At Splash Spring 2016, we'll be taking a deeper dive into the so-called "on-demand" and "sharing" economy companies, as these new models are shaping the way we receive our services and deliver them. (For more on these new economy models, read this story: What's the sharing economy?)
Decorist is one company that's part of this new economy, as it is a curated marketplace for designers, meaning it's not an unbridled marketplace where any designer can join and find customesr. Decorist selects theirs and ensures each one fits their style and their standards.
The two-year-old service, which we wrote about last year when it raised a $4.5 million round, plans to announce Thursday that it's not only a place to find designers, it's a place to find designer help within 24 hours. Appealing to the on-demand culture, the new service hopes to grab new clients by giving them a little design nudge.
"Women aren't always re-doing a room, but sometimes they need advice on buying new art work or how to accessorize a sofa," said Gretchen Gretchen Hansen, Founder and CEO of Decorist. "With Design Bar, you can upload a photo and ask a quick question and get advice from expert designers... All you need is a phone and a photo; ask a question, and you receive a very personal response with a visual graphic and design board."
Sounds like an useful service. So I tried it. For now, it's free. But in the future, it will cost around $29 to ask a question -- a reasonable amount for someone with a large budget to play with, but a hurdle, in my opinion, for someone with a limited budget.
So here's how it worked for me. I uploaded an image of a home my husband and I are planning on re-modeling. My question on Decorist was how do I create a Spanish-Med look with a budget of more than $1,000.
There are different budget selections, with the lowest at around $100. It's unclear whether the budget is for the entire room or for individual pieces. That probably should be made more clear on Decorist.
In any event, I went for the highest budget. I also had to select my style. For me, it was traditional-eclectic.
The designs were good, though I thought I would actually be able to envision the rugs, chairs, light fixturesin the actual room, which would have been more helpful than seeing suggestions.
While they're useful, as an online site, Decorist could do more. After all, I can go to Architectural Digest and get the same ideas.
What is nice, however, is the personalized note the designer provides. Here's the note to me. It's very personalized and also speaks to the difference between a Spanish and a Mediterranean look.
While this feedback is pretty good, if you have a lower budget, say $500, the feedback isn't as thought out, though it may have a lot to do with the question you ask. For instance, I uploaded a photo of the living room and kitchen in our house in Lake Tahoe that we're trying to decorate.
I asked for design ideas about the entire living room and kitchen, and mentioned a rug would be nice too. Instead of getting a design for the living room, I just received options for rugs.
It's still helpful. But again, it would have been nice to see it in the actual space. That's what would make Decorist even more special.
But note that I was able to get feedback within a day. That's on-demand enough for me. And, the most essential piece to Decorist isn't their design tips. But rather, their design tips in your budget. These rugs selected above are priced within the range I stated. Unfortunately, I failed to note the size of the rug at a specific budget. So the options are not exactly the rugs I can use because the size I'm looking for makes these rugs out of my budget.
Nonetheless, Decorist does give you a sense of style ideas and sends you to the place to buy them, which is a big value add.