10 Reasons Why Online Design Will Thrive in 2022

Expert interior design at a fraction of the cost of traditional interior designers. Unlimited revisions with your designer until you land on a look you love. 100% Personalized. 3D Virtual Room Designs. Money Back Guarantee. Pay Per Room, Not Per Hour. Sound familiar? Online interior design is here to stay. Read on to find out why online design will keep thriving in 2022 and beyond.

  1. Homeowners are empowered

Homeowners are looking online for ways to improve their spaces, but there are now many avenues for inspiration, instruction, and sourcing beyond the traditional model of hiring an in-person designer. Although it takes more than a Pinterest board to create a well designed spaces, more customers have the aptitude to understand their design style, have been exposed retailers that fit that style and even know where to buy pieces at the best price. In a report published by Pinterest in July 2020 usage by millennials on the platform has grown 36% since July 2019. There are design-focused Facebook groups boasting thousands of members where customers share inspiration pictures and advice for every design rut imaginable. In-person, full-service designers who haven’t embraced an online, client-driven, collaborative approach will be left behind.

2. Changing client expectations.

Home improvement shows Like Flip or Flop and Love it or List it omit the behind-the-scenes reality of bringing a design to life and skews client expectations about what it really costs — both in time and dollars to transform a space. The shows usually account for the cost of the remodel, the purchase price and even taxes but omit the cost of the furniture and accessories because families on the show don’t get to keep the furniture. Instead, participants are able to purchase it afterward. All furniture not purchased is removed from the home after the show finished filming. Reducing opportunities for mis-matched expectations allows designers to focus on what they love — designing.

3. The Economic Reality of Homeownership

Next generation homeownership rates and wealth accumulation are falling fast. Although designers can find a niche in rented homes and units, traditional designers will be left competing for a smaller slice of homeowners who are wealthy enough have their home expertly designed and privileged enough to afford a home in the first place. Online interior design affords a larger segment of the next generation access to affordable interior design that won’t jeapoordize their security deposit.

4. Supply chain disruptions

Most of us have seen the headlines about raw material shortages, painstakingly long lead times for furniture, furnishings and other homegoods, as well as price increases due to disruptions in the supply chain and manufacturing. There are many ways designers are paid but most popular among them are markups on goods that are exclusively sold to-the-trade. With increasingly less to-the-trade suppliers, a decreasing population of clients willing to wait 6 months for that gorgeous dining room table and little to no profit in retail recommendations, online interior design empowers clients to choose the best item, price and convenience that suits them most.

5. The contactless experience

One of the most used phrases of 2020 was “social distance.” Both DoorDash and Instacart allow customers to select door drop off in the app to avoid interacting with delivery drivers. Airbnb allows travelers to filter by keyless entry to avoid a potentially awkward interaction with a homeowner before they entrust you with their most prized asset — their home. TuroGo allows renters to avoid interacting with their host before accessing a vehicle rented on the peer to peer car rental platform. Countless events have gone virtual. Let’s face it — customers have come to expect transactions to involve the least amount of actual human interaction as possible. Interior design must adapt the way we deliver services to remain desirable, accessible and profitable.

6. The rise of DIY

Consumers have been increasingly leaning into DIY projects to achieve cost savings. Giving a customer the guidance and tools necessary to evolve their home functionally and aesthetically as their needs change is more valueable than calling an expert each time a new baby arrives or the underutilized dining room space needs to accommodate a new hobby. Offering online interioro design allows experts to thrive from the popularity of DIY, rather than incessently fighting against it.

7. Greater profits

There are only a few ways to increase profits. Among them: sell more, increase prices, decrease quality or decrease expenses. Not only does shifting focus from full design to design consulting or e-design allow designers to access a different segment of the home improvement market, but we can quickly grow our bottom line to take on more projects, more frequently. Designers notoriously underestimate the time involved in full design projects, and fail to bill accordingly — a situation that decreases margins. Online interior design allows you to turn projects around quickly, leading to better margins. According to salary.com, the average interior designer makes $45,845. Additional income streams are necessary when doing things the traditional way doesn’t pay.

8. Lower liability

One of our colleagues was working with a client who was allergic to propylene glycol. The client requested a rug that is hyper allergenic. After client sign off and furniture installation, the client reported a mysterious rash on her thighs and sued the designer for medical bills, pain and suffering and legal fees. We live in a litigious society. Full design services exposes even the most saavy designer to an infinate number of legal issues from disgruntled clients. Sometimes it’s just not possible to decline a client that may not be a good fit or spot them to begin with. Online interior design services can substantially lower the risk so that you and your attorney can rest easy.

9. Competitive Parity

Moving away from full design services allows designers to complete with large online interior design companies with deep pockets. Modsy and Havenly have gained a competitive advantage because when Covid-19 arrived, designers began offering e-design services. Focusing on improving these the e-design experience and offering more value allows small interior designers to achieve competitive parity and gain market share in this growing space.

10. The industry is changing

Since launching in 2009, Houzz has attracted a base of 40 million monthly users who can find inspiration, shop for furniture, or search through the profiles of roughly 1.5 million experts offering everything from interior design to pest control services. Houzz purchased IvyMark, a business management platform for the interior design community. Because the traditional designers business model is to take a percentage of all furniture purchased through them, many believe Houzz is eliminating the need for interior designers with its “visual match” algorithm, which scans designer portfolio photos and tags them with links to similar-looking products that consumers can then purchase on their own. As mentioned earlier, to-the-trade furniture, once only available via designers are now widely available online. As the incentives for customers to take a DIY approach to designing increase with help from big online business, designers swimming against the tide will be left behind.

Are you a designer already offering online interior design services? What motivated you?

Are you a consumer planning to use online interior design services in 2022? Let me know in the comments below!

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Andréa Nicole Sealey

Andréa Nicole Sealey

Healthcare IT Analyst | Interiors Expert | Life Partner to 1, Mom of 2 | Superwoman