Online Interior Design Part 3: Rec Room Renaissance

Welcome to part 3 of the KB Home blog series Interior Decorating – Online. The Next Big Thing – my trial run of a growing trend in interior design. Most recently, you saw progress on the Bathroom Refresh with Laurel and Wolf

In this post, you’ll see how things have progressed with the Rec Room Redesign by Decorist.

Day 1: Official project kick-off day! The registration process at Decorist was pretty easy, although not as robust or refined as Laurel and Wolf’s. They asked questions and wanted my input and inspiration, but provided more open-ended questions instead of guiding me with suggestions. One difference – they suggested I link them to my Pinterest page, so they could view my overall aesthetic. Great idea!

Here’s the room sketch I submitted, as well as one of my inspiration photos:


The budget question was open-ended, so I decided on $1,000. This is a lot, for me, for a room that has never housed anything but cast-offs and hand-me-downs.

Choosing a Decorist Designer

Decorist’s process is different – instead of uploading a design brief to which multiple designers submit ideas, you look at their available designers and choose one that you’d like to work with. I started browsing and the design panel looked great. I selected my top choice, only to find she was not available. Yikes!  I went to my second choice – not available. I clicked on my third, fourth, and fifth choices – nothing! One even said “Not available until 2017.” What? Spending time reviewing designers only to find out I can’t use them was frustrating. Most of the designer options left didn’t have real photographs of their work, just CAD drawings and mood boards. Perhaps they’re students with little experience? After much clicking and browsing I finally found a designer I felt pretty good about.


Day 2: Project Launch. Decorist’s turn-around time for design concepts is 14 days. Nothing to do for the next two weeks but wait (and focus on my bathroom!).

Day 13: Decorist got me my design boards a day early – thank goodness. These are really cute! Take a look:

Option 1:


Option 2:


I really do like the looks and new ideas. However, they don’t address my number one need – how to arrange this oddly shaped, multi-use room with different ceiling heights, weird angles, strange nooks, etc. If anything, I could use a floor map that tells me how to arrange things.

Day 14: I’ve been chatting with my designer, Hayley. The chat is different, as Decorist does not offer the interactive room map in the same way Laurel and Wolf does. I’m not sure whether this will work better or worse, as one issue I have with Laurel and Wolf’s room map is the fact that our messages aren’t chronologically ordered, which makes it tough to see the most recent messages at a glance.

Hayley keeps suggesting things (bedding, a $500 rug) that would only be available if I increase my budget of $1,000. I get that $1,000 isn’t much to refresh a room. But this is my rec room. Not to mention, I make things work on a shoestring and I’m proud of it!  Additionally, many of my questions go unanswered and it takes at least 24 hours to get a response, if any. To illustrate – at this point only 7 of the 28 messages on my project’s chat log were posted by Hayley.

I decided to write Hayley to reiterate that my budget won’t be changing (make it work, Hayley!). She responded quite diplomatically – I hope we can go forward on the same page!


Day 15: Hayley has recommended doing away with my two favorite pieces of furniture in the room (the bookshelves and my Room and Board sofa) to provide more space. I’m having a serious negative reaction to this advice. The more I think about it, however, editing down some furniture (although not my favorite sofa) may not be such a bad idea.


Day 16: I’m having a tough time figuring out how the room should be arranged. The arrangement they suggested (couch facing the fireplace) is one I’ve tried before and it just doesn’t work. I requested a floor plan design and she said she’d get it to me as the final phase of the project – when I get my full recommendation with items to order. This seems strange. How am I supposed to know if I want to order items for certain spaces in the room, when the room arrangement hasn’t been determined?

Day 17: Tired of waiting for Hayley to respond about my room arrangement, I take matters into my own hands. My weekend is spent purging cabinets and closets, rearranging furniture, reorganizing. What a mess! As my sister wisely told me – it needs to get worse before it gets better. Take a look:


I did take Hayley’s advice and moved my favorite bookshelf into the kids’ bedroom. I upload photos of the new furniture arrangement for Hayley to check out. Fingers crossed she incorporates it into my final design!


Day 19: My final design has arrived! It took me a little while to figure out how to read it, but I have to say, I’m impressed. Hayley incorporated my new seating arrangement as well as the $99 IKEA rug I purchased (in place of the $500 version she recommended).

The kid area:


Here’s the floor plan. Not an exact match to the specs of the room, but that’s OK.


What’s really cool is the “click to buy” purchasing screen.  Every item in the room is available to purchase from various vendors, and they’ve gathered it all onto their shopping platform so I can buy from several different retailers in one place. I have 4 days to make my purchases and I get $100 off if I spend $1,000. A separate email invites me to call to place my order or ask questions.

Day 22: I’ve called the Decorist offices twice and they’ve been wonderful. A friendly receptionist picked up the phone both times, and directed me immediately to one of their senior staff. (I’m envisioning the design “experts” housed together in some cute brick building in San Francisco) I shared some of my concerns about Hayley’s level of responsiveness, and my frustration with the fact that so many designers were unavailable. The lead designer I talked to was fantastic and accommodating. She told me they’re a start-up and still working out some of their process. I’m feeling a lot more positive about Decorist.

Day 25: I’ve requested a few changes to the plan. Through the valuable process of purging and rearranging, I found all sorts of my own stuff that I think would look great in my new design, including my vintage army blanket, a few posters I bought and completely forgot about, and adorable wall decals that I never hung up after I moved (um, 5 years ago). I uploaded them to my Decorist project page – let’s see how they incorporate it into my design!


Day 30: Today my revised design board came, with an updated click to buy list – and I’m loving it! There are a few missed items here and there (like, where did the curtains go?) but at this point I’m happy. I realize I added new items for them to incorporate into the plan after the fact, which means they had to completely rejigger my color scheme. They did so with no complaint.


Days 26 – 37: Over the last few days I’ve had some back and forth with Decorist over a few of the items available for purchase. Today my shopping list was updated and available and I purchased several of the things they have recommended. At this point, I’m actually under budget. My next step is to wait for my packages to arrive!

Stay tuned for my next posts – when I unveil the finished Rec Room and Master Bath!

Feel free to check out the previous posts in this series:

Interior Decorating – Online. The Next Big Thing  and Online Interior Design Part 2 – The Bathroom Awakens


*The information and opinions expressed herein are solely those of this author and are not the opinion of KB Home, its affiliates, management, or employees.