Online Interior Design Part 4 – Room Makeovers, Before and After

It is time, friends! The best part of any BEFORE and AFTER story – Part 4 of the KB Home Online Interior Design blog series: the beautiful AFTER.

In this post, I’ll be unveiling the results of my master bath and rec room redesigns, as well as sharing my thoughts about online interior design in general.

It’s been fun. Exciting. Educational. Very fruitful. And a long way form the beginning – Interior Decorating – Online. The Next Big Thing?

First: The Bathroom Refresh with Laurel and Wolf

Vanity Before:

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Vanity After:

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Shower Before:

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Shower After:

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We have lived with the new bathroom for a few weeks now, and we are LOVING it. It feels bigger, brighter, and luxurious. Just to know a few of our  favorite things – the floor-to-ceiling shower tiles, the amazing rain showerhead (feels so good), the glass panel that replaced our shower curtain, and the black and white tiled floors that are so much prettier than our dingy, dated linoleum.

 

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Almost every decision, from light fixtures to showerhead to tiles, was made hand-in-hand with my Laurel and Wolf designer (Emma). I waffled a lot on whether to do black cabinets. Not only did Emma recommend the paint color (Benjamin Moore “Graphite”), but she gently kept me on track me when I almost chickened out.

She was understanding, diplomatic, and generous with her time, even when I changed my mind, and then changed it again. She gave me her phone number so we could text when I was out and about. (while the Laurel and Wolf software is good, it’s not very mobile-friendly. Tough when you’re trying to make decisions at the tile store) Our design time was supposed to be 10 days, but they allowed me to extend it twice without the slightest negativity.

That said, there were a few frustrations along the way. I chose Emma because she was absolutely on the same page with me design-wise, even though she had less experience than some of the other designers. A few of her mistakes did end up costing me time and money. For example, the faucets she recommended were the wrong size for the sinks. That meant I had to pack them up, return them, choose new faucets, and reorder – a big pain. To make matters worse, the lead-time for aged brass faucets is long, and so I went without faucets for over a month. At first brushing teeth in the bathtub was OK, but once the tub was removed, the whole family had to share one sink.

Emma and I did a lot of searching for aged brass fixtures. She found some options which I ordered from BrassHut.com, but when they arrived, they had a greenish cast, and looked more like something you’d find in a roadside motel in 1977. What I didn’t read carefully when I ordered was their return policy – I had to pay restocking fees! In addition, the hardware for my drawers and cupboards didn’t quite match, and the cupboard pulls were too long for my taste. Luckily, I stumbled upon Target’s new line of aged brass accessories while shopping for other stuff. I got beautiful brass drawer and cupboard pulls for a song, and they’re perfect.

The positives? She spent so much time with me, her hourly rate must have been about $.25 an hour. Not only that, but I liked her. For $299, I got a constant helper who LOL’ed at my jokes and said things like, “Great idea!” and “You’re after my own heart!” She brought a lot of intangibles to the table – a listening ear, attention, and encouragement. It was lovely working with her.

I’m realizing that I knew what I wanted right from the beginning. What I didn’t have was the confidence, the know-how, or the commitment to do it on my own. Laurel and Wolf (and Emma) acted as my guide and pulled the decisions out of me. It was just what I needed to get this room done.

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Part II: Rec Room Renaissance – the Unveiling

Before:

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After:

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The photos don’t lie – the redesign made a HUGE difference! This place has gone from a toy junkyard to a great space for the whole family. Most notable improvements: Less stuff. Better use of space. Great accessories.

The rec room had become a resting place for furniture we didn’t love, not to mention a build-up of toys that weren’t getting much playing time. The room has a wall of cupboards with tons of storage space, and they had been filled with junk since we moved in 5 years ago. I cleaned them out and found all sorts of treasures, like the wall decals you see here:

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Now that they’re cleaned out, these cupboards are finally being used for what they were meant for – storing things we use.

It was tough to find an arrangement for this room that made use of the view and the fireplace, while taking into the consideration the ceilings that slope down to 3 feet in some places. Decorist didn’t come up for a solution for me – I figured it out on my own. But I wouldn’t have tackled it without the motivation the project gave me. In my new room, I love to sit on the couch looking out at the view with a cup of coffee in the morning. Here’s a shot of Jane enjoying the scenery:

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The space in front of the TV is great for doing yoga or exercise DVDs. Our overnight guests have their own getaway, instead of feeling like they’re stashed in the toy room:

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I didn’t end up getting that much new stuff for this room – the only new items are the lamps, rugs, pillows, plants and a GREAT tripod fan that helps cool the space. We came up with our own cinder-block bookshelves for the TV corner, which work great.

I found so many of my own accessories along the way that I ended up coming in well under budget. But, Decorist’s ideas guided me towards how to place the stuff I already had.

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I had a few negatives with Decorist. Laurel & Wolf’s program allowed different designers to pitch me their ideas, while with Decorist I had to choose one designer (and availability was limited). Turn-around time was longer, and my designer was much less responsive. We did not build rapport and the process was not as much fun. That said, as soon as I shared my feedback with their team, they addressed my issues and were absolutely wonderful. Also, I love the way the finished room looks. It should also be noted that Decorist’s fees were $179, compared to Laurel & Wolf’s $299. So, I ended up with a great finished room, and great bang for my buck.

In the end, what’s my final take on online interior design?

Two HUGE thumbs up. I would use either company again, in a second. There are some downsides to ordering everything online – no opportunity to see and feel the products, and a few of the issues I detailed above. But, there are upsides – clicking and ordering in a matter of minutes, instead of hours spent physically visiting stores. And, both companies offer help with ordering and returns. No doubt, having a designer who is able to physically evaluate my oddly shaped rec room would have also made things easier. However, with the hundreds of dollars I saved using an online service, it was well worth it.

Overall, I’m impressed with what online interior design offers – a chance for regular, not especially wealthy people (like me) to have a partner, guide, and collaborator in designing a space. And, a kick in the pants to get it done, instead of letting it linger for weeks, months, or even years.

Now that I know how much time they spend on a project, I honestly don’t know how these companies are going to stay in business! For the amount of time they spent on my projects, I really can’t see how they turn a profit. But I’m hoping they do, because I can’t wait to try them again.

Thanks for following this series – it’s been a blast.

 

Didn’t get a chance to read the other blog posts in the series? They’re worth a look:

Part 1: Interior Decorating Online – The Next Big Thing?

Part 2: The Bathroom Awakens

Part 3: Rec Room Renaissance

 

*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.