Online Decorating or "E-Design"

Before the Corona virus (BCV), working with virtual clients was not something I'd ever really considered. While I was familiar with e-design, and knew it to be gaining in popularity, my focus was local, in-person projects. The pandemic has forced me to adapt.

I'm thrilled to say that e-decorating is totally in my wheelhouse after two successful projects in recent weeks, including one with a California-based client (Hi Rob!). Today I'm excited to share the details of one of those projects and demonstrate how e-design might also work for you.

What is E-Design or E-Decorating?

In case you're unfamiliar with the term, E-design describes the collaborative process of designers/decorators working with clients virtually (through face time or some other video chat) and via email.

How does it work?

To help with the shift online, I've developed a simple 5 step process as part of my "Ask a Decorator" package. Just like in-person decorating, everyone has their own way of doing things, but I've recently refined my process to work fairly seamlessly with the online experience. Ultimately, the goal is to make the decorating experience as fun and stress-free as possible. Today I'm excited to demonstrate how this new process worked with one of my original virtual clients (Kim).

Project Background

Kim, her husband Mike, and her 2.5 year old Cayley recently purchased a town home in a beautiful wooded neighborhood of North Vancouver. Kim originally booked an "Ask A Decorator Package" before they took possession a few months ago so that she had a plan in place to help outfit her beautiful new space. Kim and her family have been getting settled in and making this space their own for the past few months.One of Kim's first goals was to finalize a few purchases for her Living Room & Dining Room. Below I walk through key details of this project, step by step. Let's dive in!

Step 1 - Determine How Much Help You Need

The first step is determining how much help you need. For context, my 1.5 hour package is typically suitable for 1 room (or area), while my 3 hour package is typically better for multiple rooms and/or clients with bigger shopping lists. Both packages include an initial 30 minute video chat. Kim and I agreed on the 3 hour package for her new townhome.

Step 2 - Information Gathering

In order to make the best of our 30 minute FaceTime call, I ask for some key information from my clients beforehand. Yep, you get a little bit of homework!

1. Questionnaire

I have a small questionnaire I send so I can learn a bit about the following:

  • Your family (kids?pets?)

  • What room(s) are we working on?

  • Style preferences

  • What items do you need to purchase?

  • Rough budget for the project?

2. Photos and measurements

I also ask for photos of the space and related measurements. A rough sketch of the shape of the room detailing architectural elements (like windows and doors) with some basic measurements helps with furniture planning.

Kim's Living Room is a large rectangle shape with sliding doors along the length of one wall, leading out to the deck. The natural light is amazing and the view of the forest behind the property is gorgeous, which is why I titled this project "Modern Living Room in the Woods".

Here is the photo of the sitting area at one end:

They hit the jackpot with the gorgeous built in bookcase! Here is the view of the opposite end where the TV and Fireplace is...

3. Pinterest Board or Inspiration Photos

Pinterest is one of the key tools I rely upon when it comes to E-Design. I typically ask clients to share an "inspiration board" filled with images they love to help me better understand their styling preferences. I then use these images to create a personalized Pinterest board that includes some initial ideas/products to fit the client's needs/budget. Click here to see the board I created for Kim...

Step 3 - Video Chat

Once I've gathered the background info, it's time for the fun part -- the FaceTime call! I was at an advantage with Kim because I had been inside her home before (on a prior project), however, it was before she took possession and things looked totally different. It's amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do! Kim flipped the phone camera around and gave me a tour, with a focus on the Dining Room and Living Room. Kim asked me questions about some decorative decisions she was unsure of, for example:

  • She wondered if they should paint the bit of wall above the fireplace a darker color. My suggestion was to hang the round mirror we had previously decided on, and get a bit of decor on the mantle (a vase with some greenery) first, and then make the call.

  • She had two gorgeous mid-century chairs in the room, but she wasn't sure if they were working...

My suggestion was to keep the larger one by the window and re-locate the smaller one to a different room in the house. I like how she has the chair on an angle, creating "conversational seating" in the room, and notice the front legs of the chairs are on the rug which is in line with "the rug rules".

We spent the majority of the call discussing coffee table options and what decorative elements she still needed in the room to make it feel complete. We even went over her built-in bookcase together, and I couldn't resist making a few suggestions on how to arrange the objects on it...shelf styling is my favorite!!

Step 4 - Written Summary & Shopping List

I took notes on all of the things we discussed during our call, and then typed it up as a summary for Kim. I use Google Docs to write my summaries because I can easily includes links to my recommended items. I can't paste a google doc in this post so I created a graphic to give you an idea of what my list would look like (the real list would have links to each item beside it)

Kim was struggling to decide on a coffee table. After some discussion, we narrowed it down to 4 primary options. We knew the price point we were looking for ($400-600 roughly), and we also knew we wanted a round table -- that is always my recommendation with sectional sofas (I just think they look the best!). In order to help her decide, I created a mood board with the 4 different options. Check them out:

For fun, I did a poll on my Instagram Stories account to gauge the fan favorite -- it was the wooden table with metal legs (bottom right), which turned out to be the same option Kim was leaning towards!

Budget is always one of the key project elements I try to respect/accommodate. In this instance, I asked Kim for a rough idea of what she wanted to spend, and I'm happy to say I kept my recommended shopping list well under the figure she shared with me. I encouraged her to invest more significantly in a coffee table and side table that she loved, and then looked for more budget-friendly decorative items to balance things out. For example, this round mirror is $79.99 at IKEA and looks great, check it out in a previous client project (you can see more photos from that project here).

Once the summary and shopping list has been delivered to the client, they can begin shopping and styling. Having the list and decorating plan in place helps to guide the process, but the client has the flexibility to complete the project at their own pace.

Step 5 - Follow-up

After sending the project summary and shopping list to the client, I remain available to answer any questions and/or provide clarifications. If clients want additional help implementing the plan, or if they want to tackle an additional space, I'm also available at my hourly rate to provide whatever is needed.

Kim has agreed to let me come and snap some photos of her Living Room when she has all the pieces in place and then share it with you here on my blog, so stay tuned for that!

I hope you have enjoyed this inside look into the world of virtual decorating! If you are struggling with an area of your home and wonder if E-design might be right for you, email me at khansen@littlenestdesign or DM me over on instagram (@littlenestdesign).

Thanks for reading!