Two Web platforms with Washington connections — Zoom Interiors of Los Angeles and Havenly of Denver — connect users to interior designers offering style and shopping expertise for a one-time flat fee.
“All aspects of our lives are improved by technology,” said Beatrice Fischel-Bock of Zoom. “It seemed only natural for us to merge tech and interior design to help clients with their homes.”
Fischel-Bock, 24, and her partners, fellow George Washington University design grads Elizabeth Grover, 25, and Madeline Fraser, 24, came up with the idea for the company in 2012 while they were studying in London. The trio had received e-mails from friends in the States asking for help designing first apartments and, after e-mailing links back and forth, realized their online advice could be translated to daily client work.
Zoom picked up national attention when it appeared on ABC’s “Shark Tank” earlier this year. Later this fall, it will launch a mobile and tablet app, though Fischel-Bock declined to reveal specifics.
Here’s how Zoom works on the Web: Users answer a brief questionnaire about their style preferences, then upload a photo of their room and browse through images of finished spaces for aesthetic inspiration.
With those preferences in mind, Zoom designers provide a rendering with decor and furniture items from a wide range of retailers, such as CB2, West Elm and Ikea, that clients can later purchase through Zoom. The arrangement starts with a $99 fee per room for the design concept; add-ons include receiving a style rendering, two revisions, a product shopping list and having the items ordered and delivered.
Many of their clients are millennials experiencing firsts in life: They’re moving from futons to beds or from dorms to apartments, or buying a starter home, moving in with a significant other or creating their first nursery.
“We saw this need to make buying for your house accessible, affordable and easy,” Fischel-Bock said. “It’s great for transient people who are moving a lot or are still young and don’t want to spend a lot of time and money on the process.”
Web platform Havenly offers a similar service. Potomac native and co-founder Emily Motayed, 27, created the interior design site in 2013 with her sister Lee Mayer, 33, after longing for a beautifully designed, “cohesive” home like her parents’, but on a budget. She said they keep prices low by eliminating the consultation and installation fees characteristic of traditional design firms.
Havenly requires a per-room fee of $199. Clients receive two concept design boards and a full rendering of their space with furniture ordered through Havenly from retailers such as Anthropologie and Restoration Hardware . Havenly has evolved to become a “guided e-commerce” site, according to Motayed.
“There’s so much out there,” she said. “Furniture is not cheap, so we make sure you have a good sense of how it’s going to work before you pull the trigger.”
For Motayed, a well-designed and curated home is a necessary luxury even for young professionals just starting out.
“Everyone deserves a beautiful haven and a place for them to hide or to feel safe from the rest of the world — no matter their budget,” she said.
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