Interior Design
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The pros and cons of E-Design

Recently, when introducing the Interior Design Collective to you all, I wrote a little about the rapidly growing market of E-Design. Nearly everyone I know, (interior-designer wise, not literally everyone I know) offers some kind of remote interior design service as an alternative to face to face interior design. It’s a brilliant, cost effective way of sparking ideas and inspiration. Someone else does all the product sourcing, decision making (saving your marriage), solves layout issues and helps you visualise how your room could look. All without you having to do anything!

All true. “Yay”

Apart from the very last bit. “Oh”

The last bit isn’t true. “Booo!”

Remote design is great for those of you who need the guidance and impetus to get started. As long as you keep in mind it’s still you that has to sort everything to get finished. Things like;

  • Booking trades
  • Ordering samples and stuff
  • Being in to sign for everything
  • Building flat pack
  • Dealing with things that arrive broken and need sending back
  • Re-booking trades because the first dude didn’t turn up.
  • And a million other things…. I think you get the picture….

Taking all of this into account, I can categorically say, if you don’t have any trade contacts (decorator, electrician, joiner) and have no interest in DIY whatsoever, remote design might not be for you. Or if you’re the type of person that procrastinates or overthinks everything, remote design is not for you. Or if you work 12 hour days and want the weekend to simply sit in your PJ’s watching Netflix with your fam (sounds heavenly), remote design isn’t for you either. You need someone there. A local designer to take on all of the hard work of turning a design concept into an actual real life space.

Sherwood Forest Project

(You can read all about what an interior designer actually does and some of the reasons people have chosen to work with me here.)

There are however, people out there that E-Design is absolutely perfect for. And i’ve been lucky enough to work with some ace clients. People i’ve never met, but we’ve achieved some great things via email, Pinterest and Skype. Here are a couple of pics, not by me obviously as this particular client is based down in Berkshire. We’re just finishing off her hallway, stairs and landing. Always a seemingly small job, but these transient spaces take a lot more thought than most.

Before - Remote Interior Design

Brief: Get rid of the magnolia, add some detail, more storage, new lighting… Here’s where we are so far:

After Remote Interior Design

Looking good isn’t it? And the client is super happy, which is of course is the most important thing of all. I’m looking forward to seeing it finished.

So how does it all work then? 

I’ve been meaning to add a page to my site for ages about how my own remote design service works. It’s probably the one thing I receive the most emails about. But you know, I still havent done it, so thought it would make for some useful/interesting (maybe not?) blog fodder.

**clears throat**

The ‘Everyone’ package offers a cost-effective way of working with an interior designer. It’s perfect for those of you looking for a design concept and unique ideas but want to plan and carry out the work yourself.

(That last bit is key)

The “Everyone” package includes:

  • A one hour Skype consultation

  • A shopping list 

  • A to-scale electronic floor plan

  • A personalised electronic mood board

  • Recommendations for colours and finishes, lighting, window treatments, furniture and accessories

And here’s how it works in practice:

Step 1.

I’ll need photos of the room you’d like me to work in, with accurate room dimensions including, ceiling height, placement of doors, windows and chimney breasts, bay windows and the like. If you’re lucky, you might still find your sales details on Rightmove or Zoopla so you can find your floor plan with all the room dimensions already laid out for you. It’s worth googling your address to see if you can find your old listing.

Step 2

I arrange your one hour Skype consultation. Here, we discuss your requirements, including budget, how the room will be used, by whom and how you’d like it to feel. At this point if you have a Pinterest board or similar with ideas for the room we are working on, it would be good to send this over right about now.


Step 3

I get to work. Sourcing products and adding them to your private Pinterest board, drawing up a to-scale floor plan and creating your mood board so you can visualise the design concept.

Step 4

I email over your mood board along with a link to your Pinterest board where you can see your shopping list for the items shown as part of the design. More often than not, I will provide several options for each item so you can tweak the design very slightly.

Step 6

Now it’s over to you. You’ve got all of the ingredients, it’s time for you to take over and create your unique interior.

Step 7 (optional)

If you feel you need more input during the process, another Skype chat perhaps or something in particular sourcing, you’re welcome to book in another hour or two at a time to keep the project ticking along.

Step 8 (not optional)

Sit down, relax and enjoy your new room (and maybe start planning your next one, because that always happens).


So there you have it. That’s how I work it. It’s not for everyone, granted, but if you put the hours in, wonderful things can be achieved. These are pics from the same house as the hall, stairs and landing you saw earlier. But this time, it’s their home office. Here’s how it looked before:


The new design needed to accommodate desk space for two people with the option of seating a third, maybe fourth in the future. They needed plenty of storage for files, books and Lego and a quiet reading corner. Here was my suggestion after a day’s remote design work:

Design Concept

Suggested Floorplan

Suggested Joinery Plan

And here’s a pic sent from my lovely client showing how it looked just a few weeks later at the back end of the project:

A much better use of the space don’t cha think? I’ve not actually seen what it looks like now it’s finished, but I was chuffed to read my most recent review on Houzz this week for this very project:

“I turned to Karen for help after stumbling across her blog and falling in love with her approach to interior design. I worked with Karen on a double study which needed to flex to accommodate both kids and adults alike over the next 10 years. Working over Skype and using photos she immediately embraced the challenge and came up with a fab design first time! Karen had managed to combine a modern and fresh workspace with Lego storage! We absolutely love this space and can’t recommend Karen enough.

So it can work brilliantly. So much so, your client might have their new room featured in a magazine:

…and very kindly mention you in the second paragraph. Whoop! In fact Antonia, who I worked with on her bathroom renovation last year, wrote a blog post all about her experience of working with me. Feel free to have a read what she had to say here.

So whadya think? Is remote design for you? Or would you prefer to work with someone face to face? When people ask me how an interior design project works, I always offer the same response; Every project is completely different, because every person is. Aint that the truth!


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