Or for the average Londoner, back in the day, your only hope of having an interior designer work their magic on your home was to appear on the BBC’s Changing Room wearing primary colors – risking conflict with your neighbours. We are currently printing the decorations, and with the animals.
Thankfully, times have changed and technology has come to our aid, especially in the form of the online platform Homewings.
The website pairs customers with experienced interior designers to create a concept, complete with shopping list and instructions on how to bring it to life, for just £199 per room.
The company is only a little over a year old, but the idea behind it has been brewing since Dutch founder Cornelia de Ruyter studied interior design in Florence during a break from law school. .
She had no understanding of traditional interior design models. Typically, in that model, practitioners charge an hourly rate and earn a portion of their income through commissions on furniture sales.
“It’s very expensive. I’ve always been a bit annoyed by that,” she explains from her trendy shared office at Homewings, next door to Shoreditch House.
“My vision for interior design is exactly the same as how I dress. It’s a combination of ZARA and H&M, and maybe an investment in big-ticket items like shoes or cool vintage accessories.”
By moving the process online, that vision became a reality. “Something had to give. We had to be more efficient and streamlined,” she says.
“We can’t automate design. We can’t make design feel cookie-cutter. So we want to provide a platform where designers can focus their time on actual design and collaboration and interaction with clients. was important.”
De Ruyter, who now lives in Balham with her husband and two children, is demonstrating this in a project she did for a Danish client who was looking for a modern lounge in gray tones.
(She became a lawyer and then a strategic consultant at Bain & Company, but always did home renovations as a side hustle as a “release.” She now takes on one project a month through Homewings.) , I draw pictures in my free time.)
Through something like a combination of Facebook Messenger and Pinterest, the two worked together briefly, exchanging ideas and thoughts on everything from paint colors to the client’s suggested Nina Simone prints.
Within two weeks, De Ruiter had a full-size visualization for the client to approve, along with a solid construction guide and a list of where to buy the components online.
Currently, 70 to 80 rooms per month receive the HomeWings treatment. The pace has been relatively fast since De Ruyter was introduced to startup veterans Steffen Silsted and Nikolaj Watzenig during a sabbatical he took from Bain in 2015.
The three co-founded Homewings within a week of meeting, but De Ruyter informed Bain that she would not be returning.
The pilot scheme was completed by the end of the year, and the first official customers were enrolled shortly thereafter. With a small investment from a group of high-tech investors, they are thriving, with sales increasing by about 20% a month.
Early adopters range from young renters with a budget of £2,000 to older homeowners with budgets of as much as £10,000. This includes older men, who have tended to be elusive to traditional practitioners.
“Price is important, but so is convenience,” says De Ruyter. “There are a lot of people who don’t want to go out for lunch or coffee with their interior designer. If you can tell someone online what you like and get them to understand it, they’ll appreciate it very much.” I find it fascinating.”
But what about traditional designers? Aren’t they frustrated that their cozy old world has been destroyed?
De Ruiter acknowledges that the 80% cut in fees may seem cheap when translated into hourly rates, but he also highlights the side benefits.
These include training on social media and how to interact with customers. Ruiter’s background as a consultant comes in handy here. This includes access to a community of his peers and the flexibility of freelancing.
For now, Homewings’ main focus is on its housing business, and it plans to raise new funding soon to launch overseas.
The company is eyeing property developers after completing a project for buyers of rooftop property at Battersea Power Station, and believes Homewings could be part of a home sales package.
De Ruyter is keen not to diversify too quickly, but the team is also looking at office design and embedding services into wedding gift registries and retailer websites.
Prospective investors would better act fast, as Homewings prepares to take off.