Are you dying to redecorate your living room, renovate your kitchen, or just pick a new paint color among the millions on the market? In the past, you may have hired a designer, contractor, or plumber to come to your home to help get it done.
But now that COVID-19 has arrived, you may be wary about inviting any professionals into your house. So does that mean any home improvements should be put on hold indefinitely? Not necessarily!
Although a number of designers, decorators, and other home professionals offered virtual consultations pre-COVID-19, the pandemic has fueled the demand for such contact-free services.
So how do these sessions work? In a nutshell, professionals view your home via video and photos, discuss your goals, then coach you through how you can accomplish them yourself.
Another bonus? Working with pros virtually is usually more affordable than an in-home visit, or even free. Here are a few of the ways you can ace home improvements with the help of virtual consultants.
Virtual interior designer
How it works: While the exact approach will vary by designer, virtual design consultations typically begin with a designer “seeing” your home via video and photos you share. From there, you describe your desired aesthetic in more detail.
“I typically first ‘meet’ with the client via email or phone to discuss the scope of the project, budget, and time frame,” says Julie Chrissis of Boston’s Chrissis & Company Interiors. “Then we meet virtually over video for a full design session.”
That usually includes consultation on furniture selection and placement, as well as design resources for finishing touches.
“Many clients leave the meeting with enough information to implement the project on their own,” says Chrissis.
Prices for virtual design services vary. Some from furniture stores like West Elm are free since they’re angling to sell you their merchandise. But for more objective advice, Chrissis charges $300 for a consultation that will take an hour or two.
On sites like Decorilla, designers bid for your project and charge $75 per hour.
Virtual color consultant
How it works: Struggling to pick the right paint color? A color consultant can help with everything from a small window trim project to a two-story exterior job. Similar to designers, color consultants at paint companies like PPG help you choose the right color scheme by viewing your home via video and photos, says senior color marketing manager Dee Schlotter.
After studying the space’s existing decor, flooring, and other home elements to develop a cohesive color palette, color consultants may mail some color swatch choices so you can see how a hue will look in your space. If you like what you see, you can schedule curbside paint pickup from a local paint store.
While PPG’s virtual color consultations are free, just keep in mind that they’ll push their own paint. Alternatively, you could hire a color pro like Austin, TX’s Maria Martin of Interior DesignWorks, who developed designappy.com so clients can try on designs such as a new paint color virtually.
Consulting fees for color pros range from $200 to $400 an hour, which typically includes reviewing images, suggesting paint colors, and providing renderings.
Virtual organization expert
How it works: If you’re determined to get organized, a virtual organization consultant can be that extra kick in the pants you need to get it done.
Outlets like The Container Store offer such services, or else you can hire an independent designer for about $120 per hour, according to Laura Kinsella, owner of New York’s professional organizing company Urban OrgaNYze.
So how does it work? Kinsella begins each consultation by virtually touring the area that needs organizing.
“We discuss pain points, what’s working, what’s not, as well as overall goals and the desired vision for their home,” explains Kinsella.
After the consultation, Kinsella draws up an action plan on what her clients should toss, and how to organize what’s left. And, since clutter tends to creep back in without maintenance, certain organizers, including Kinsella, offer follow-up calls to check in and keep you on track.
Virtual kitchen or bathroom renovation
How it works: Want to move a step beyond just redecorating and install new countertops or cabinets? Or embark on a full renovation? Many stores, including Ikea and Home Depot, offer virtual kitchen renovation consults for free. Granted, you’ll be limited to their own products, but they have a decent selection that can be delivered to your door.
You can also hire an independent designer. For instance, Morgan Mullen, owner of California’s MullenDesignCo.com, offers her virtual insights for $175 per hour, inviting clients to share their wish list, pictures, and space measurements by email.
“From there, I render, redesign, and move things around to bring an outdated kitchen or bathroom to life,” says Mullen, who then shows renderings of what the newly renovated space would look like.
Once the redesign is approved, clients will receive a detailed punch list of what to purchase.
Armed with an action plan, you might try the DIY approach to bring it to life. But if that’s too daunting, you might have to hire a licensed kitchen installer to help—assuming local laws permit such services in your area. Make sure to ask what safety measures the services might employ such as masks or temperature checks on employees.
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