Road-testing UDESIGN: design the home of your dreams online

This month, we introduced our new, online, interior design service: UDESIGN. Powered by Homewings, the service aims to help you through your interior process and, together with a professional interior designer, create the home of your dreams, in your budget, all online.

The idea spawned from our dozens of inquiries each week about what colours pair well together, what fabrics to combine, and how to recreate styles we’ve imagined in our photoshoots.

UDESIGN aims to help you through our process and, together with a professional interior designer, create the home of your dreams, in your budget, all online.

Their Art Nouveau building. Learn more here.

Before launching it to you, we wanted to put it to the test in one of our own homes – none other than the new, Art Nouveau apartment belonging to the URBANARA founders.

Before: The Brief

‘We think of ourselves as on-trend people with an eye for design – it sort of comes with the territory – but applying what you know and love is different when designing your own home, especially when there are two people involved’ said Claire Davidson, co-founder of URBANARA and Director of Marketing and Product Development.

The apartment is a three-bedroom period building that has been completely renovated to make it more open and bright.

‘With such a big, empty space, the challenge was to make it feel warm and inviting,’ said Claire.

Claire and Ben wanted something that reflected their modern style but allowed the architectural features of the room to breathe. As founders of a textiles company, soft furnishings – unsurprisingly – were a main focus.

They also wanted it to look Scandi-inspired, but not too much so, and use colour and texture in a fresh way but keep things feeling timeless so it would work throughout the seasons.

Remote interior design: an unconventional method

They opted to design on the living room, which is at the entertainment heart of the home.

For the two, whose schedules are packed at the best of times, the online service was flexible and convenient:

‘We both love interior design but when you’re running a company it’s hard to prioritise time to do this for yourself. Having someone who can give you professional direction and keep you focused on your ideas and on track is a must,’ she said.

Each of the designers that work with UDESIGN are hand-picked by Homewings for their professionalism and the quality of their portfolios, which guarantees a smooth service.

It affords more flexibility than a traditional interior design service too because you can work with designers from around the country.

‘For our project, we worked with Michelle Longoni, who wasn’t remotely near us, and with whom we wouldn’t have been able to work if it was off-line,’ Claire said.

Staying within the budget was essential. It was the biggest test of the service.

Step one: Defining the style & specs

The first step is to take a free quiz to determine your overarching style. Once completed, you then fill in a ‘design brief’, which is essentially the ‘consultation period’ that you get with traditional interior design services.

‘You answer questions like ‘which rooms do you want to re-do, how long do you want the process take (it’s normally two weeks but can be quicker), and your budget’,’ Claire said.

‘This budget question was essential for us. People call URBANARA and tell us they want to create a certain look within a certain price range, so this was the biggest test of UDESIGN.’

By uploading photos of the space, a floorplan, images you love and any extra information, Michelle Longoni, who fit their style and needs, was allocated to their project.

Step two: Designing the space

The interface is designed to be intuitive, modelled on a mixture of platforms that are familiar to use.

‘You log into this collaborative interface and it’s where you add, comment, and delete images. Michelle created a mood board for us that we discussed and tweaked over about a week.’

Example of a moodboard. Learn more here.

The thing that struck her most? How natural it was to collaborate remotely: ‘The one thing I noticed was how natural it was to work online,’ she said.

While some decisions were made by describing a look, she often turned to Pinterest or blogs to explain what she meant.

‘I was online anyway! It made sense to keep the conversation there for most of the time.’

‘And I found myself collaborating with my designer while on the road. If I had a spark of inspiration or an hour to myself, I could easily jump onto the design interface and share comments and pictures … I never imagined I’d be designing my home like that,’ she said.

Of course there were opportunities to speak with the designer on Skype to ensure they’re on the same track.
‘We did have a few discussions, actually, where we went back and forth over the selection of this or that item until it was exactly what I wanted,’ said Claire.

Step three: Final package & implementation

Once a moodboard and product picks had been decided upon, it was ready for the visualisation: Michelle plotted all the new additions to scale on a graphic floor plan, and visualised the new room design in 3D.

These come together with a shopping list and set up tips so it’s easy to purchase new products and put everything into place.

The Result

The completed room came within their budget and, for Ben and Claire, really packed a punch.

‘The room really reflects both of our tastes and feels light, airy and warm, just how we’d envisaged,’ she said.

The other thing that impressed them was the scope of the design service:

‘Of course moodboarding and product picks came into it, but Michelle went to great lengths to scour stores to find the right items for us, and suggested lots of affordable options, like painting the walls (which we decided against) and using plants (which we loved).’

‘We’re thrilled with the result and are really excited that it’s become the poster child for the new service!’

The first 20 customers get 50% off their first UDESIGN project – up to a £174 discount. Use the code UDESIGN at the checkout.