How Interior Design Businesses Are Going Virtual During the Coronavirus Pandemic

If this quarantine is inspiring you to nest and, let’s be honest, redecorate, you aren’t alone. Local designers are rising to meet the challenge by offering services virtually using technology like Facetime, Google Hangouts and Zoom. Some are even brainstorming new packages to meet clients’ changing needs.

Kelly G. Guinaugh of Chicago-based Interior Enhancement Group

Many of the designers we have spoken to are already offering virtual consultations and most are trying to keep projects moving as best they can. But with all shipments from China and much of Europe practically slowing to a halt, there are challenges. Site visits are being postponed until further notice as well.

Kelly Guinaugh, principle designer at Interior Enhancement Group in Chicago, says, “We can definitely do virtual meetings with clients, the architect and other people essential to the design process. We can send our clients floor plans and images of fabrics and finishes electronically and they can give us direction. There are enough design decisions that can be made virtually to keep the design process moving forward.”

Sabrina Alfin of Sabrina Alfin Interiors, a San Francisco-based company

In the San Francisco Bay Area, designers are adjusting in much the same way. Sabrina Alfin of Sabrina Alfin Interiors says, “If physical samples are needed for decision-making, we will make sure they are received via mail or ground shipping ahead of our discussions. Job site visits to check on work completion and/or installations will be managed on a case-by-case basis, and will also be vetted via web tools whenever possible.”

Upstart Modern founder Bettina Stiewe, who specializes in residential and corporate art consulting, has been working virtually with clients around the country for some time now and doesn’t consider this a shift in how she is doing business. “I’m currently working on projects in Chicago, St. Louis, Washington DC and throughout the Bay Area. While it’s helpful to be in the space and get a sense of scale, there’s a lot we can do with video tours and virtual meetings in lieu of in-person meetings.”

The Design Bar’s Leslie Bowman, photo courtesy of Erin McCarthy

Leslie Bowman and The Design Bar will soon introduce specialized gift packages that Chicagoland customers can design and purchase now then pick up later or have it delivered for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or the Easter holidays. According to Bowman, “There will be three different price points for the specialized design gift packages — $50, $100, and $150 before taxes. Customers will have the option to customize the items in each gift package price point to their specific taste via a virtual meeting with our team of experts at The Design Bar.”

Architect Eileen Gordon of GORDON + GREINEDER says that if you have been thinking about redecorating, the shelter-in-place mandate “could be a great time to spend time online creating mood boards on Pinterest and Houzz, and exploring designers’ portfolios and Instagram feeds. We have also heard from showrooms and suppliers offering virtual tours for anyone ready to specify materials or place orders.”

While it isn’t business as usual for the design industry, it seems that companies are being nimble and pivoting quickly. All great news for anyone wondering how they can support local businesses. And you just might finally get around to those home décor projects you’ve been putting off.

Are you in the middle of design project? Tag us on social — we’d love to see what you are up to!

For more from SPACES: