I Tried an Online Design Service



We had just moved into our home the week before COVID officially showed up in St. Louis (talk about timing!). As the working-from-home life began, I set up in our sunroom on a card table and folding chair. Not the most comfortable, but assuming it was temporary, I sucked it up. When it became undeniable that I would be working-from-home for the foreseeable future, I knew I had to give myself a better working space. But how could I shop for my office when I was stuck at home?!


Enter online design services.


Since I’m an Instagram marketer’s dream, I clicked on the first online design service ad in my feed: Havenly.  Havenly allows you to design your space with a professional all online. You can choose between two packages: Havenly Mini, where the designer will help you update your space or add finishing touches, or Havenly Full, which is a complete room makeover. I chose the full makeover to turn our sunroom into a sitting room-slash-office and set my budget.


I first took a quiz to determine my design style which I thought was preppy, clean lines, with a comfy aesthetic. Consider me surprised when my style came back “bohemian prep”! Apparently, that’s a thing.  


Based on my style results, I was matched to a large selection of designers who reflected my style. I spent countless hours pouring over portfolios and reading reviews until I found the designer for me: Kelly. I loved Kelly and all of her work! But so did everyone else. She wasn’t available for another month. So I settled in to wait since designing a room isn’t something you just do willy-nilly.


Once Kelly was free, the process started. We did everything through online messaging on the Havenly website. We could have done phone calls or texts, but I knew what I was going for – so we were off and running.


Kelly had me look over inspiration photos to zero in on my style preferences. She also had me rate various furniture and décor items. Within two days, she sent me three initial design ideas. I reviewed her suggestions and rated the design ideas, commenting on what I liked and didn’t, and so on.


Then came the final design concept and curated shopping list. Since I had set my budget early in the process, Kelly gave me a wide variety of items at different price points. What’s neat is that my design concept had about three to four different options for each of the items on my list. I really appreciated having so many choices! But I definitely, definitely went over budget.


So far, so good! Things were seamless and fun!


Until …


… it came to ordering. Since the designers get paid on commission, I placed my order through Havenly (couch, desk, coffee table, chairs, desk chair, accessories, fan, lighting) in May. I would love to show you a final-room-look but I’ve only received two chairs, sconces, and a rug.


That’s it. Since May.


My desk is back-ordered until DECEMBER. The coffee table came broken, and there are no more in stock. My first choice rug became out of stock so I had to go with Option #2. My desk chair is set to arrive at the end of October. It’s been nothing but “out of stock” or “back-ordered.” Apparently, everyone had the same idea I did!


With each back-order or out-of-stock, Kelly would add more options to my list. But when more and more things were MIA – I did find a few things on my own.


Some pros: The room layout Kelly suggested was something I would never have thought of myself. It’s perfect. Thus, she’s the professional, and I am not. Havenly’s Customer Service is responsive and quick. They took care of the broken coffee table right away and were kind when I tried to find a way to get my desk shipped sooner (even though I struck out).

So would I use Havenly again? Ummmm. I don’t think so. The backend of the process has just been so frustrating and depressing. Havenly is doing their best, I think, but to spend all that money and then have nothing to show for it but a rug, sconces, two chairs, and a headache is a bummer. Not gonna lie, I’m getting pretty tired of my folding chair.


Would you try an online design service? If you have, how’d it go?