On Business: Interior Design Service Online

Cary woman can decorate your home, online

CorrespondentAugust 12, 2013 

Lisa Davidson of Cary started Interior Design Service Online, a web-based interior design firm.

COURTESY OF LISA DAVIDSON

— Lisa Davidson can give a room a makeover without ever setting foot in the owner’s home.

Davidson started Interior Design Service Online in 2007, when the concept of web-based interior design was in its infancy.

But the Cary woman has quickly grown her business into an industry leader.

Unlike traditional design services, Davidson’s contact with clients is almost exclusively online. The anonymity appeals to many people, she said.

“It takes away the stigma of someone coming into their house. Some people are apprehensive about having someone see their home, and this takes that away,” Davidson said. “It also lets people say they did the design themselves.”

Interior Design Service Online clients fill out a questionnaire that gives Davidson a feel for their needs and interests. Homeowners provide measurements and photographs of the room, but Davidson doesn’t expect a huge time commitment from them.

“I’ve made it as streamlined as possible,” she said. “People don’t want to put a lot of work into it.”

For a flat fee, Davidson designs a blueprint of a room, evaluating furniture and color options and offering a workable layout.

In return, the client receives a binder with Davidson’s notes in addition to the room layout and design tips.

“I include my rationale for the design, so they understand why I did what I did,” she said.

The client then has a plan to carry with them when furniture or paint shopping.

“One size doesn’t fit all,” Davidson said. “Every design is unique.”

Online designing has become more popular in recent years, partly because it is cheaper than hiring an in-house designer. Davidson said her prices are a fraction of what she would charge to work with a client in person.

Her work has attracted attention within the industry. She was a winner of an episode of HGTV’s “Designers’ Challenge,” a show in which a family chooses a design team to redo a room, and she was recently featured in Unique Homes Magazine.

Although she began her online business as a way to juggle work with motherhood, Davidson said there are other advantages too.

“When meeting in person, clients often want instantaneous answers, and I can’t always be creative on demand,” she said.

Setting her own schedule, she said, gives her time to produce top-quality designs.

Davidson works with clients from around the world and has found a large market in the Middle East, particularly the United Arab Emirates.

“I try to marry their unique design styles with an American influence,” she said.

Recently divorced men looking for decorating tips are also a niche within the interior-design world.

Davidson estimates that half of her business comes from repeat clients.

“They had a room done and then come back when there’s a life change,” she said.

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