Interior designer Gina McMurtrey is enlisting the Internet to reach a new customer demographic.
McMurtrey, owner of Willard-based Gina McMurtrey Interiors, opened her company June 1 and in August added an e-decorating service to her repertoire.
She said e-decorating is for do-it-yourself homeowners or people who have a concept of the look they want, but aren’t quite sure how to get there.
“Traditional interior design is a very personal process and requires a lot of hand-holding,” McMurtrey said. “E-decorating is more of an aesthetic type of assistance.” Decorating with an e-twist
When homeowners hire traditional custom interior designers, they are billed by the hour, making the cost somewhat open-ended, McMurtrey said, noting that her hourly rate is $65, and traditional design for a single room can cost more than $2,000.
Some of that cost is incurred because with traditional interior design, the designer spends time in the client’s home and often purchases high-end items that are available only to designers, McMurtrey said.
With e-decorating, clients fill out an online questionnaire about budgets, note likes and dislikes and send photos to McMurtrey. Instead of having to visit the home, she uses the pictures and data to draw up a plan and send it, along with a list of items that can be purchased to create the look, back to the customer. The customer can then use the list to find similar products at any store and in any price range, to redecorate the room.
“E-decorating gives access to people who couldn’t afford a traditional interior designer or who wants more control over their decorating,” she said.
While McMurtrey declined to disclose startup costs for her business, she said most of the expenses were tied to her Web site and requisite technology.
McMurtrey’s e-decorating prices range from $300 to e-decorate an entry, hallway or powder bath to $575 for a kitchen or media entertainment room.
“It’s an interesting concept,” said Nancy Asay, senior instructor and professor of interior design at the Missouri State University Department of Fashion and Interior Design. “I definitely think there is a place in the market for it. A lot of people may not want or need anything more than the package e-decorators provide.”
Neither McMurtrey nor Asay are aware of other local designers offering e-decorating services, but McMurtrey said it is being used on the coasts.Customer freedom
Jada and Tyler Dooling, 20-something professionals and new homeowners, like to work on their Springfield house in their free time, but they weren’t sure exactly what to do with the TV room where they spend most of their time.
Jada Dooling found McMurtrey’s Web site, www.ginamcmurtreyinteriors.com
, in July and sent her photos, along with the completed questionnaire about their budget and other specifics.
“We had a budget of $1,500, and she digitally decorated the entire room and gave us a shopping list,” Dooling said, noting that she spent $500 for McMurtrey’s suggested plans.
Dooling said she liked the freedom to change items on the shopping list.
For example, she said McMurtrey listed a lamp that cost $65, but the couple found a similar lamp for $25.
“It was really simple, and Gina was open if we had questions,” Dooling said of the process. The couple is about 90 percent finished with the project, and Jada Dooling said they plan to use
McMurtrey’s service for other rooms in their house.
Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan, a New York based interior designer and founder of online interior
design resource Apartment Therapy, said he hasn’t seen a lot of e-decorating yet, but it makes sense for a certain clientele.
“I don’t think high-end clients would use e-decorating, but I think it opens up a whole new demographic of people who used books and magazines to decorate before,” he said.
The best thing about e-decorating, Gillingham-Ryan said, is that it allows designers to connect to clients anywhere – but making personal connections is still important.
“I do think interior design is an art, not a science, and it is generally best done in person or even with a phone call,” he said. “If approached in an impersonal level, I don’t think it will work.”
McMurtrey agrees that interior design is a personal process, and she tries to personalize the e-decorating process.
“I try to shop local stores and local artists and try to get at least one thing that is custom into the plan,” she said, noting that she designed the Doolings’ fireplace mantel.[[In-content Ad]]