Interior e-Design: Bringing Design to the Masses?

An interior designer is empowering clients to do their own design work.

Newport Beach, California–based interior designer Brooke Shepherdson, founder of Brooke Elizabeth Design, is experimenting with a new form of design delivery aimed at small budget, low-maintenance clients with a service option called “e-design”. With the economy in a lull and after having her first baby last year, she was looking for new ways to work from home while raising a child, so that she could continue to engage with clients who love her style but either live in New York or simply don’t require a full range of services. She realized there was an untapped market of prospective clients interested in a streamlined design process; an e-design option would be ideal for do-it-yourselfers, someone living in a remote location or anyone on a limited budget who just needs a little design help. “People love the idea, and it makes a lot of sense in these economic times,” Shepherdson says. “I’ve found that my clients love to shop on their own, and with so many online retailers, they have the opportunity to find great items themselves, but they’ve all told me, they don’t know how to pull it all together or make the items they love fit well in their own personal space.”


In response, Shepherdson designed a custom solution: For an affordable flat fee (starting at $800), and after the client supplies photos and dimensions of the space, she delivers an inspirational design board displaying images and sketches, a scaled floor plan, furnishings selections, shopping list, and finally a step-by-step guide to assembling the space.


The program has been in place for about a year, appealing mostly to residential clients, but Shepherdson sees it as a good alternative for small businesses as well. “Small businesses often don’t have a budget for interior design but want a professional and welcoming environment. E-design is the perfect answer,” she says.


Shepherdson’s e-service program is still in its infancy, so it’s too early to tell if this new business model will be successful. It is, however, a smart solution when facing real life constraints—paperless, affordable, small-scale interior design. Not only does it make an elite service profession more accessible, its use of digital tools makes it, quite possibly, the future of the profession. Now, all you need is an iPhone app that can take reliable dimensions of the space in question, and you’ll be able to redesign a space with just a phone and a bank account! Here are some examples of projects she completed for clients in New York.

Laurie Manfra is a freelance architecture and design journalist based on Long Island. She can be reached at [email protected].

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