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I used an online design service called Havenly to plan the living room of my dreams on a budget

I used an online design service called Havenly to plan the living room of my dreams on a budget

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Havenly Mini
$79.00 from HavenlyOriginally $99.00Save 20%
Havenly Full
$129.00 from HavenlyOriginally $179.00Save 28%

As a recent college graduate, I've moved half of a dozen times in the last few years and accumulated quite the random assortment of furniture. Now that I work from home, I wanted to redo the living room in my current apartment.

I used Havenly, an online interior design service, to create a living room layout with mostly new furniture. The process was straightforward, personable, and fast, and the results included everything I was looking for.

I also spoke to Havenly CEO and co-founder Lee Mayer about starting the company. While trying to furnish and decorate her house, she found traditional interior design was expensive and required people coming in and out of her home.

Mayer said that the purpose of Havenly is to be accessible, transparent, and easy to use for anyone looking to revamp their home. "In many ways, what we're trying to do is create a way to give you a space that feels like you but hopefully a lot more elevated and a lot better," she said.

Keep scrolling to read about my experience using Havenly.

Pricing and tiers

There are two different design packages you can choose from. The first is Havenly Mini ($99), which is geared towards those looking for a few pieces of furniture or decor. The other option is the Havenly Full ($179), which includes a full room transformation, and is the package I used for my living room.

Both packages include several concepts, and you'll suggest revisions to get one final design, plus a curated shopping list of all the furniture.

While both packages are similar, the full tier includes more furniture pieces since it's for an entire room makeover. The larger package also includes layout visualizations and a floor plan so you know exactly where to put your new furniture and decor.

The process

Once I picked my package, I took the style quiz to give me an idea of the types of design I like the most. The quiz told me that my main design style is midcentury modern with Scandinavian, bohemian, and global substyles. I love midcentury-modern furniture, so the results didn't surprise me.

The next part of the quiz asked what my budget was, what state I live in, what kind of house I live in, if I am a renter or owner, and a few timeline questions. I was then paired with a designer to begin my project.

For the room profile, I uploaded 11 photos of my living room and took a photo of the black velvet couch I wanted to keep and incorporate into the new design. I also had to measure the room with a tape measure and provide a loose (very poorly sketched) layout of the floor plan I wanted.

I picked out my wish list of furniture, including artwork, side tables, accent chairs, a coffee table, and a media console. I rated photos of art vignettes from one to five stars. I did the same for color palettes and materials, although it was optional. I then added my budget. In hindsight, $1,000 was not realistic for the amount of furniture I was looking for.

The best part about the room profile is that you can make it as detailed and specific as you want. There are many optional boxes for adding information about who the room is for, how it'll be used, if you have pieces of furniture in mind already, and more. I recommend being detailed right in the beginning since it'll save you time in the future.

After completing the room profile, I got a message that I was guaranteed to have the first three room concepts within three business days. Three days later, my designer messaged me the designs, which I rated and commented on. I liked parts of all three designs and explained what worked for me and what didn't. I received another message right after saying that I would get the next design, "The Concept," in another four days.

"The Concept" is the second-to-last design. It arrived right on time, and I was blown away by the detail. My designer added a note that we were over budget, but I knew my original number was unrealistically low. However, my designer found less expensive chairs similar to the pricey originals.

I added a few more notes and was told I would have my final design, with a layout of the new furniture in my space, within a week. It was during the holidays, so my designer let me know there would be a delay.

The final design

A week later, I received my final design and was impressed by what it captured. All of my requests and tweaks had been executed, and I was thrilled with the results. My designer added details from items I own, including art and a plant stand. Even my dog was laying on the couch. Looking at the design felt like home.

I also received a 3D image of the space; it was fun to see the furniture and space come to life in a realistic photo.

The total was around $2,700 for everything I wanted on my list, which didn't shock me even though I was over my initial budget. The shopping list my designer provided had several options for accent chairs in a range of prices, and I could buy everything included in the final design with a click on a button.

I had no issues with the final concept, but my designer was willing to make any changes I requested. The communication from my designer and the Havenly system was impeccable, and the time frames were accurate. The process was easy, and I ended up having fun curating a dream living room space.

Tips for getting the most out of your experience

Mayer said that one of the most important aspects of working with an interior designer is honesty. Working with an interior designer can be intimidating, but the Havenly designers are trained to receive feedback to make the process collaborative. "If you hate the color purple, we won't use the color purple even if it's on trend," Mayer said.

The designs may not always have everything you're looking for right away, which is why learning what you don't like is helpful. "What we really hope to get out of it is a space that really reflects all of you and what you want in your space," Mayer said.

I didn't want to offend my designer with my feedback, but I also didn't want to end up with a design I didn't like. Being upfront worked well because my designer was extremely helpful and walked me through all of my options in a way that wasn't overwhelming.

Bottom line

Using Havenly to design my living room was incredibly easy and enjoyable. My designer was kind and thoughtful, adding personalized touches that made the experience all the more worthwhile. I am moving again in a few months and look forward to using Havenly for my bedroom. Next time, I'll add more detail to my room profile at the beginning and set a higher, more realistic budget.

If you're like me and can't afford to buy everything on your shopping list at once, it's still worth it to have the inspiration and ideas that you can keep forever. I am definitely planning to use it for all of my rooms at some point, even ones that don't need a complete makeover.

Havenly Mini
$79.00 from HavenlyOriginally $99.00Save 20%
Havenly Full
$129.00 from HavenlyOriginally $179.00Save 28%
Anna PoppHome and Kitchen fellowAnna is the Home and Kitchen fellow on the Insider Reviews team. She recently graduated from Seattle University where she studied journalism and French. Previously, Anna edited and wrote for her university's newspaper and has been published in the Seattle Times. Anna also has experience writing about sewing machines and party decorations. When she's not working, you can find Anna curating her next home decor project or planning themed gatherings with her friends.Learn more about how our team of experts tests and reviews products at Insider here.Learn more about how we research and review home products.