VR Brings a New Feel in Your New Home
A failure of vision is the common problem most interior design projects that don’t go well, or don’t happen at all, tend to have. “You may fail to envision what you want, and do nothing. Or your vision, when completed, fails to match your fantasy. You live surrounded by your regret or spend even more to fix it.”
But every now and then, there is technology to the rescue as it often offers more ways to visualize. For example, how a costly couch would look in your living room or how a proposed kitchen renovation would come together. Virtual reality, augmented reality and 3D renderings are the latest tools designers and retailers are using to give clients a clearer vision of projects and purchases before they commit.
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“A lot of design is trying to explain yourself,” said Kevin Hecker of Sea Cliff, N.Y., a software engineer who needed help furnishing the living room of the Victorian-style house he shares with his wife and three children. “You have a feeling of what you want, but it’s hard to articulate. You just know it when you see it.”
Last fall, he decided to choose Decorilla, an online interior design service that offers virtual reality depictions of room redesigns. After sending photographs and dimensions of his living room and discussing his style preferences with a Decorilla designer, Mr. Hecker inserted his smartphone into virtual reality goggles he received in the mail to view the designer’s proposal.
“It really looked like our living room,” Mr. Hecker said. “It’s wild. With virtual reality, you can see how multiple pieces go together and from different views, as if you’re walking around.”
He fell in love with what he saw and ended up buying everything (aside from the fur-covered ottoman, because he and his wife were morally opposed) and arranging it just as suggested by the designer. Retailers like West Elm and Crate & Barrel provided most of the items and according to Mr. Hecker, the discounts he received by buying through Decorilla more than paid for the $445 design fee.
Decorilla’s prices range from $400 to $1,300, depending on the size of the room and the designer’s experience. Alternatively, the online interior design service Havenly charges a flat $199 per room, which includes emailed 3D visualizations of proposed designs.
Three-dimensional plans are not as immersive or as cool as virtual reality, but they do give you a pretty good sense of what your space would look like. Havenly’s renderings are created from photographs of your room overlaid with suggested furnishings, paint color, window treatments, accessories and other additions. Everything is to scale, giving you a sense of depth and proportion.
“We do a lot of testing around here and tried providing the service without the visualization piece,” said Lee Mayer, a co-founder and the chief executive of Havenly. “But when you get a rendering of your space, it creates a 15 to 20 percent lift in your likelihood to purchase through us the furnishings our designer suggested.”
It’s, however, not surprising, then, that some retailers have started developing visualization apps to help customers be more comfortable buying furnishings online.
Because of the expense and level of difficulty, only a few are experimenting with virtual reality. Examples include the Swedish furniture maker Ikea and Doing It Right This Time, or DIRTT, a Canadian company that builds prefab office and residential interiors, including cabinetry, bookshelves and partitions.