Which interior design service should you use?
If you need help redecorating or furnishing your home, you have options online. We’ve compared two of the leading online design services – Havenly and Modsy – to see which one is really worth your money, time and patience when it comes to shipping delays.
This message goes through a direct comparison. For more information you can read our individual deep dives on Modsy and Havenly here.
How much do Havenly and Modsy cost?
Both companies promise to connect you with an interior designer, create a room design to suit your style, suggest furniture and other items, and help you order your final picks. Despite these superficial similarities, the companies differ in important ways.
Havenly offers two price tiers – Havenly Mini ($79 at time of writing) and Havenly Full ($129 at time of writing). The main difference: The full level includes a layout of the room and some “layout visualizations”, or renderings of the space.
Both Havenly packages include designer time on the project, multiple design reviews of your parts, concept boards of styling ideas, and help throughout the ordering process.
Modsy’s pricing starts at $159 for a Premium tier single room package, similar to Havenly’s full tier. There’s also a Luxe tier ($499 per room), which includes unlimited video calls with your designer, special discounts, and the ability to change floors from what’s currently there or create renders from plans. Both Modsy packages include 3D room designs, furniture discounts, and unlimited design revisions. There is also a third multi-room option.
A view of one of Modsy’s 3D renders of our home office
Credit: via Modsy
Getting started with Havenly and Modsy
With Modsy, I used the mobile app to scan the part, which the company used to take measurements for renders. Havenly asked me to take pictures instead and manually upload some measurements. I needed to submit a floor plan with Havenly, which Modsy didn’t need.
In both services, I could submit photos of items I wanted to keep, but they were treated differently. Havenly incorporated the photos into the Concept Board and Final Design and chose similar alternatives in their final visualizations, while Modsy charged $25 per item to incorporate it into their renders. Otherwise, they would choose a similar alternative. Modsy relies more on visualizations overall, so the expense of integrating elements makes sense.
Havenly’s room profile and style quiz were more in-depth. They asked me if I lived in an apartment or a house, and if I owned or rented. Later furniture choices reflected these decisions.
Both services use a style test early in the design process. Havenly’s was more flexible and had more inspiration options to choose from.
The three Idea Board collages at the start of Havenly’s design process
Credit: Via Havenly
Differences in the design process
Modsy’s design process begins with a call with your assigned designer, during which you review your room’s profile and discuss what you’re looking for in the space. Havenly offered it, but it wasn’t integrated. We ignored it and our design didn’t seem to suffer. We saved the half hour of planning and calling, choosing to exchange messages instead.
The first shippable with Modsy is a set of two layout schemes; you choose one to continue. From there, you receive two 3D renders of your part in different style options (and, apparently, a higher and lower price). From there, you can request revisions to these renders or trade in products yourself.
Havenly begins with collages, although they have particular names. First, the idea boards to refine your style. Then you get a concept board of potential products and a direction based on the idea board you have chosen. Next comes the final design, which includes a layout for the first time. Ultimately, the products and layout are used to create a 3D rendering of the room.
The processes of the two companies are very different. For someone who is more vision-minded, like my wife, Modsy’s reliance on 3D renders throughout the process was a huge plus. Havenly’s process is more similar to traditional interior design, and renderings play a secondary role. I would like Havenly to include the room layout with the Concept Board, so you can review the products with their location in mind.
The second Havenly render of our home office, across the room
Credit: Via Havenly
The role of visualizations
Modsy relies heavily on visualizations and 3D renderings of your space. After the first two layouts, which are computer-aided drawings, all designs have renders from multiple angles and a 3D room renderer that you can move around in. The company’s overall approach seems to rely more on software than Havenly’s. It seems they’ve calculated that the best way to sell furniture is to let a customer see it put together. Changes to elements create new designs, complete with renderings. In fact, with the company’s “Live Swap” tool, users can swap furniture themselves to compare different choices (though there are limits to how well this works).
With Havenly, renditions come last, and they are not editable by users. They look a bit like a trim – nice but not entirely necessary, since you’ve already made all your important decisions about furniture and layouts. That’s not as much of a downside as it sounds.
Modsy’s reliance on renders led me to decision fatigue (I could trade endlessly) and required staging the entire room, resulting in such an abundance of buyable options that she made a joke out of my budget.
For people like my wife who rely on a visualization to, well, see space, Modsy might be the best service. But even my wife agreed that Havenly’s drawings were better, and in the end, it worked out well for her.
Decide on products
It’s hard to shop through Havenly or Modsy for items that aren’t included in your design. It also makes it difficult to know what they are carrying. I was looking for a particular West Elm shelf to match a desk, and resorted to searching the name + site to find a listing on the design services websites, then asked the designer to add it .
Both services are suffering from shipping and delivery delays caused by the pandemic.
I went through this to try and make sure the designer made a commission on the sale, as they didn’t receive a commission on items they didn’t suggest or include in the final design (as per the service). That seems fair in a normal world, where products are available in abundance and choosing an alternative is a referendum on designer suggestions. But in the world we live in right now, where they were doing rounds of reviews to select items that I could actually buy, that just felt unfair to me.
Should you choose Havenly or Modsy?
Modsy’s reliance on renders gave potential rooms a design-by-the-numbers impression that undermined my confidence in their suggestions and did little to ease the decision fatigue I had turned to the service to avoid. . Both services are suffering from shipping and delivery delays caused by the pandemic.
Overall, I thought Havenly’s designs were better than Modsy’s. Maybe it was just that Modsy’s buyable renders seemed too much, but Havenly’s design was doable on my budget. If a nice piece within a given budget was the goal, Havenly delivered and Modsy didn’t.