Tastemaker: Designer Interior Decorating on a Budget

For most, interior decorating is at best a personal hobby to be handled in the down time one has in between work, self-improvement, drinking the pain away, and sleep. The idea of having a room actually designed by someone seems like an absurd luxury for anyone paying rent or dealing with a mortgage. So the new online service Tastemaker offers something of a look at how the other half lives for those on a budget; with a price range between $600 and $2250 depending on the size of room the and the number of items, the design plans on the site are extremely reasonable. However, the overeager should be warned that the price does not include the actual items needed to design the room, but instead consists of detailed plans on how to organize the room and what to buy.

The service is still very much a luxury item designed for those with aesthetic standards that outstretch their own abilities. It’s far more expensive than just buying furniture yourself, but much cheaper than the $5,000 or $10,000 some interior designers can run up in consulting fees. Control freaks need not apply: designer choices are limited to the few featured on the website at any given time, and once you accept a designer for your room you’re more or less in their hands. But one would guess that’s exactly where most of Tastemaker’s clientele want to be, as the designers featured tend to showcase the kind of effortlessly warm and inviting decorating that seems ripped directly from the pages of a magazine.

The site has an incredibly straightforward workflow, giving the user several opportunities to discuss the room with the designer, an incredibly important step in figuring out how expensive the actual items they select for the room will be – a miscommunication here and you end up spending your entire decorating budget on a sofa. And a “design associate” (kudos to whoever came up with that one) can come measure the room for you to guarantee that the designer has a perfect idea of what type of space he or she is working with.

It’s basically a more complex version of auction sites such as Gilt, JackThreads and MyHabit, design aggregators that assume you just want something nice and are less concerned about exactly which designer you’re buying. And really, that’s about as perfect a distillation of my feelings on material goods as I could ever think up. There’s a nice sense of democratization to ideas like this: you have the right to want to live outside your means, and they provide occasional brief chances to do so. Be it saving $130 on a pair of sneakers or $5000 on a well-designed living room, the access granted by these websites is always tantalizing.

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