A Chat with an Online Room Designer

It seems we can do everything online these days, right? Even designing a room with help from a professional can be done online. We’re curious to find out a bit more about this kind of interior design service, so today we’re chatting with online room designer Christine Martin from Decorilla.

A Chat with an Online Room Designer - Christine Martin of Decorilla

How did you get into online room design?

I guess my lifestyle led me to online decorating. For the last 12 years I had been living overseas and, in each place it was my first inclination to create home away from home. I had first-hand experience with the challenges and desires of being an expat who wanted a comfy home atmosphere. After receiving my interior design certification, I realized I could help international dwellers, like myself, do just that. I began working on Decorilla, which is a site that helps people design a room online. I had already virtual design experiences in places like the United States, Korea, Germany, China, Tunisia, and Saudi Arabia and that helped to develop our streamlined process. It’s been a very exciting to be able to design in global way like this.

Who is virtual room design right for?

We’ve seen all types of clients taking advantage of this service. From the 40 year old bachelor who wants a mature look, to the super mom who wants the living room to be more than toy storage. We’ve seen many busy professionals and busy families who need help creating their perfect space. Since it makes interior design affordable and accessible, online room design really can be for anyone.

A Chat with an Online Room Designer - Christine Martin of Decorilla

(c) Christine Martin for Decorilla

What do you think are the biggest advantages and disadvantages of using an online room design service like Decorilla’s – from a client’s standpoint?

The advantages are many. Decorilla works with accomplished professional interior designers and gives clients multiple visual design options. With any given project launched, clients are able to choose from various design concepts submitted by our diverse and skilled team. This takes away the fear that people have of not having a designer meet their style or design vision. Being able to communicate on our interactive platform makes clients feel more comfortable and creates a connection with the designers. Another big advantage is the savings potential. Decorilla’s service is 80% less than traditional interior design. Our partnerships with popular furniture and home decor companies allow us to offer our clients exclusive discounts of up to 25% on items recommended in the shopping list.

Perhaps a disadvantage of virtual interior design for a client is not being able to physically show the designer the space. It’s a collaborative process (combining DIY and traditional interior design), so clients have to do some of the work themselves like taking pictures of their room and the items that they want incorporated into the design.

Can you tell us about a challenging project you worked on and the design solutions you came up with to make the project work?

In 2013, I was hired to redesign a twelve room boutique hotel in Luang Prabang, Laos. The bottom floor included a restaurant and lobby that needed a makeover as well. Walking into these areas felt dark, narrow and unwelcoming; not a great first impression. The challenge was to shift this energy completely. By removing the heavy wood cladding on the ceiling, offering a fresh coat of white paint, and selecting furniture pieces with organic finishes, the space opened up and felt brighter. Additionally, we added a variety of lighting options (recessed, pendants, floor, candles) to enhance the atmosphere. The result was a pleasant space for travelers to rest or have a meal.

A Chat with an Online Room Designer - Christine Martin of Decorilla

(c) Christine Martin for Decorilla

What would be your top three design tips to anyone thinking of redecorating their home?

1.     Get inspired! Collect images (use Pinterest or an old-school corkboard will do) of anything that makes you happy: home decor magazines, fashion, art, etc. These will help drive the final outcome of your space.

2.     Figure out decor priorities and create a budget with those in mind. Avoid spending getting out of hand by being clear on your preferences. Perhaps it’s a comfy sofa or a beautiful original work of art that will make the space for you; regardless, having a shopping plan will help in eliminating “buyer’s remorse” or trial-and-error situations.

3.     Express yourself.  Homes, like the clothing we wear, are reflections of our personalities. Having a design that looks like a catalog page is undeniably lovely. But, sprinkling unique touches customizes a space, making it special. The antique chair your aunt once owned, the great art find at a yard sale, or the colorful rug from your trip to Morocco; these items have their distinct stories that bring a design to life.

Do you have any personal “golden guidelines” you feel are crucial to good interior design?

Paying attention to lighting; it can make or break any design. I like to mix up lighting sources for function and enhancing ambiance.

Going with the flow. Feng Shui is an ancient practice for a reason; it’s amazing how much of an influence color, materials, and layout have in a space.

Letting nature have a part. Botanicals are the life force element in interior design. Whether it’s a gorgeous hanging fern, small succulents, or a tall indoor plant, these help bring the outside indoors while breathing freshness and adding natural beauty to any design plan.

A Chat with an Online Room Designer - Christine Martin of Decorilla

(c) Christine Martin for Decorilla

If you could design any famous person’s home (past or present), who would it be?

Cesaria Evora. I had the privilege of watching her in concert once; she was wearing a colorful long dress, barefoot, singing soulfully in Kriolu, a Creole language mixing Portuguese with the west African dialects. Her music transports. I think designing her home with influences from her native Cape Verde and her unique life history would be a blend of coastal, rustic, and global styles.

Can you describe your personal interior style?

I love variety, to change things up. This is why eclectic style suits me well. Throughout the years of traveling and living internationally, I’ve created a small collection of global decor favorites. I love trying to fuse influences in a way that appears natural. Interiors that feel warm and comfortable while having interesting combinations completely draw me in and inspire me.

A Chat with an Online Room Designer - style inspired

christine’s style inspiration – images via – 1 // 2 // 3 // 4

What does home mean to you?

“I long, as every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.”

-Maya Angelou

As someone who has moved around a lot, this quote pretty much expresses my idea of home. Regardless the significant differences in what’s outside (environment, language, culture), stepping inside a space that feels easy, safe, and full of things I find beautiful is always home to me.

Thank you Christine for chatting with us today!

So folks, have you or would you ever consider making use of an online room design service?

❤ Holly

2 Responses to “A Chat with an Online Room Designer”

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  1. Jonathan Webster says:

    My wife left this blog post up and since Christine Martin is responsible for the overall design of our house I had to read it. I agree completely with Christine when she says that using an online designer, such as herself, is a collaborative process (as it should be with any designer). The collaboration that Christine led resulted in our house being “our house” and not just somebody else’s design.
    Hat’s off to Christine for the challenges she takes on whether it be converting spaces in South East Asia or designing interiors in Saudi Arabia, like our place for example, and for making her service so accessible and approachable.

    • Holly says:

      Thanks for sharing your experience Johnathan! It’s true, that in the case of online interior design, the designer and client must work closely together in a way that is less conventional, but maybe more collaborative than with a traditional interior design service. Therefore it makes sense that, as you mentioned, the result is a more personal design, since effort and ideas from both sides are crucial and add value to the project. Glad to hear you’re so happy with your home! It’s so important to our well being :)

      Enjoy your space!!

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