Design can be hard. Design can be intimidating. Design, frankly, can even be scary sometimes. For so many of us, matching paint colors and choosing the right sofa for our spaces is not exactly intuitive.
To make matters worse, when you enter into the design world, it feels so rarified—fancy designers talking about incredibly beautiful but oh-so-expensive objets d’art that feel as if they would never survive life with two toddler boys and a dog. We knew that if the two of us were feeling in need of more accessible professional design help, there must be hundreds, if not thousands, of other people who felt the same way.
On top of it all, in these HGTV-obsessed days, we are constantly bombarded by images of perfect rooms. (Where do they hide their electric cords, seriously?) If you’re anything like Emily and me, you’re feeling a little bit like you can’t compete. We have lives, jobs, bills, pets, maybe even kids, and getting your home Instagram-perfect can often be the last priority.
Havenly is the company we started in 2014 to help make designing and decorating your home easier. We had both moved, both felt like we were at turning points in our lives (Lee had just gotten married; Emily had just gotten her first job), but both of us felt it took us a long time to get our new places furnished. We were both working full-time, and while we really wanted our homes to reflect our personalities, we just didn’t have the time to pore over hundreds of websites to find the exact right items—items that all went together and
that were in our price range.
Our inability to put our homes together created a lot of stress. Lee remembers coming home late from a long workday, sitting on the floor of her empty living room, and trying to figure out which sofa and rugs she should buy. She was paralyzed by all the decisions she needed to make, and she felt as if her vision for a perfectly executed dinner party was moving further and further away.
As we went through this experience, we both felt as if something was missing in the home-design space. In our experience, there was no way that a normal, I-don’t-have-a-$200K-budget-for-furniture-are-you-kidding-me? gal could easily navigate through the many expensive options in the furniture market and end up with a beautifully and affordably designed, but still livable, home. We wanted to create a welcoming community where we made design dreams come true, without any judgment or pretense.
We saw that the traditional interior design model—you know, the one where someone fancy comes into your home and holds your hand through the entire design process—was cost prohibitive for many people. (I mean, honestly, for $300 an hour, shouldn’t we get a designed home as well
as our dinner made and the kids put to bed?) On the other hand, we learned how overwhelming it can be to undertake a design project on your own. Let’s be honest: for the slightly less home-decor inclined, Pinterest ideas in execution can end up looking more like science projects gone wrong, and the time investment to get it all done is something that so many of us can’t afford in our busy lives.
The hard part, for us at least, was making the leap from lucrative traditional careers into starting a company around design. We realized though, as we talked to hundreds of friends, colleagues, and family members, that we weren’t the only ones feeling bewildered at the prospect of designing a well-presented home. Clearly a market existed, and ultimately, the risk of leaving our careers to pursue an idea that we felt had a lot of people excited wasn’t as big as the potential regret of missing an opportunity to help a lot of people like us.
And so . . . we created Havenly.
Our mission with Havenly is to make design accessible to everyone. Because don’t we all deserve a beautiful home? We believed that technology could help deliver design services cheaper and more easily no matter where in the country you live, and so we set off to start an online design company. Fast-forward several years, and we are proud to have built a company that is providing work for hundreds of people, has raised nearly $60 million in venture capital, and has created more than one million designs across the country. It feels as if we have come a long way!
We didn’t start out as designers. But in the course of helping all of our customers and sorting through all of the data that we have on what people like and don’t like and what they need in their homes, we have learned a lot of tips and tricks that we are excited to share with you. So get prepared as we think through how to get started, your budget, your colors, the different styles you can choose from, and how to actually make your home dreams become a reality.
Here’s the deal: we know there’s a ton of home decor information out there, and every day you’re being bombarded with blogs and photos and maybe even TV shows that boast about “Transformations on a Budget!” or “Celebrities Homes and How to Re-Create Them!” But do you ever feel that after reading everything that’s out there, the information overload just leads to paralysis, leaving you staring at your unadorned walls or confused about which sofa that will work best for your living room? Or maybe you feel that some of the information that’s out there isn’t really relevant to your style, budget, and taste, so you feel at a loss for how to incorporate those tips into your personal space.
That’s where we come in. We’ve created this book, Design the Home You Love
, with a completely fresh approach to designing a home that’s curated from the best design advice we’ve learned. We have created a way to break down the ambiguous and sometimes intimidating world of home decor, to help you start your own home journey armed with information and education, and to set out the defining qualities that make for a beautiful home—for all styles and budgets. In becoming one of the country’s leading online design firms, we have worked with hundreds of thousands of clients, and from that experience, we have created a proprietary framework that is data driven, but can be personalized to your needs. Throughout this book, Lee will lead you through her journey and a lot of the basics and interior designer–approved tricks to creating a home that is uniquely you and that works for you and your family. Emily will be adding in real-world solutions to some design dilemmas that she’s faced and she’s seen clients face along the way. We hope you enjoy the ride.
xo, Lee and Emily
Copyright © 2021 by Lee Mayer with Emily Motayed, Founders of Havenly. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.