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How an online interior designer made my apartment look magazine-worthy

When I moved out of my shared two-bedroom apartment to embrace life sans roommates, I called it adulthood. What I didn’t anticipate was also calling it claustrophobia.

On some level, I’d accepted the fact that living by myself in Manhattan would mean giving up quite a bit of space, and theoretically, I was fine with it. After all, could I really put a price tag on privacy? Maybe not, but the New York real estate market could certainly put a price tag on a closet – or rather, a closet-sized apartment (without a closet of its own). And thus began my journey into adulthood, which I now called, anxiety.

Having heard tell of clever ways of utilizing even the smallest of spaces by way of good design, I decided that aesthetics were a potential solution to my absolute lack of room. So I turned to online interior design firm Laurel & Wolf to help me make use of every square inch (because really, there weren’t enough square feet to speak of).

When all your furniture folds into itself, how can you not feel as though you’re living the dream?

If the mark of success for a technology company is accessibility — and it certainly was for Warby Parker — then Laurel & Wolf has won. Not only does the design firm make the process as easy as possible (I simply uploaded floor plans and my poorly shot iPhone photos of the space), but its services are surprisingly affordable as well. The pricing model is simple with three design-package options, priced per room. And the one-time flat fee includes the entirety of the design process from start to finish.

To start, I uploaded photos of my tiny studio. (One perk of living in a single-room apartment comes in being able to design your whole house in…one room). I then received a number of different design options from various designers, all of whom attempted to match my modern, minimal aesthetic. After making my way through the so-called “first looks,” each of which featured different renderings of my space with furniture, art, and color palettes, I chose my designer. I soon began to think of her as my fairy godmother, as we spent the next few weeks communicating via the online platform on various design choices, colors, and budget restrictions.

I remained involved throughout the entire design process, though my participation was limited to “yes” or “no” responses to whether or not I enjoyed certain stylistic choices (was that red too red, or that couch too wide for that corner?). But even with my helicoptering ways, my designer managed to create a final style board I could take to the bank. Or rather, to Ikea.

But wait! No need to brave the hordes, I realized: Laurel & Wolf’s “Buy for Me” purchasing option meant that I simply needed to select the pieces from the Style Board I wanted delivered. I was even able to swap out certain pieces with more inexpensive options after a bit more sleuthing online.

Just weeks after beginning my process, I suddenly found myself in a fully-furnished, professionally-designed apartment that has somehow made living in a glorified closet almost, dare I say it, glamorous. After all, when all your furniture folds into itself, how can you not feel as though you’re living the dream?

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Lulu Chang
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