If you need some help redecorating or furnishing your home, you have online options. We compared two of the leading online design services — Havenly and Modsy — to see which one really deserves your money, time, and patience through shipping delays.
How much do Havenly and Modsy cost?
Both companies promise to hook you up with an interior designer, create a room design based on your style, suggest furniture and other items, and help you order your final picks. Despite these surface similarities, the companies differ in important ways.
Havenly offers two pricing tiers – Havenly Mini ($79 at the time of writing) and Havenly Full ($129 at the time of writing). The main difference: The Full level includes a room layout and some “layout visualizations,” or renderings of the space.
Both Havenly packages include the designer’s time on the project, multiple revisions of your room designs, concept boards of style ideas, and help throughout the order process.
Modsy’s pricing starts at $159 for a Premium-level single-room package, which is similar to Havenly’s Full tier. There’s also a Luxe level ($499 per room), which includes unlimited video calls with your designer, special discounts, and the ability to change flooring from what’s currently there, or create renderings from blueprints. Both Modsy packages include 3D room designs, furniture discounts, and unlimited design revisions. There’s a third, multi-room option as well.
A view from one of Modsy’s 3D renderings of our home office
Credit: via Modsy
Getting started with Havenly and Modsy
With Modsy, I used the mobile app to scan the room, which the company used to take measurements for the renderings. Havenly asked me to take photos instead, and upload some measurements manually. I needed to submit a floor plan with Havenly, which Modsy didn’t require.
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 an item to incorporate it into their renderings. Otherwise, they’d choose a similar alternative. Modsy relies more heavily on visualizations overall, so the fee for incorporating the items makes some sense.
Havenly’s room profile and style quiz felt more thorough. They asked whether I lived in an apartment or a house, and whether I owned or rented. The subsequent furniture choices reflected these decisions.
Both services use a style quiz near the beginning of the design process. Havenly’s was more flexible and had more inspiration options to choose from.
The three Idea Board collages at the beginning of Havenly’s design process
Credit: Via Havenly
Differences in the design process
Modsy’s design process starts with a call with your assigned designer, during which you go over your room profile and discuss what you’re looking for in the space. Havenly offered this, but it wasn’t baked in. We skipped it, and our design didn’t seem to suffer for it. We saved the half-hour of scheduling and having the call, choosing to message back and forth instead.
The first deliverable with Modsy is a set of two layout drawings; you choose one to proceed with. From there, you receive two 3D renderings of your room in different style options (and, seemingly, a higher and lower price point). From there, you can request revisions to those renderings, or swap out products yourself.
Havenly starts with collages, though they have special names. First are Idea Boards to hone your style. Then you get a Concept Board of potential products and direction based on the Idea Board you chose. Then 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 two companies’ processes feel very different. For someone who’s more visually inclined, like my spouse, Modsy’s reliance on 3D renderings throughout the process was a huge benefit. Havenly’s process is more similar to traditional interior design, and the renderings play a secondary role. I wish Havenly included the room layout with the Concept Board, so you could give feedback on products with their locations in mind.
The second Havenly rendering of our home office, of the other side of 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-assisted drawings, all designs have renderings from multiple angles and a 3D room rendering that you can move around in. The company’s approach overall seems to rely more heavily on the software than Havenly’s. It seems like they’ve calculated that the best way to sell furniture is to let a customer see it set up. Changes to items create new designs, complete with renderings. In fact, with the company’s “Live Swap” tool, users can change out furniture themselves to compare different choices (though there are limits to how well this works).
With Havenly, the renderings come last, and they’re not editable by users. They feel a bit like a garnish — nice but not entirely necessary, as you’ve already made all your major decisions about furniture and layouts. This isn’t as much of a drawback as it might sound.
Modsy’s reliance on renderings lead me to decision fatigue (I could make endless swaps) and required staging the whole room, which resulted in such an abundance of shoppable options as to make my budget a farce.
For people like my spouse who rely on a visualization to, well, see the space, Modsy might be the better service. But even my spouse agreed that Havenly’s designs were better, and in the end, the rendering suited him fine.
Deciding on products
It’s difficult to shop through Havenly or Modsy for items that aren’t included in your design. This also makes it difficult to know what they carry. I was looking for a particular West Elm bookshelf to match a desk, and resorted to searching the name + site to find a listing on the design services’ websites, then asking the designer to add it in.
Both services suffer from the shipping and delivery delays caused by the pandemic.
I went through this to attempt to ensure the designer made a commission on the sale, as they didn’t get a commission on items they hadn’t suggested or included in the final design (depending on the service). This seems fair in a normal world, where products are abundantly available and choosing an alternative is a referendum on the designer’s suggestions. But in the world we’re currently living in, where they were doing rounds of revisions to select items that I could actually buy, it just felt unfair.
Should you go with Havenly or Modsy?
Modsy’s reliance on renderings gave the potential rooms a design-by-numbers feel that undermined my confidence in their suggestions and did little to quell the decision fatigue I’d turned to the service to avoid. Both services suffer from the shipping and delivery delays caused by the pandemic.
Overall, I thought Havenly’s designs were better than Modsy’s. It may have just been that Modsy’s shoppable renderings felt like too much, but Havenly’s design was attainable on my budget. If a beautiful room within a given budget was the goal, Havenly delivered and Modsy didn’t.