Have you noticed the proliferation of virtual decorating services? From Anthropologie to Ethan Allen, it seems every retail furniture site wants to show you how to pull a room together (with their products, natch).
I think it's a great idea. While some of the advice is pretty simplistic, it's a great way to get inspiration from your favorite furniture stores. Maybe I can't afford that gorgeous chandelier, but perhaps I can find ways to bring some Anthro style into my home.
Pottery Barn's Design Studio offers tips on furniture arrangement and entertaining, complete with recipes and iTunes playlists! Its advice on accessorizing doesn't give a novice much to work with ("Shelves offer opportunities to present interesting vignettes." Really? I had no idea!), but its room-planning feature is fun and easy to use:
Everything these days is about socializing online, and Pottery Barn is no exception. It has a place where people can post questions, and galleries where budding Candice Olsons can upload pictures of their own rooms.
West Elm's Go-To Guides are heavily geared toward its own products, but it offers some solid advice on universal questions: How do I choose a monogram? How do I measure for drapes?
Anthropologie will send you fabric and wallpaper swatches, and its tools show how to mix and match bedding and what the cute knob would look like on your credenza. Its helpful glossary is cleverly designed (but you expected that, didn't you?):
Ethan Allan has long offered an in-store decorating service, and its online tools are great for folks like me who don't have a nearby store. It also has a room planner, but that didn't seem to want to play with my Mac.
Everyone really can be a decorator! What about you? Have you used any of these virtual services? What do you think about them? Let me know!