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Credit: Modsy

Do you suffer from decorating paralysis? You know, that debilitating fear that no matter how many hours you spend saving pictures on Pinterest or browsing furniture sites or staring at that wall of paint chips at the hardware store, you’re always one click away from making a huge, costly mistake. I do. And I think about decorating for a living.

It’s almost impossible to guarantee that a piece of furniture you loved in the store or online will look just right in your house, even for decorating pros. So what hope is there for the rest of us?

This conundrum is exactly why I was so intrigued by a new online decorating service called Modsy. The site, launched by Google alum Shanna Tellerman in 2016, uses 3D imaging tools to create a photorealistic rendering of your space, then lets you “try on” different pieces of furniture within the model. Of course online interior design services are nothing new, but the thing that peaked my interest about Modsy is that everything is shown perfectly to scale — in my opinion the trickiest element for an amateur decorator to get exactly right.

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Sure I can make a 2D mood board and fill it with complimentary pieces. But will the side table be too high for the sofa? Will a piece of art look lonely on that giant wall? Will I be falling out of bed trying to put my phone on a pint-size night stand?

Modsy offered to let me test drive the tool, and the results were undeniably impressive and so, so satisfying.

Here’s how it works:

I took a short quiz on their site that determined my style was “Atomic Industrial.” (I agreed with a little less than half of that description and skepticism set in.)


Next, I uploaded eight of the most amateurish photos ever taken of my existing, empty living room from the angles dictated by the site. (One is above for your reference and my embarrassment.)

Ten days later I received an email that my room designs were ready. I clicked apprehensively.

modsy photo directions
Credit: Modsy

Reader, I loved them. Seeing my room free of drying cabinet doors and snow boots alone would have been a joy, but the renderings were also shockingly realistic and the designs were not far off from what I’d have picked for myself. (Anyone who spends less than all day every day looking at and writing about home design would likely find a near-perfect representation of their taste.)

Credit: Modsy
Credit: Modsy
Credit: Modsy

Modsy decks out the renderings in furnishings, decor and art from hundreds of partner vendors like West Elm, Article and Anthropologie. But it’s up to the client to pull the trigger on pieces — a process Tellerman calls “supported do it yourself,” and one that will appeal to anyone who wants to take an active role in decorating their home.

Users can also have the Modsy team sub in any piece currently available from an online retailer. I asked them to switch out the dining chairs for some black Windsor chairs I already have from Target.

Or, for a fee of $10, Modsy’s team will create a rendering of a vintage, one-of-a-kind or custom piece you already own. I asked them to recreate the exact configuration of my modular sofa from IKEA, which is one of the few major retailers not in their network. (See both new pieces added in the renderings below.)

Credit: Modsy
Credit: Modsy

The Result:

The 360 view, which verges on virtual reality, allowing the user to look around the room as if you’re in it, was undeniably satisfying and fun. You can view four variations of my room: the two original designs, here and here, and two featuring my real sofa and chairs, here and here).

I was pleasantly surprised by Modsy to say the least (and so were my skeptical designer friends). But perhaps more importantly, the process relieved my stress about actually buying a few pieces I desperately needed, and affirmed my faith in this room one day looking really good.

You can take the style quiz for free, here. Two fully rendered designs (and getting your decorating groove back) will cost you $99.