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We’re booking FaceTime appointments with our doctors and attending virtual dance classes, so why not get design advice through digital means, too?

Sure, it’s not as ideal as having a designer come to your home, where they can assess the space, floor plan and light for themselves. But these times call for adjustments. For many homeowners who wouldn’t normally hire a designer, there’s tremendous value in having a professional tell you to take the plunge or pull back, whether it’s a sofa or new paint colour you’re contemplating.

Designer Olivia Botrie, principal of Toronto firm Dart Studio, recently started offering e-design services, and says business is booming. “People are home more now, so inevitably they’re focused on the things that aren’t functional or that frustrate them,” she says. “We’re getting enquiries about everything from kitchen renovations to additions, along with decorating ideas.”

As with most things in life, set your expectations at “reasonable” to ensure you’ll get maximum return on the investment. What won’t you get out of the experience? All your home’s problems fixed in an hour, or 100-per-cent foolproof recommendations. “We can suggest a sofa and send a measuring guide, but the onus is still on the client to make sure it fits,” says Botrie. “There’s only so much we can do at a distance.”

That said, there’s a lot you can accomplish with a sounding-board session. If you’re looking for general advice, you can show the designer around the room in question, share a screen to discuss options, and come away with ideas for execution. For this kind of consultation, Botrie says you can expect to pay anywhere from $150 to $300 an hour relative to the designer’s level of seniority.

Ready to take it to the next level? Have a designer pull together a fully realized and customized plan: You send measurements, photos, videos and inspiration images, and the designer draws up a sketch and sends you goodies like tile, fabric and hardware samples. “Then, we go over it together via video chat and talk through the ideas,” says Botrie. “Think of it as your own unboxing video on YouTube.” For these more detailed sessions, expect to pay between $1,500 and $3,000, depending on whether it’s a decorating job or a full renovation.

“When you’re home alone and staring at your walls, you can get stuck in the decision-making process,” Botrie says. “A little advice from an expert goes a long way.”

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