Home & Design

Interior Design Gets a Dash of DIY

Houston designer Meg Lonergan has a new stripped-down service for those with tight budgets and expensive taste.

By Sarah Rufca Nielsen June 30, 2016

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The design details inside a Mail by ML box.

Hiring a full-service interior designer is a luxury, but having a well-designed home doesn't have to be. That's the idea behind Mail by ML, a new service from Houston designer Meg Lonergan.

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Meg Lonergan

"We get a lot of calls from people who want to use us but their projects may be smaller or they might feel a little uncertain about signing on with a full-service interior design firm," says Lonergan.

Instead of signing on to a potentially budget-busting full-house renovation, users can select one room at a time, submit detailed photos, measurements and a Pinterest board (or similar) that reflects their style. Lonergan's team will then compose a complete design plan including instructions, concept photos, a floor plan, furniture placement layout, sketches and elevations of details in the room and a shopping list with items that are available to order locally or online, as well as products from to-the-trade vendors that can be ordered through the firm. The entire package arrives via mail in four to six weeks, with a sleek box full of paint samples, fabric swatches and wallcovering ideas all already organized for you and in one place. It's like Christmas morning for your house.

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From there, executing the design plan is up to you, whether you want to DIY or hire professionals to bring it to fruition. All of the above certainly a little more effort on the part of the homeowner, but the result is a professionally designed space for a fraction of the full-service price. Mail by ML room designs start at $1,500 for an entry up to $3,800 for a kitchen, with 15 percent off for repeat clients. Users can also add on $250 for a details package that would include tabletop pieces, flatware and linens in a dining room, for example, or sheets, pillows and towels in a bedroom. 

"Having the complete design upfront gives them a guideline that they can follow and execute in their own time frame," says Lonergan. "It should be an expression of yourself. It doesn't have to be perfect. It can have quirks. It can be fun and reflect you and your personality. It's sort of like you're uncovering who you are through the design process."

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