A comprehensive design app that connects you directly to furniture retailers, eliminating the frustrating middle ground of redecorating and furnishing a home. Available for iPhone and iPad from the App Store, DecorMatters allows you to extensively design any room, making as many changes as you'd like, before purchasing anything.
DecorMatters is a simple, effective, working design app. One of its main pitches is to connect shoppers and home renovators with retailers with the intention of streamlining the interior design process. The network connects retailers with customers on a large and more personal scale and allows shoppers to simplify their home renovation experience by collaborating directly with those retailers and their products. Unlike some other design apps that rely on more generic furniture options—to visualize on a general scale, rather than to design to the detail—DecorMatters connects users with dozens of both large and small furniture retailers and their actual products, meaning you can shop through Wayfair, Pier1 Imports, and many, many more—all at the same time in your virtual space. Then, once you’ve settled on a final design, you can connect with those retailers to purchase your selections and make that dream design come to life.
The app is designed to serve furniture shoppers at any and all levels—from passionate DIYers to professional interior designers. They also partner with several universities, working with instructors and students to provide exposure to design programs. The app also has a large social media platform, with daily challenges and leaderboards geared at making design a gaming interface experience.
DecorMatters is an app, available in the app store for iPhone and iPad only. As of yet, there is no desktop or Android version. The main app is free, but in-app premium features are available for purchase. These purchases allow you more storage space, so you can save and upload favorite items, as well as expand your collections with personalized décor.
DecorMatters is powered by both augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI) automation features, to help visualize a design in space and smart-fill remaining spaces, respectively. Their AR technology allows you to visualize your designs in your actual space. Simply allow the app to access your device’s camera, and line up the design with the room in real time. The in-app AI algorithm assists with design automation. These product recommendations are based on your preferences and are meant to save loads of time that would otherwise be spent scrolling endlessly through furniture choices.
Getting Started—Setup and Features
After downloading the app from the App Store, simply open it up and get started. On your first visit, it will provide a small tutorial for orientation, then feel free to explore and become familiar with its features.
It offers a ton of templates—dozens each for living rooms, dining rooms, office spaces, bedrooms, kids rooms, and outdoor spaces—to help get started, cutting out the tedious phase of designing the physical floor plan of space so you can get straight to designing the interior and furniture layout.
Set up a profile to keep track of your templates and ongoing designs, and to post and interact with other users. From the profile settings tab, you can find all the tutorials to guide you through using the design interface and cut down on time spent figuring out the features.
After selecting a template, the app will prompt you to select furniture and design items.
Tap on one of the plus signs to filter the selections in the menu at the bottom of the screen, and swipe up or down on the top of that menu to bring it to full screen for easier browsing.
Once an item has been placed, its size and location can be adjusted by tapping and dragging directly on the item. You can make items any size you like—comically large or small, even —to adjust for the dimensions of the space you may be designing in actuality since you can’t adjust the measurements of the virtual room.
The obvious main caution here is that this makes it tough to visualize how the actual item will fit in your space in reality—if you’ve adjusted it to the size it looks best on screen, it may not be proportional to your actual space. In this sense, the tool is really best to begin visualizing and to choose a basic design, rather than designing to the last detail.
Select any item in the room to open up its own menu. This new menu allows you to customize the angle the item sits at, flip it one way or another, turn it to face front or back, duplicate it, and adjust perspective.
Adjusting the perspective seems to be the most difficult part: it’s easy enough to set the perspective of an individual item, though the tool is a little clunky, setting it to match the perspective of the selected room can be quite perplexing, and sometimes not possible. For example, I can place this couch in the center of the room easily, but trying to place it against a side wall means it won’t line up against the vanishing point of the walls and rotating it just rotates it in space, not relative to the perspective of the room.
This is a noticeable issue for any squarish item placed anywhere but in the center of the room. There may be a way to do this, but it doesn’t show up on any of the main menus or editing features. The tool for this would be something like “place/activate a vanishing point” that then every item would be computer-adjusted to once it is placed in a room. It wouldn’t be perfect given the limitations of the product images, but the computer manipulation would probably help keep items at least somewhat in the same dimension.
Some items are limited in their choice of angles.
It looks like all the angles are pulled from original product images on the parent furniture websites; if a couch only has one photo, it will have only one angle in DecorMatters, but if there are several product images, several angles will be available. These purple chairs are a great example—I would love to put them facing towards the windows, but that’s not an option. With these, there was one product image, and I only have the option to mirror-image flip it.
NB: Every item you place will add another “layer” to the design. As you work, each new item is added to the top. If you need to change the order—say, you forgot to add a rug until the end and would prefer that it goes under the furniture (you know, fashion), simply select the rug and tap the “back” option in the bottom menu to send it behind other items, or tap the other items and select “front” to bring them up.
When you are finished resizing and placing an item (for the time being), feel free to lock it by selecting “lock” on the bottom menu. Unlock items at any time; this only prevents you from accidentally editing the wrong items, and could definitely be handy if your virtual space starts to get a little crowded with items.
While shopping, the main menu at the bottom of the screen is a dear friend. Sort items first by room, then select more specific furniture categories like sofas or coffee tables—note that accessories and lighting are their own primary categories.
When browsing through furniture, accessories, or lighting in the Shop tab, sort items by designated room, a specific furniture brand, or design style. If you’d like, add filters like color, brand, style, or price to your search.
As you work, the app will keep track of estimated prices at the top of the screen, making it easy for you to track your budget. Today, this didn’t matter to me since I was designing to my heart’s content. But in the world where I’m moving apartments or redesigning an actual bedroom, I love that it keeps a running tab as I work.
Save your favorite design items overtime—did you come across an accent chair that just didn’t fit in the room you were currently designing? Save it for later in MyDecor. You can also save items to your Wishlist, for a similar purpose. Both of these menus appear adjacent to the main shopping menu as you work.
Add accessories to complete your design. This menu is surprisingly large, including everything from photography and art to candles, curtains, and dinnerware. This is useful both to complete visualization and calculate a more accurate final price for your new décor.
When you’re finished designing, tap the arrow in the top right of the screen to save and post.
Looking to purchase items in your design? Go to your profile (bottom right) and open up the design in question. On this new page, all items will appear at the bottom of the screen under “Products in Design.” Tap an item here to view its retailer page and purchase. To save the design within your profile, rather than just the design feed, open it and tap the menu at the top right, then save.
From that same menu is one of the fancier features of the app. Tap “View in Room” to see an augmented reality—hold your device facing the room in question, and the app will overlay your design. It is necessary to stand in the room so that the design is oriented the same as it was virtually. It would be nice to have a full augmented reality I could walk through and see from, say, the opposite side of the room, but I can see where this would be challenging using only webpage product images to project.
From the homepage of the app, you can check out inspiration boards or look through many of the dozens of challenges, as well as interact with other users. Daily challenges give you a story and guideline, as well as XP rewards for participating.
The interface can be used as a social network, letting you compete in daily design challenges and so on, or simply as a design platform—there’s no requirement to participate in challenges just to access the design features, though you can opt into the premium version through in-app purchases that allow you more storage space. For personal use, this probably isn’t necessary, but for professional use when you might be saving and sharing designs on a daily basis, this extra save space will be handy.
Notifications for DecorMatters are optional—use the app simply for personal or professional use in interior design, or opt in for notifications about furniture sales, social network updates, and design challenges. You will have to link an email to participate in challenges (just using a template for personal design does not require this).
Pros and Cons of the app
Overall I actually really liked using this app. It’s simple to use and the features are totally manageable for getting started quickly on design projects. I love that it’s connected to actual retailers—mainstream retailers at that—so that I feel like I’m actually making progress. Linking to the product pages is also super helpful and cuts out a lot of tedious middle ground, which was the original point of the app. There were a few things that I didn’t like so much, in detail below, but DecorMatters definitely comes down to a net positive.
One annoying feature—and this is probably easier on larger screens simply because of the physical size of the work space—is that I keep adjusting the size of an item when I’m trying to move it. When an item is selected, you simply drag the corners to resize, or tap and drag anywhere on the item to move it. The problem is that when items are barely larger than my fingertip, there’s little way to differentiate between dragging the corner to resize and dragging the whole thing. A “tap-and-hold to move” would probably fix this.
A desktop version of the app would be nice—it’s not always easy to work interior design features on both a smaller and often more limited screen. Working on an iPad is alright, and call me old-fashioned, but I find it much easier to do work of this kind on a laptop or desktop computer (it would also fix the above problem).
The one truly glaring error I noticed was that many of the shoppable items are out of stock or no longer in production. In the sample design I did here, both the purple chairs and the rug no longer existed. For the purposes of passing time and designing a fun room, I couldn’t care, but if I were actually trying to redesign a room in my home, I would be disappointed to discover this. Yes, there are tons of similar items on the market, but this is at least a little frustrating. I don’t think necessarily that these items should be removed, but it would be nice to have a tag on them in the main search menus that indicates they’re out of stock—if I’m designing for fun, I can still select them, but if I’m looking to purchase, I have a heads up that I’ll need to look elsewhere for a similar item.
Ease-of-use: For what it’s designed to be, 5/5. There’s potential to market more towards professionals or young professionals, maybe as a premium purchasable version. Ensuring items are available for purchase, and fixing the perspective issues when placing an item in the room would make a huge difference in this being an amateur app versus more useful for functional interior design.
Value for money: 5/5. Since it’s a free app, DecorMatters is pretty fantastic. Small in-app purchases can give you more storage for saving favorite items, but that’s a totally reasonable price tag. Again, I think there’s definitely a world in which a premium version exists with a few added features that would absolutely be worth some amount of purchase.
Customer support: 4/5. The app has a built-in chat feature that typically replies in a few hours, so that’s a plus, but the FAQ section is lacking. All of the questions there are geared towards the social media and gameplay features—none address the user interface or features (things like adjusting the layers aren’t immediately obvious and could be answered very simply here).
Features: 4/5. The number of templates and comprehensive design tools is pretty great. Better controls on perspective for individual items would up the game a lot, specifically for those items that have few angles, but again that would be more significant if the app were marketed more towards professionals.