YCombinator-backed Tastemaker launches to the public in closed beta today, hoping to reach people who want to make professional home design a reality but previously thought it inaccessible due to excessive cost.
Like fellow YC startup Scoutzie, the Tastemaker marketplace functions by allowing users to submit a request for proposal, answering questions about their personal taste, budget and practical concerns like room dimensions.
Three vetted designers from the Tastemaker community then reply to the request within 48 hours, with ideas custom tailored to a user’s needs and a corresponding flat fee.
Users pick which proposal they like best and are then assigned a design concierge to help them walk through the process, with the option of having a design associate come to their home and survey the room personally. While they enter in payment information when they decide on a proposal, they don’t actually get charged until they’re satisfied with the work.
The “work” comes in the form of a carefully and artfully packaged “Tastemaker design box,” which includes drawings, paint swatches, floor plans and an itemized list of what to buy.
On average the detailed Tastemaker design plans cost between $600 to $2250 based on room size, compared to $5k through $10 you’d pay for a traditional interior designer. The startup is also working on models where the designers actually track down and buy the items for users.
“Most of our customers are ‘decorating virgins,’” Tastemaker co-founder Joe Fraiman tells me,”and they don’t know what to expect from hiring an interior decorator. We have to educate them and it’s challenging to do that in a fun and appealing way.”
The startup, which monetizes by taking a cut of the design fees, eventually wants to get to the point where it does everything for the end-user. It also, interestingly enough, wants to expand conceptually, eventually pairing up interior design hobbyists like myself with people who want a tasteful yet inexpensive take on their living spaces, taking home design to the (next) grassroots level.
“We want to allow regular people to get the home makeovers they see on TV for a reasonable price,” says Fraiman, who likens the site to a more democratic and project-focused Houzz, “We hope to provide a source of endless on-demand work for skilled decorators who want to freelance; Professionals or people like you who just love home design and have the talent to do it.”
Tastemaker is currently letting users in 10 at a time, but TechCrunch readers who want to be skipped to the front of the line can sign up with this link.