darla powell interior design miami virtual home office living room dining room nook

But wait, Darla... isn't your design team in Miami??

We sure are, my young Padawan! Which brings me to today's story...


Design at a Distance (Is It Really Possible?)

Melissa, a young, millennial, first-time homeowner living in — where else?!  —San Antonio, had just purchased her first piece of real estate. She came to us with no clue how to create a personalized home, was feeling a bit lost, and was eager for some design direction. 

She fell in love with our aesthetic, and even though she knew we're in Miami, reached out to see if we could help... and boy, were we the team for the job!

Working in IT (and mostly from home), Melissa needed a space that was at once relaxing and comfortable, as well as a professional and inspiring place of business. A daunting task?! Not for us. We were eager to dive right in. Even if we were hundreds and hundreds of miles away.


Goals for this Long-Distance Project

Our first order of business was to assess Melissa’s design aesthetic. Until now, she had never owned her own place, so this was her first opportunity to really put her mark on a home. The problem was, she came to DPI very ambiguous in her style and unsure of her options. 

Once we sat down with her (thanks to good ol' Zoom), we helped her analyze her likes and dislikes. We were quickly able define her personal style, which would play a key role in designing a cohesive, unique space for her later on. 

Beyond defining her style, we set the following goals:

  • Create a space plan that fits her lifestyle
  • Specify furnishings for a budget-friendly home within her price range
  • Create a comfortable living space for her (and her slew of cats that roam the halls)
  • Infuse her newly-defined personal style into the space

With those things in mind, we got to work!


Our Process for Designing from a Distance

The process for designing Melissa’s home was far from ordinary, but it was oh-so-wonderful! However, not without its own unique challenges…

The home she purchased was an old home. Not like 40 years old. We are talking old OLD! In fact, that the city no longer had records of the blueprints or floor plan. What does that tell ya?!

Unfortunately, the lack of floor plan was a bit of a problemo. As designers, we use the floor plan for EVERYTHING! From calculating square footage to getting painting estimates... from sizing out the space (to make sure all of the large items fit comfortably in the home) to placing furniture so we know the best orientation of the piece. Seriously, everything.

But... we weren't exactly in Melissa's neighborhood to whip out our digital tape measure. So we got creative.

We asked Melissa to go out and buy a tape measure. Then, we hopped on Zoom and I walked her through every inch of the home, taking down measurements while she did the actual measuring. Does it sound like a lot of work?! Well, it was... but we had a blast in the process! I mean, spending time with someone while they measure every square inch of their home... how can you not crack jokes and make it a good time?! Hello, new BFF.

Once we had every measurement accounted for, it came time to piece together each room like a puzzle, which was a fun challenge! For real... I love brain games and puzzles. This was a tough one, but so rewarding!


And in the end, we were able to create a comprehensive space plan that Melissa is able to work from, not only for this current design project, but moving forward as well. Boom!


Inspiration for an Individualized Home

Keeping in mind the dual purpose of Melissa’s home (business and leisure), as well as her youthful energy and vibrant personality, we knew we needed to furnish a space that was stunning and sophisticated while also fun and fresh.

Boring? Not at all. Unexpected? Yes. Brilliant? Absolutely!!! Come take a peek at the 3D renderings we prepared for her...


A Sophisticated Yet Fun Home Design


We tried to keep the majority of the design neutral and polished, but when we realized that Melissa owned a print of Frida Kahlo’s famous “Tea Time” painting, it became our inspiration piece for the whole home!

This is where that particular painting ended up... in the feminine and delightfully luxurious breakfast nook. Modern chairs in sapphire complement the modern-style architecture. A sultry pendant adds to the sophisticated mood. And the bronze table base warms up the space alongside the vibrant painting. LOVE.

Sipping coffee each morning (or enjoying happy hour) in this stunning space and looking out these windows — that is what dreams are made of, amirite?


With the colorful, vibrant, and slightly edgy painting as inspiration, we went through the home, drizzling in pops of color with statement furniture, art, and lots of fun accessories. These sparingly used, bright, whimsical colors create moments of creativity and energy in an otherwise refined and sophisticated space. Perfect harmony.

In the living room, for example, we specified sophisticated furniture with black accents (that complement the architecture) and colorful artwork. This living room is now as fit for an evening of wine and chick flicks as it is for hosting chic after-dinner drinks.
darla-powell-interiors_miami-fl_how-we-designed-a-stunning-and-sophisticated-home-from-afar_blog-post_3d-model_living-room-with-view-into-rest-of-homeThe view from the same sofa into the rest of the home is equally polished yet lively. The blue accent chair paired with the colorful artwork add freshness... and a place to soak up the view outside, martini in hand!
darla-powell-interiors_miami-fl_how-we-designed-a-stunning-and-sophisticated-home-from-afar_blog-post_3d-model_dining-roomAh, I just love the natural light in this home! With the very minimal and clean-lined architectural details in the dining room, we suggested painting the trim and mirror frame a charcoal for contrast, drama, and creating a beautiful frame for the view.

We also knew modern furniture would fit right in. We chose pieces in warm woods to keep the space approachable, not cold, and added more vibrant artwork for color and life. Say hello to an elegant, inviting dinner for two... or a party of six!
darla-powell-interiors_miami-fl_how-we-designed-a-stunning-and-sophisticated-home-from-afar_blog-post_3d-model_home-office-with-accent-wallWhich brings us to... the home office. As a space where energy and focus is needed, we knew we had room to get even more creative. All of the brass fixtures in this office bring a professional air to the space, while the floral accent wall really livens things up! Orange (known for inspiring energy) and blue (calming) create the perfect blend of lively yet serious.

Raise your hand if you'd love to #wfh in here? Me, too!

The Joyful Ending

When we presented the final design to Melissa, she was thrilled! She had no idea the possibilities she could achieve in her new home, and having 3D renderings to see the final result has given her the confidence to bring the home to life on her own.

Her favorite design element was our suggestion to paint out the dining room and office French doors, as well as the decorative trim around the dining room mirror, in a deep charcoal gray. Sometimes, it is those small details that create big attention-grabbing moments in a home. Dontcha think?!

From our perspective, Melissa was a dream to work with, and she may have just set the tone for a new branch of our business. While it was a brand new concept to us, we LOVED the “design from a distance” approach, and would do it again in a heartbeat!

So, wherever you are in the world, no matter the time zone, latitude, or longitude you’re reading this from... if you’re feeling inspired and would love our team to create a personalized design just for you, give us a call (or maybe email us, if it’s the middle of the night in Florida)!

When designing long-distance, our methods may be creative and a bit unconventional, but we guarantee your results will be jaw-dropping, breathtaking, and maybe even elicit a few tears of joy. 

Ready to get started?! Let’s do this thing.


P.s. Furnishing a home? Don’t forget to download our guide to budgeting your home furnishings below. Whether you’re just down the block from us, or half a world away, this guide is a helpful (and essential) part of any design process. ;)