INSIDE STORY: British digital entrepreneur Jonathan Holmes is taking an online fashion approach to home interiors, treating sofas, lamps and sun loungers as covetable items that can be had at the touch of an app, or a mouse click.
His burgeoning web site, Luxdeco.com, aims to take the pain out of home decorating — an often time-consuming, costly and frustrating task for those without an eye for interiors, a passion for furniture, or professional help.
He’s even torn a page out of the online fashion handbook, publishing an in-house print magazine — circulation 40,000 — and a corresponding shoppable app. The Style Guide also has lifestyle content, including recipes.
Even the home furnishings names that the site stocks have a fashion ring to them: Calvin Klein, Agent Provocateur, Christian Lacroix, Versace and Missoni. Newcomers will include Kate Spade New York lighting, La Perla bedding and Shanghai Tang china and glassware.
The site carries more than 250 brands and 10,000 products, and ships to more than 35 countries, although most sales are in the U.K. It draws about 150,000 visitors per month.
Prices range from a Mulberry candle for 20 pounds, or $26, to 24,000 pounds, or $31,000, for a Davidson games table. In addition to furniture, the site sells lighting, outdoor pieces, gifts and bedding.
There is personal shopping and a bespoke furniture and upholstery service. The site has a team of in-house designers and all delivery is complimentary.
While LuxDeco isn’t the only site to offer multibrand home furnishings online, its ambition is to become a one-stop shop for classic, luxury interiors and appeal to an affluent audience worldwide. Its style is classic contemporary, so it’s not for bohemian types or mid-century modern enthusiasts.
“We offer the whole package and there are no extremes — it’s not super-modern and it’s not super-country,” Holmes said.
Growth has been 100 percent year-on-year since the site launched in late 2012 backed by angel investors. It has seen total sales of four million pounds, or $5.2 million, since the launch.
Interior design professionals and architects account for 15 percent of total revenue. The site is full-price, and there is no discounting except in sale periods. Much of the merchandise on offer is not available on the high street.
It was clearly the site that Holmes was meant to create.
The son of an interior designer, Holmes had already cofounded an online directory for events in the U.K., which he sold in 2001 before opening his own digital consultancy.
Despite his mother being in the design business, Holmes was still frustrated when he tried to source items for his own home. “The journey was disconnected and fragmented — how would you go about finding amazing brands? Where does the process begin?” Holmes said.
So he did what any good digital entrepreneur would do, and tested the market, building e-commerce functionality into the website of his mother’s interior design business. Together, he and his mother discovered that customers had no problem buying high-end pieces online, even during a recession. His mother is now interiors director of Luxdeco.com.
Like online fashion entrepreneurs, he also realized it was critical to have the right creative content on the site to tempt customers from discovery to purchase.
The site holds a core amount of stock in London, and orders from suppliers on demand.
Holmes said future opportunities are outside the U.K., and he is currently looking for new investment with the aim of gaining exposure and building a global business.