If you plan to remodel your home or build a new one in the next few years, do yourself – and your designer – a favor. Create a free account on www.houzz.com and use it to gather your thoughts.
Before you can begin to explain to a designer (or even a spouse) what you want from your new space, you must sort it out in your own mind. That requires both inspiration and structure. You’re in luck: Houzz is high on both. Most importantly, it lets you communicate largely through themed photos rather than words. Think Pinterest for home design. The “I know what I like when I see it” crowd will love this. Forget about stretching for the right adjective. Just show me. After downloading the mobile app, you can even use Houzz on the go from your phone or tablet.
Show me, don’t tell me
Houzz enables you to browse gorgeous home design photos by room or subject or to search by keyword (ex. universal design). When you see something you like, simply click to add the image to your own ideabook with a little comment about what struck your eye. For example “practical mudroom details” or “beautiful countertop” or “tall windows let in lots of natural light.”
Building an ideabook is a dynamic process that evolves over time, sometimes years. Approach it like a tournament fisherman, culling lesser ideas as you land better ones. It’s a good idea for couples to keep separate ideabooks that illustrate each person’s desires. This helps to identify and resolve conflicts.
At this point, don’t worry about which designers or contractors post photos you like. With more than 300,000 professional Houzz profiles, most will be from outside your area. But local professionals should be able to replicate what you show them.
Choose a Project Partner
When you are ready to chose a project partner to work with, use Houzz to search for professionals within 10, 25, 50 or 100 miles of your home. Note which ones have a lot of reviews and stars. Read their replies to comments and questions to judge how they communicate. Then check out their profiles, project photos and ideabooks to get a feel for their work. Finally, click the links to visit their websites.
After you select a company to work with, use your Houzz ideabooks to share with your project designer what you like with the photos and comments you assembled along the way. Caution: things showcased on Houzz can be pricey. Although you like something, it may not fit your budget.
Collaborate with your designer
Many project designers use collaborative Houzz ideabooks with their clients to share ideas online. If yours uses this approach both of you can contribute images to a shared ideabook and add comments at any hour of the day.
Don’t worry. You can password protect your shared ideabook so only you and your designer see the contents. And if you are afraid you will accidentally wipe out your designer’s recommendations, those files can be set as read-only.
Don’t Forget the Review
Houzz is all about sharing. It starts with photos, ideas and comments and culminates in reviews. After you hire a designer, architect, remodeler or homebuilder or purchase buildings materials, fixtures and furnishings, let fellow Houzz members know what you think. Contractors and products with many positive reviews usually are worth consideration.
And, for bragging rights, encourage your builder to post professional photos of your project on their Houzz accounts. Then share it with your friends on Facebook. If they provide the media, the least you can do is to be social.