A Digital Solution to Decorating Dilemmas

Even the most creative do it yourself types will admit decorating is tough work. All the choices available out there can be overwhelming and make it clear why interior designers get paid to do the job. HGTV shows or Better Homes and Gardens offer plenty of inspiration, but putting it all together to form a clear decorating scheme specific to your home is another thing. Houzz.com (a clever combination of the words “house” and “buzz”) helps solve the decorating dilemma.

Houzz is available as a website, iPhone app, and iPad app.  One reviewer suggested the apps are more user-friendly than the actual website simply because the website offers such a wealth of information it can start to feel overwhelming. But, no matter which avenue you pursue, it can be a great resource.

Depending on how you use it, Houzz can work a lot like Pinterest. Just like the idea and photo sharing social network, you can save images and ideas for later reference. You can also follow other dreamers and decorators for more ideas.  Similar ot Pinterest, you can also easily share photos with friends or family on Facebook, Twitter, or via email. It’s a great feature for getting feedback or even gift giving ideas. Unlike Pinterest, however, Houzz does give you the option of keeping your ideas and comments private.

Following decorating firms’ activities is a great way to stay up to date on the latest trends.  It’s also a great way to engage the latest trends and draw on others’ experiences by reading or adding questions and comments to discussions about product designs, availability, and design tips. Designers are inclined to offer solid advice because they are hoping to build their client base.

After you set up your account, you start saving images to Ideabooks. After you save 10 images to an Ideabook, Houzz starts making recommendations of similar images based on algorithms that determine what might be in line with your tastes and preferences.

One neat feature on the website and the apps are the green tags that hang from some items in pictures of different rooms. On the iPhone or iPad, the tags actually swing as if hanging in a real store when the device moves. The tags indicate a professional has marked the item and clicking on the tag reveals information like where to purchase the item and how much it costs. Another neat and new feature is the Houzz Lightbox, which will start a slide-show for scrolling through images faster.

One drawback to the site is that some of the items that catch your fancy may not be available to the public. In other words, you may have to be in the design trade to buy them. But, if you really like an item and find it either out of your price range or just completely unavailable, pay attention to the discussions. You can often get some great advice- like where to buy a similar item much cheaper- from other decorators or savvy shoppers.

If you’re still not confident about tackling decorating, Houzz is also a great resource for finding a decorator in your area. Each photo of a room includes information about the designer. Since you can filter by location, this can be a great way to determine which local decorator best matches your style. Or, try the site’s Professionals section, which lists over 1 million suppliers, remodelers, and design professionals for hire that can also be filtered by location or category.

Posted in Home Ownership.

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