Need design inspiration? Look online

Special to the Packet and GazetteOctober 29, 2012 

When starting a design project, whether it is a new house or a new sofa, where do you start to look for inspiration? Fall is one of the peak times for home tours throughout the Lowcountry. Experiencing spaces and seeing how people have decorated is always fun and helpful to glean ideas for your own house. Shelter magazines and books come in all varieties from the modern Dwell to Traditional Home and everything in between. You could almost spend your entire project budget on tours, books and magazines.

There is a great new resource on the Internet and as an app for your smartphone, www.Houzz.com. It was started in 2009 by Adi Tatarko and her husband Alon Cohen when they were having difficulty communicating their desires with their architect on a major remodel of a 1950s house. Cohen was a technology director at eBay and decided that an online searchable database would help solve their communication problem. Houzz.com was born and has grown to be the go-to place for home design ideas.

There are almost 790,000 photographs on the site uploaded by architects, interior designers, landscape architects, contractors and photographers. The photographs are searchable by style, location, room type, and profession. Photos that you want to keep for reference can be added to a personal "ideabook." You can write comments for each photo about what you like and then share the ideabook with your design professional.

Houzz has a cadre of professionals writing articles that include house tours, trends, building styles and design solutions for particular problems. There are product reviews and the opportunity to ask the community for help with design issues.

J.P. Gregory found Houzz.com to be a great and very useful tool.

"We are starting the process of building a home, and the ideabooks have been invaluable; from communicating what we want to our architect, to picking colors and finishes with the designer. I am sure we will use this tool through the completion of our project."

Houzz user, Cheri Callaghan commented, "Browsing the Web is so frustrating. (The Houzz.com) app solves that problem with the search feature, links to professionals and products. The ability to save photos to my ideabooks has been so helpful in helping me recognize my own style and make decisions."

It is eye opening for design professionals to discover the top concerns of potential clients. The photograph that has been added to the most ideabooks, 106,590, is a closet that was retro-fitted as a pantry. The third most popular is also a pantry. Obviously, storage is a big deal.

Whether you are starting a design project or want to get lost in some beautiful house photographs check out www.houzz.com.

Jane Frederick is an architect and co-owner of Frederick + Frederick Architects in Beaufort.

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