Many social media sites have taken the DIY world by storm. There are more interior design resources on the Internet than I care to even mention, and many self-proclaimed “interior designers” and “decorators” that don’t have an education to back their titles offering bad advice galore. But that’s a post for another day.
There is a place however for homeowners and architects to collaborate in a clever, simple and productive manner that can facilitate good communication and aid in achieving a successful project. I’ve found both Pinterest and Houzz to be super helpful in this regard when helping clients visualize a concept. We all know that a picture is worth a thousand words. The sooner I feel like I can get a handle on the style a client likes, and they can visualize what I’m proposing, the better we keep the project momentum moving forward.
So how best to use these tools? First, clients should set up a (free) account which requires only an email address. You can start at www.Pinterest.com and www.houzz.com from a computer. Or, you can download the app to a mobile device. There is a simple difference between the two: Houzz is used ONLY for residential images and tends to attract high end, well crafted work from qualified designers and contractors. Pinterest is a catch-all for anything and anyone to upload photos from florists to hairstylists to cat enthusiasts.
I prefer to use Houzz with clients because it helps focus on (mostly) beautiful images and you can easily search by room. For example, a search for “white cabinet kitchen” will yields hundreds of images. The other good thing about Houzz is that businesses can only upload images of their own projects. This filters out a lot of junk DIY stuff. On Houzz, users then create “ideabooks” that serve as a home base for ideas. I like to make ideabooks with clients by room. For example, if I’m working with the Smith family I make an ideabook called “Smith Bathroom ideas” or “Smith Kitchen ideas”. This helps keep images organized by purpose. Each image is credited back to the designer or builder of that project.
Pinterest is a similar concept in that you create “boards” as a home base for images. Users can “pin” or attach any photo from the web to their board. Using Pinterest has its pros and cons. On the positive side, the pool of images to choose from is vast. If its on the web, you can pin it. I use it for pinning ideas for furniture, colors, finishes, appliances, lighting fixtures, you name it. On the negative side, its a lot more work to sift through the overwhelming images and many are not high quality. But its still a very useful tool for not only sharing ideas with clients but for a visual system of organizing specific selections for a job. I used it just today to check a light fixture I had picked for a project last year. (“what was that light again?”) Rather than sifting through the archive database on my computer to pull up an old fixture schedule, I simply went to my Pinterest page, saw the job name and visually recognized the light in about 5 seconds with a link to the manufacturer. Homeowners can use it the same way. When a friend asks what paint color you used in your new Master Bath, you probably wont remember. But if you have a saved board for the “Master Bath Renovation” on your phone you could pull it up in about 5 seconds. Think of it as a visual filing cabinet.
The other nice thing about these sites? Both offer a privacy feature where your board or ideabook can be made “private” so no one but you and your architect can see your comments and selections. I find this a must have for many clients who value their privacy and don’t need the whole world or other active clients to view their selections.
Interested in seeing some Ideabooks and boards I’ve got going?
So go get comfortable, grab a glass of wine and start a board today! Happy pinning!