One of the toughest things for a homeowner embarking on a home remodeling is to envision the finished job. It’s even tougher is to play the role of designer. After all, that’s probably not your strength, and there are thousands of questions to answer. What kind of molding is right? Which lighting system? What type of flooring? Window treatment? Cabinetry style? It’s enough to freeze you in your tracks and opt to do nothing at all! Stairs alone can present innumerable options: boxed, open, spiral or circular, L-shaped and U-shaped – and that’s before you get to railings and balustrades.
You’ve heard it said a thousand times, but it bears repeating: A picture is worth a thousand words. In the case of a remodeling, a picture may be worth 10,000 words. So then, what’s the value of one million pictures?
One of the fastest growing web sites in the world, called houzz.com, delivers just that. After just a few years, it ranks number 337 in the U.S. for traffic. Check it out – it couldn’t be simpler to use. Just type the sort of project your interested in – kitchen, baths, attics, family rooms -- in the search box. You can start searching from inspiration immediately - no need to register or agree to anything. Thousands of terrific, carefully screened images uploaded by designers and builders will instantly appear. Among them, you will find valuable ideas for lighting, room layout, storage, décor, cabinetry, fireplaces, and much more.
Type in “kitchens” and you’ll get over 300,000 quality images. For a more targeted search, such as compact kitchens islands, just add a “+” sign before each search word. For example, “+compact +kitchen” (photo below) will bring up over 2,000 photos that show clever ideas for getting more kitchen from less space. Search for “+kitchen +molding” nets you more than 13,000 images of molding ideas. Drill down and you’ll even find nearly 7,000 photos that show kitchen vents!
The site will allow you to search for more than pretty pictures, too. You can change the search to reveal remodeling products, discussions, and design professionals. You can also register with the site to create your own idea book and start your own discussion about design dilemmas you’re facing in your own project. Want to carry the houzz library in your pocket? You got it. Just download Houzz’ Interior Design Ideas app.
Pinterest.com is another wildly popular site – with even more traffic than houzz.com. It’s a great way to organize all of the ideas that need to come together for a successful home project, whether it is a remodeling or new construction. It’s especially helpful for creating wish lists of products you’ll need. And because it’s an online scrapbook, you can share your ideas with friends, family, designer, or contractor to get fast feedback.
Etsy.com, with nearly as much traffic as pinterest.com, offers handmade and vintage products from designers around the world. My wife and I have spent hours on it looking for a dining room chandelier – and found some exquisite, rewired fixture made in the same era as our 1918 coop. The selection is amazing and the prices are reasonable compared to buying new lighting. Best of all, you end up with a fixture that’s often unique. Etsy home-related offerings also include cabinetry, kitchen accessories, furniture, and garden planters, among others. A search for a kitchen island came up with 895 items for sale. Don’t wait long, however, to buy. We’ve seen our favorites disappear from the listings quickly.
Have a favorite site that you use for ideas and products?
Share it with us in the Comments section below.