App review: HOUZZ

Emma Jones
App review: HOUZZ

You’ve got the finance in place and now you’re looking for renovation inspiration. Gathering renovation and design ideas can be a tough and time consuming process. The weekends can get gobbled up with getting around kitchen and bathroom showrooms, looking at fabrics, carpets, drapes, tiles, lights ……. but there are online tools and apps that can bring all that to you.

SEE ALSO: Doing DIY? These apps may help

Recently one of our techies at Westpac, Emma Jones, did a house renovation and used HOUZZ to help. Here, she reviews the app and spells out some pros and cons.

HOUZZ , the “Wikipedia of Home Design”

If you’ve undertaken even the smallest home renovation in the past few years, you are likely to have stumbled upon the website ‘Houzz’, a site dedicated to cataloguing home and garden design, which is also available as an app for both Android and IOS.

If you haven’t discovered Houzz yet, then it‘s worth checking out. Houzz has an unsurpassed album of home and garden design photos, articles and how-to guides.

AppReviewHouzz

Virtually every possible home renovation or design idea can be found on Houzz, and to prove this point I searched on “Cat themed House”(which now seems a cliché given I’m a single woman living alone), and the search returned just that: a US$35,000 cat-friendly renovation.  

When fully renovating my1980’s townhouse, Houzz became my design bible that I scoured nightly. I spent more time searching kitchen bench top and bathroom tile designs than I did stalking high school boyfriends on Facebook or watching cat videos on YouTube.

Design and creativity are not my strong suit, so when I embarked on my renovation I didn’t know where to start. So like all good researchers I Googled and found Houzz.

I began by searching for renovations on 1980’s era properties to help formulate the theme for my 80’s eyesore, and was thrilled to find hundreds of options, ranging from elaborate to modest. That’s the beauty of Houzz, there is something for every budget and every size.  If your kitchen is the size of a suitcase, you can bet there will be ideas galore on how to utilise the space, and on a shoestring. Likewise if you’re fantasising about being Bill Gates’ second wife or Oprah’s toy boy, then there are a multitude of grandiose designs to pour over, with wardrobes the size of tennis courts and 24 carat gold, diamond encrusted cat doors.

As with any site worth its salt these days, it has incorporated the best of social media and the ability to create and personalise your own account, enabling you to scrapbook photos, ideas and articles, while interacting with other like-minded design enthusiasts and professionals. Better still, unlike many social media sites, you aren’t likely to find anyone trolling on Houzz, making disparaging remarks about your taste in cantilevered decks (of which there are currently 158,504 photos).

The site is designed as a showcase for design professionals, and equally a forum for design amateurs to share and discuss ideas. It’s free to download and to sign up to get full access, without the usual ‘premium user only’ benefits.

SEE ALSO: Doing DIY? These apps may help

Pros

  • Hundreds of thousands of home and garden design photos.

  • Great articles and how-to guides. You can bet if you’re struggling with a design or renovation, then someone has already tackled the issue in an article.

  • Scrapbooking capability, allowing you to save images to folders you define.

  • Caters for all tastes, budgets and sizes.

  • Interactive, allowing you to comment and engage with other enthusiasts and professionals.

  • Ability to shop and compare prices on products seen in the photos.

  • Directory of design professionals, with Houzz user reviews, so you don’t have to rely on their own partial testimonials page.

  • Optional weekly emails with interesting and visually exciting home articles.

  • The ‘find a pro’ section where you can access New Zealand designers and suppliers.

Cons

  • US Centric. Many home professionals on there are US based, and the photos are largely from US homes. Products and materials may not be accessible in NZ, and the style is often very different to NZ home design trends, i.e. ‘shabby chic’ and ‘country’, while New Zealand design tends to be more contemporary.

  • Too many photos and ideas. It’s easy to become overwhelmed and attempt to capture them all in your renovation, which could result in a Mediterranean blue themed bathroom, with a Swedish hot-tub surrounded by faux forest and a Japanese Zen shower room, and of course a miniature replica for the cats.

Rating: 9/10

I wouldn’t have known where to begin my home renovation without the help of Houzz – it not only gave me ideas, but also stopped me making mistakes that other Houzz users had already made. There is no other site that has such a large catalogue of design photos and articles, it really is the Wikipedia of Home Design.

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