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From the Architect's Desk



In From the Architect's Desk

By lthomas

How best to use Houzz

On 01, Dec 2016 | In From the Architect's Desk | By lthomas

There was a time when a client would come for a design meeting with a tote bag absolutely overflowing with folders full of images ripped from home style design magazines to share with me.

I would often suggest, as an alternative to the predictable chaos that happened when things became shuffled, an accordion file with each section labeled with tags such as, “Kitchen, Mudroom, Master Suite, Children’s Bedrooms, Interior Details, Exterior Details, Garden, Pool.” Then each image could have its place and, most importantly, a place to be returned after sharing.

Now websites such as Houzz are becoming a big —a HUGE- home style and design resource, full of so many images that my head spins. Much of this is good; I love to see what a client is trying to explain. Then again, for many, it is just too much. I actually have a client who admits to being a Houzz junkie. When insomnia strikes, he is up browsing Houzz in the wee hours.


So, what is the best way to use this vast resource?

  • Remember the accordion file concept. Select discrete visual topics for your collection.
  • Share your “ideabook” with your Architect so we can both discuss what you like (and, just as importantly, dislike) about an image.
  • Tell me what exactly in the image is appealing or not. Color, material, shape, style, feel. Be as specific as you can. Write notes for each image. Remember that in any image there may be several things on which to focus. I call these “glimpses.”
  • Be a self-curator. Just as a museum may have several exhibits that you like, they are not all jumbled together. Really look at each image—is it different than another, or the same with a slight variation? Try to stay focused and weed out duplicates and images that do not communicate well. Revisit your images once again before sharing them and then let your design professionals help with the final cut.
  • Most importantly, be willing to let something go if it just doesn’t work with the whole design. Trust your design team – architect, interior designer, landscape architect – to do the job you hired them to do.


This online resource is really a wonderful advancement. I too love to find the exact image to illustrate an idea without digging through old magazines with a million or so post-it notes. I rejoice in finding a set of nearly perfect “glimpses” from several projects that really hit the mark with an idea that I am trying to convey. Yet I know not to just stick it all together. That might create a Mr.Potato Head house! Trust me here.