Houzz.com is a website that started out with architects and interior designers sharing their portfolios online in a searchable database that users could save to albums called Ideabooks. It has now expanded to include a wide array of home improvement professionals and vendors as well as the products you need to complete those projects, articles, forums, and more. It can be a little overwhelming for the newly initiated homeowner looking to find inspiration for their remodeling or decorating project. This Houzz Ideabooks tutorial will walk you step-by-step through the process of creating an Ideabook, sharing it with your interior designer, adding photos, and commenting on the photos.
First, why should you use Houzz instead of Pinterest when gathering inspiration images? It’s not really an either/or question – Pinterest has tons of interior design inspiration. But, Houzz was created with homeowners and designers specifically in mind while Pinterest can be a rabbit hole of recipes, outfits, and all kinds of things that have nothing to do with your design project. In my experience, it’s a lot easier to find high-quality photos of interiors on Houzz. The photos are uploaded by the designer herself, so when you click on them, you will find links to more images of the same project. There might even be details listed with the photo about the items used, the paint colors, and the vendors. Houzz also has a robust design-specific search engine that lets you filter by style, size, budget, color, and more.
Whenever I start a new project with a client, I ask her (or him) to setup a Houzz Ideabook or Ideabooks, add photos to it of interiors that they like, and comment on those photos with what specifically appealed to them. These Ideabooks are incredibly helpful for me in deciphering my client’s style as well as keeping a visual log of the different elements that they want to include. But, it’s not always obvious to a client who has never visited the site on how to get started, so I created this easy tutorial. Let’s get started!
Create a Houzz Profile
If you don’t already have a Houzz.com profile, it’s very easy to create one. Once you go to the website, click on the Sign In button in the top right corner. You can create a specific user id and password or login with your Facebook or Google account.
Create a separate Ideabook for each major area of your project
Once you create a Houzz profile, you can start adding Ideabooks to your profile and saving photos to those Ideabooks. Ideabooks are similar to Pinterest boards.
From the Houzz homepage, click on Your Houzz in the top right corner of the window and select Your Ideabooks from the drop-down menu.
Click on the big plus sign to create a new Ideabook.
Give your Ideabook a name. If you are starting a large project like a full house remodel or building a new home, you might want to create several Ideabooks to keep your photos organized. In that case, you might call them something like: “New House – Exterior”, “New House – Overall Style”, “New House – Kitchen”, etc.
If you are currently planning a single room, you can keep it simple with a name like “My Kitchen Remodel.” You can also choose to organize a small project with multiple Ideabooks like “My Kitchen Remodel – Cabinets”, “My Kitchen Remodel – Lighting,” etc, but that could also be overkill if you only save a few photos to each.
Make sure to add a description for your Ideabook so your designer knows what the photos in this particular album are for. Then, click on the radio button to make the Ideabook private. Finally, click on the green Create button.
By setting your Ideabooks to private, you ensure that your comments will remain private as well.
Share the Ideabook with Your Designer
Once you click that green Create button, you will be prompted to share your Ideabook. First, enter the email address of your designer (it’s also a great idea to share with your partner). If the designer already has a Houzz profile, you may see their profile pop up automatically. If you don’t, just finish typing – it’s totally ok. Then click the Add button.
Once you click the Add button, you will see your designer’s email address listed below. Click the drop-down next to their email address and make sure it is set to Can Edit. Now she can add photos and comment on the photos you have added as well. You can add as many people as you like at once. When you are finished, click the green Share button.
If you look at the Ideabooks section of your profile page, you will see your new Ideabook listed. It will probably be gray since you haven’t added any photos to it yet. Remember you can access all of your Ideabooks from any page on Houzz by clicking Your Houzz in the top right corner.
Add photos from Houzz
Click on your new Ideabook to open it up. Now for the fun part! You can search Houzz for photos to add to your Ideabooks using the search bar at the top of the site. You can also click on the Photos icon at the bottom of your Ideabook.
Tip: If you want to add additional people to your Ideabook, you can click on the Invite button next to your profile photo on the Ideabook page.
Start scrolling through the photos in the Houzz feed. When you see one with a feature or detail that you like, hover over the photo. You will see two buttons pop up at the bottom – Save and Email. Click on the Save button.
A white box will pop up. Select the appropriate Ideabook from the drop-down menu. Then add your comments in the text box in the middle. Last, click on the green Save to Ideabook button.
You might notice an Upload File button on the right side of the Ideabook. This button is for uploading photos to your Ideabook from your computer, but they should only be photos that you own or took yourself. It is against Houzz’s policy to upload photos without permission.
Commenting on Photos Effectively
You can add comments to each photo as you save them to your Ideabook. Or you can edit your comments from the Ideabook page by clicking on the comment below the photos.
The key to using Houzz Ideabooks for effectively communicating with your interior designer is the comments. Without your comments, your designer has no way of knowing why you saved that photo. Did you like the wall color? The overall vibe? Or just the light fixture?
Comments are especially important if have saved a bunch of photos that have no obvious correlation to one another. You may have told your designer that you wanted a traditional kitchen and then saved several photos of kitchens with flat style doors, no moldings, and minimal detailing because you liked their color or the layout, but your designer has no way of knowing that unless you tell her in the comments.
Remember when we made your Ideabook private? The reason we want to keep our Ideabooks private is so that our comments remain private as well. Sometimes it can be just as helpful (if not more helpful!) for you to tell your designer what you dislike about a room or style. But, you want to make sure that those types of comments remain between yourself and your designer so that you don’t hurt anyone’s feelings.
Let’s say that you saved this photo, which is from my master bathroom remodel, to your Ideabook.
You might comment something like: “Love the contrast of the dark cabinetry with the white countertops and the shape of the mirrors. Would prefer a different style for the sconces. Not wild about brass hardware.”
Now I know that you like strong contrast, dark cabinet, white or light colored countertops and modern geometric shapes. I also know to look for a different style for the light fixtures and not to specify brass hardware. That’s incredibly helpful. Remember, it’s important to be specific as possible.
If you find a photo you like but aren’t sure why, just say so. The reason will probably become apparent to your designer if you save many other photos with more specific comments.
Review with your interior designer.
Once my clients have added a good number of photos to the Ideabook for their project (at least fifteen to twenty is ideal), I go through each photo and study it along with their comments while making notes. During our next meeting, I like to review those photos with the client and discuss the different aspects of them, along with any common themes that I noticed. This review makes sure that we are on the same page and that I didn’t misinterpret any of their comments or reasons for saving the photos.
Here is a screenshot of one of my clients’ Ideabooks for their kitchen remodel. They really embraced using Houzz as a communication tool.
First, the wife saved photos that she liked with her comments. Then the husband took his turn. After he had made his contributions, they commented on each other’s photos and initialed their comments. They put a ton of thought into what they liked or disliked about each photo, and it made my job incredibly easy. A designer’s dream come true!
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial on how to use Houzz Ideabooks to communicate effectively with your interior designer. Houzz is an amazing resource, and if you use it properly, it can be a valuable asset in making sure you get the results you want for your interior design project.