Houzz is a wonderful tool for Architects and homeowners who are thinking about building a new or remodeled home. One can find pretty much anything one’s heart desires and place it into an “idea book” for future reference. The photographs exemplify the owner’s tastes and dreams. Owners use their idea books as a source of items they would like in their homes. So what is wrong with this?

imagesActually nothing is wrong with making a file of things you like. The problem is how the “idea book” is used. Owners typically do not have experience with the process of designing a house. Houzz gives the owners the impression that design is the collage of different ideas into a structure. It is like grocery shopping: buy the items and serve them together for dinner. An architect uses the same process as a great chef. Creative thought is initially used in planning what type of meal will be created. What is the context of the meal? Will it be a quiet meal for two or a vibrant family gathering? What are the tastes and likes of the clients? What wine will be served with the meal? After many questions are asked and answered, the chef will start planning the menu. Much later ingredients will be selected, cooked and served.

Houzz can be helpful in asking the questions.

  • What is it about this living room that you like and dislike?
  • Why do you think that it is appealing?
  • How would a room like this one be incorporated into your lifestyle?
  • How does it relate to the house you would like to build?
  • How do you feel about this picture of a similar room? How are they the same or different?

With a great deal of information in hand, the architect can start planning the conceptual feel and function of the house. For example, the Houzz photographs that the clients selected show a living room open to the outdoors with flooding morning light. This information is very helpful in selecting a location for the living room on the floor plan.

Much later on in the design process when the architect is designing the specifics of the project, the idea book should be revisited to talk about the likes and dislikes of the details depicted. With a known budget it is important that the feel and function of the items is of concern and not the replication of something from a different time and place that may not be in budget.

In conclusion, Houzz can be a very helpful design tool if used in the right way. If an idea book is used as a catalog of “must have” items, then the design process will be circumvented and a cohesive design impossible to achieve.