August 22, 2013 | by Staff reports
Using social media to aid in the design process

By JOSH BAKER

LuxeSource, kitchen, real estate, design, gay news, Washington Blade

LuxeSource.com is a helpful resource for homeowners as they set out down the design path. (Photo courtesy of Luxesource.com)

Is a kitchen remodel in your near future? Are you planning a master suite addition? Whether you want to renovate or you’re just looking to freshen up your living room with some new furnishings, there are some great online tools available to help with the design process.

Looking for Inspiration? If you’re looking for something above and beyond just tearing out magazine pages to show to your design team, you may want to check out Pinterest. This site, which also is available as a mobile app, allows you to collect, organize and share visual bookmarks of all the things that interest you. You can browse categories such as ‘Home Decor’, ‘Architecture’, and ‘Gardening’ and then “pin” the images you like to your very own “pinboard.” You can also browse and follow the boards of other pinners who have similar interests. 

Beyond Pretty Pictures. If you want more than just pretty pictures, look no further than Houzz, the leading online platform for home remodeling and design. Houzz was launched in 2009 by Adi Tatarko and Alon Cohen, a couple that purchased a 1950s home to renovate but found it difficult to communicate their vision and ideas to an architect. Embracing their tech-savvy, Silicon Valley roots, they decided to create an online platform to showcase the work of design and construction professionals. Fast-forward four years, and now Houzz is both a website and mobile app that connects millions of homeowners, home design enthusiasts, and home improvement professionals all in one interactive place.

Relatively new to the Washington, D.C. area, homeowners in search of a local pro can browse company profiles to find photos by and reviews for anything from design-build firms, to landscape architects, to lighting specialists. Another cool feature is the “Discussion” section, which enables you to post any design dilemmas you may be encountering, and receive feedback and suggestions from other Houzz users. You can also post before and after pictures to show off your transformation.

Houzz has its fair share of inspirational pictures in a searchable database of more than 1 million home design photos. But don’t worry, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, you can filter by room, style and geographic location. Also, if you have questions about specific photos, such as paint color or materials used, it is easy to ask the photos’ owners who are encouraged to respond in a timely manner. And for the photos and ideas you love, you can save and organize them in an online “Ideabook,” which allows you to add notes and share with others. It’s a great way to visually communicate what you’re looking for and collaborate with members of your design team. For example, you may be ready to take the next step in finishing a basement, but you’re unsure of the exact layout you’d like or what flooring to use. Creating an Ideabook of lower levels that appeal to you should help to streamline the design process.

Your Source for Luxury. LuxeSource.com, the online site for Luxe Interiors + Design magazine, is another helpful resource for homeowners as they set out down the design path. Like Houzz, you can search through photos of majestic backyards and opulent dining rooms to help spur your design vision. To customize your search, you can filter by style, space or color to suite your preferences. Photos that catch your eye can be added to your “LookBook” for future reference. If you’re looking for a home-related professional, check out the Luxe Resource section. There you can find profiles of design build remodelers, interior designers and other specialists throughout the Greater Washington area.

While these sites and apps are perfect for gathering ideas and inspiration if you are planning a renovation or remodel, it’s best to involve a design-build professional as soon as possible to ensure the work is feasible and within your budget. Even if don’t have any design projects on the horizon, there’s nothing wrong with a little “window shopping” in the meantime.

Josh Baker is the founder and co-chairman of BOWA, an award-winning design and construction company specializing in luxury renovations, remodels and additions in the greater Washington, D.C. area. BOWA has more than 25 years of experience and has been honored with 160 local and national awards. For more information visit bowa.com or call 703-734-9050.

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