Tag Archives: 3D Rendering

International Builders Show Spotlight

 

VEGAS, BABY!  THE 2014 INTERNATIONAL BUILDERS SHOW

Builders-Show-signThis year’s International Builders Show (IBS) in Las Vegas wrapped up last week. Primarily targeting building industry professionals, IBS 2014 was co-located for the first time this year with the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS), offering a combined 1,700 exhibitors for an eye-popping, idea-expanding experience for more than 75,000 attendees from across the globe. The International Window Coverings Expo was also located on another floor of the same conference center.

Here’s why you care: with its hot trends, new products, and futuristic concepts, the IBS can give you fantastic insight and inspiration for your next project. This is true whether you’re a building industry professional (designers, architects, builders, 3D renderers, K&B professionals, etc.) or a regular person dreaming about what your current home space can accomplish… or how your next dream shelter will look and function.

Concepts Made Real

The New American Home is a concept home built especially for the show in a Las Vegas development. Reminiscent of the contemporary elevations so beautifully crafted in Frank Lloyd Wright’s prairie home architectural style, the New American Home delivers a modern interpretation of the classic ranch, set in a contemporary style home with stunning desert view. Sleek lines softened with natural materials and a layout that seamlessly blends the indoors and out, this home boasts functionality and design meant for today’s multigenerational family and forward-thinking lifestyle.

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The New American Home 2014

What’s exceptionally buzz-worthy about the home is its commitment to sustainability, universal design (an elegant term for aging in place), and contemporary styling. Take a virtual tour by clicking here.

Hot New Trends & Products

International-Builders-Show-exhibitor-floorWhere to begin? With 1,700 exhibitors and numerous educational sessions, new trends and products were evident everywhere. Businesses of all sorts love to do mashups of their favorites so I thought I’d share a few with you:

  • Let’s start with the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) — the host of the show — and their “best of” winners. Categories include the best products in home technology, kitchen and bath, indoor living, outdoor living, window & door, most innovative building, and their coveted “Best in Show.” Get details, winners, and manufacturer links by clicking here.
  • A sustainable product roundup from Green Building & Design Magazine gets excited over products ranging from reflective shingles to zero volatile organic compound (VOC) paint.
  • Here’s what impressed the LA Times.
  • A video from the Wall Street Journal highlights ribbon fireplaces, cabinets made of lighter colored metals, and an all-in-one range with seven (yes, seven!) components including a steam oven, convection oven, and warming drawer.

Products weren’t the only thing trending. There were dozens of educational sessions each day that ranged from feeding designers’ and homeowners’ dreams to down-to-earth practical advice for builders and contractors. Some of the sessions on my show planner included:

  • “Evoking Buyers’ Emotions through Home Design”
  • “Love Living in Your Kitchen”
  • “Design Trends for 2014 & Beyond”
  • “Survey Says: Home Trends & Buyer Preferences” (valuable information to keep home improvement investments in step with what’s marketable).
  • “High Performance by Design: 12 Design Tips to Transform Any House Plan”

Creating the Future

Dreamers, builders, designers, and imaginations of all shapes and sizes are welcome at the IBS. Sometimes, it’s neither practical nor possible to build a tangible, real-life, three-dimensional prototype of a product or design idea. This is where 3D renderings take center stage.  If you feed someone like myself the concept, I can create a true-to-life image so your concept comes to life.

I was especially looking forward to visiting one particular exhibit at IBS because one of my 3D renderings was being used as the booth backdrop. Well-known lighting experts Kichler Lighting wanted to show off the emotion, beauty, and ambiance their lighting fixtures and products could create in a home. But how could they demonstrate a house full of lighting style in an exhibit floor booth? Kichler’s solution was to have me create a detailed rendering of a home, cutaway to reveal the interior, showcasing Kichler Lighting both inside and out. They used the image, blown up to 8’ x 8’, as the backdrop for their booth. It was designed to capture attention and instantly help other design professionals visualize Kichler products in their own creative inspirations.

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Cutaway house — custom rendering created by CastleView 3D for Kichler Lighting Co.

Over the years, I’ve helped many other professionals and companies convey their ideas and products for commercial purposes using 3D renderings, including this concept created for a Seattle builder for a home show last year. The result is an innovative, eye-catching, and effective way to capture the attention of the businesses’ prospective customers.  As for the IBS, it was certainly exciting to know that this technology is being embraced as a way to visualize and create the future of tomorrow’s design.

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So, has this information about IBS helped whet your appetite for the show? Are we on for IBS 2015? Next year’s show will be in Las Vegas from January 20–22, 2015, and will once again be partnered with the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show. Show registration opens September 2, 2014. Let’s go to Vegas, baby!

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[NOTE:  Today’s post was intended to be a review of my visit to the 2014 International Builders Show in Las Vegas.   Unfortunately, my trip was cancelled at the last minute due to weather-related difficulties.  This would have been my first visit to the IBS, so of course I’m disappointed that it didn’t happen.  So instead I decided to highlight all the things I was looking forward to.  And now maybe you, like me, can start planning to attend next year’s show.]


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3D renderings from an architect?

IS IT REASONABLE TO EXPECT AN ARCHITECT TO PROVIDE COMPUTER RENDERINGS OF REMODEL IDEAS?

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Recently, I received an inquiry from a reader asking whether it was reasonable to expect architects to provide computer renderings of remodel ideas. My short answer is… yes and no.

Let’s walk through this important question from the perspectives of everyone involved.

The Client

When you’re the client, you are handing over large quantities of your money and time to an individual to perform a professional service for you: design a living space that fits your budget, your lifestyle, and your tastes. Let’s stop for a moment. Notice how the word “you” or “your” was used seven times in the preceding sentence. That’s because YOU are the single most important individual in this project. You are the paying customer.

A reputable architect will pride him or herself on meeting your needs. In order to best understand your vision, a good architect appreciates as much client input as possible. The more precise you can be in describing your lifestyle, tastes, and budget, the better an architect can design a space that meets your needs.

Once your architect develops a design for you, it’s up to them to make sure you thoroughly understand that vision. If you don’t, you must say so. Not everyone has spatial visualization skills and the ability to see a vision from a blueprint or CAD drawing. If a 3D rendering will help you better understand exactly what you can expect for your enormous investment, then it is absolutely reasonable to expect an architect to help you secure a 3D computer rendering of the remodel ideas.  If they don’t provide this service themselves, they should at least be able to point you to someone who can provide it.

It is also reasonable to expect architects to work with 3D renderings that you obtain from a third party if they do not provide the rendering as a part of their own service.

The Architect

To make sure I clearly understood the architects’ perspective on this issue, I asked for opinions in an architecture-related group on LinkedIn that I’m a member of. Answers were fairly polarized, and seemed to depend on whether the architect was using a 3D type of software like Chief Architect to create their plans versus using more traditional 2D CAD or hand-drawn plans.

One architect said, “With software that works in 3D, the 3D views are not a large cost to me. I am able to create most 3D visuals with the click of a button. These are not idealized renderings. They are enough to get the ideas across when 2D can’t. I can and do raise my base fee. I market this as my advanced approach to doing business. And since it is included, I am not as quickly seen by clients as ‘nickel and diming’ them for every little thing (their words, not mine).”

Another designer commented, “I include 3D renderings in all my plans. I don’t see why you can’t. It tells the whole story of the project and basically it is already there for the most part. So why not include them!? As far as prints [blueprints and line elevations], I usually give 2-3 sets with my price and more at their expense.”

Others were open-minded about working with 3D renderings but didn’t feel any responsibility to provide them. This is an honest and fair position, as it is not yet standard practice for architects to use software that creates 3D renderings, so to provide them for clients means an additional cost in time, money, and scope for the architect. The legal interpretation of today’s reasonable ‘Standard of Care’ for architects does not require the use of 3D.

However, 3D technology will continue to have an effect on the architectural industry’s definition of a reasonable ‘standard of care’ for architects when working with clients. As more clients request 3D renderings and gravitate to those architects who do provide them, I believe that there will eventually be a paradigm shift in standard accepted practices. Remember, at one point blueprints and CAD drawings were not considered standard practice, but today all architects factor these into their general rates.  However, it is probably NOT reasonable at this point to expect to receive 3D renderings at no additional cost, since the architect or designer incurs extra costs for creating them.

The 3D Renderer

3D renderings are excellent tools for communicating ideas, as well as a smart project cost containment strategy for both clients and architects. Until the accepted paradigm makes providing 3D renderings a standard architectural practice, clients will often need to take the initiative to ask for them. If you don’t see it spelled out in your contract, the safest bet is to assume it is NOT part of the package the architect is offering.

But if your architect doesn’t do 3D, that doesn’t mean you need to go without renderings! Ask your architect if he or she would consider contracting these out, or ask for recommendations so you can find and work directly with a specialized 3D rendering service provider yourself.  A good 3D renderer should be able to create a 3D model and high-quality renderings from the standard plans or blueprints prepared by any architect.

If the price your architect quotes you for providing 3D renderings seems prohibitively high, even for such a valuable service, you are certainly free to shop around for a better price.  Just remember the old saying, “You get what you pay for.”  As with so many things, the cheapest price isn’t usually the best choice.

blindfold-guyIn my experience, many clients swear that their investment in obtaining 3D renderings is the best money they spent on the whole project, in terms of time and money saved and headaches averted. I’ve never heard anyone say,

“3D renderings? Oh, no thanks—I prefer to be completely surprised when I’m spending thousands of dollars!”

IN SUMMARY

Remember, a good architect will want to create a positive experience with you. Don’t hesitate to ask about 3D renderings. Your architect will appreciate you being up front with your concerns so that he or she can address them before you move too deeply into a project. This clear communication is a recipe for peace-of-mind and a successful outcome for everyone.


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Three apps for choosing paint colors

Have you ever tried a new color in your home that looked enticing on the palette card but not so great on your walls? Or maybe you’re nervous about straying away from white because you don’t want to risk an eye-catching color that isn’t what you thought?

Help is here! Read on to enjoy the fun and convenience of bringing the perfect color into your home.

The Power of Color

From seasons to food and from places to moods, almost everything evokes a color. Think of winter’s creamy neutrals or sharp icy blues. What about a vibrant sunset on the beach, the rich greens of a forest canopy, or the jeweled colors of summer’s fruits and vegetables?  Colors can rev you up, calm you down, or offer comfort. They heat things up and cool them down.

Given color’s power over our psyche, it’s no surprise that one of the most common pieces of advice for decorating and design is adding a new coat of paint.

It’s easy to be inspired to change your space by changing the color… easy, that is, until you’re standing in the home improvement store faced with a massive wall of tantalizing paint color chips.

Fortunately, technology in the form of easy-to-use apps lends a helping hand in choosing paint colors and deciding which color combinations are right for you and your space.

Here are three apps that I find promising.  All free, these apps are an easy way to find inspiration for your home and have fun with your decorating.

1.  Benjamin Moore Color Capture App

choosing-paint-colors-BM-colorcaptureapp
True to its name, this app lets you capture your inspiration with your smart phone and then match it to one of Benjamin Moore’s collection of more than 3,500 paint colors. Found your dream kitchen color on an orchid while visiting the botanical gardens? No problem. Snap a picture and the app will match it for you. You can share the color with your social network, save pictures and their coordinating colors, and access a full color spectrum wheel. The app is available for iPod Touch, iPhone, iPad, and Android. Download the app and learn more here.

2.   Sherwin-Williams ColorSnap

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Sherwin-Williams offers its own version of a color matching app. As you would expect, this one matches your image’s color palette to one of 1,500 of SW’s own paint colors. This app allows you to fine tune and play with saturation, hue, and lightness features. You can also dig up detailed color information such as the RGB and LRV values. This app works on iPhone, Blackberry, and Android. Download and learn more here.

 3.   My Color Guide by Google

choosing-paint-colors-My-Color-Guide
My Color Guide was made with designers in mind. Similar to Benjamin Moore and Sherwin-Williams, My Color Guide will match an image taken with your smart phone to one of thousands of available colors. You can create custom palettes and share them with friends and family over email. This one also gives you the RGB values and hexadecimal numbers for precise matching. Download and learn more here. 

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As a 3D rendering professional, it’s great to know that a client can take a picture of their perfect color inspiration and share it with me or use it to specify an exact shade of paint, instead of leaving me guessing about what they had in mind.  Color-picker apps like these, combined with Houzz ideabooks and Pinterest boards (as explained in this post, written shortly before Pinterest hit the big-time), are great ways for people to communicate their design ideas.  This way, we can fine-tune their design in 3D renderings before they invest a dime in materials or contractor fees.

Have you tried any of these apps for choosing paint colors?  Are there any other great mobile apps that you use for home design or decor?


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A fun, creative kitchen remodel

HOW A STRESSFUL KITCHEN REMODEL BECAME CREATIVE AND FUN

Major kitchen overhauls represent a huge investment of time, energy, and trust. Think about it — after carefully poring over and painstakingly selecting paint colors, cupboard styles, flooring options, fixtures, appliances, floor plan layouts, window treatments, etc., you have to trust that your contractors will deliver something that meets your vision.

Sounds stressful, doesn’t it? But there is a way to improve the trust with your contractors and service providers… and consequently free up your energy for a fun, creative kitchen remodel. Recently, a friendly couple discovered first-hand how they could renew their trust in their service providers and embrace the fun in their remodeling project.

A Little Background

When the couple first contacted me, they were in the process of planning a major kitchen overhaul.  They had plans and elevations drawn up by a reputable kitchen designer. But they were getting frustrated  because they just couldn’t visualize the end result from those black-and-white CAD drawings. Luckily, as they were looking through an issue of DesignNY magazine, they saw the write-up about CastleView 3D.  

They sent me a message.

“We are planning a remodel and having difficulty with our plans. The folks doing the kitchen have very limited imaging software and we are having difficulty communicating our wishes. Can you help?”

Why, yes!  Yes, I can help!

Since the couple only lived about 40 minutes away, I got in my car and paid a visit to their home (a rare treat for someone who works virtually with people all over the country).  We talked about what they wanted, I took some photos, and they gave me copies of the plans and elevations prepared by their kitchen designer.

More than a Kitchen

As we chatted, it quickly became obvious that they weren’t just remodeling their kitchen — they were actually redesigning the entire main living area of their home. The home had undergone some quirky remodeling before they purchased it.  The kitchen was enclosed by partial walls within a great room with a vaulted ceiling (see photos).  There was an awkward spiral staircase directly inside the main entry which they were planning to replace. They also wanted to give the fireplace wall a makeover by eliminating the stone facing, adding a hearth, and incorporating a Kozy Heat gas fireplace.

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Photo of partially enclosed kitchen area within great room

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Photo of partially enclosed kitchen area looking towards front entry

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Photo of awkward spiral staircase and landing.

The Innovative Vision

This couple loves to cook and entertain.  Their plan was to remove the partial walls surrounding the kitchen and extend the kitchen area across the whole back side of the great room, allowing them to use the entire space to socialize and interact with their guests.  A large center island would be added, as well as cabinet/work areas at each end. They had decided on painted black and white cabinets with custom-made concrete countertops.  The center island was to include a bar-height counter in the general shape of the Nike® “swoosh” logo, with the front covered in sheet metal with rivets. As a final playful touch, they wanted to incorporate a custom bubble tile mural from Mercury Mosaics on the back wall above the stove (similar to this one, inspired by the work of artist Gustav Klimt).

The overall effect was innovative and modern yet filled with creativity and fun!

Using their plans, elevations, and ideas for materials, finishes, appliances, lighting, and decor, I created a detailed 3D model of the space.  Then we worked together through several draft versions to arrive at these final renderings of their new kitchen design (click images to see full-size):

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3D rendering of kitchen remodel plans showing new center island, bubble tile backsplash, and new staircase

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3D rendering of kitchen remodel plans showing new fireplace wall and center island

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3D rendering of kitchen remodel plans showing counters, center island, and new stairs and landing

A WONDERFUL WORKING RELATIONSHIP

My clients were ecstatic to see their ideal kitchen come to life. Once they had a good understanding of the process, they really got into trying out different ideas and finish materials to see how they’d look and whether they would work out as they hoped.

After all, with detailed 3D renderings you are free to play with ideas without the risks of investing piles of time and money!

I received a lovely thank-you note at the completion of the project (as well as a really nice review on my Houzz profile):

I am so very pleased with these photos [renderings]. It has made my kitchen come alive! I will be using these religiously to get through the chaos of the remodel. Thank you so much!

These clients were great to work with because they really discovered the value of 3D renderings in helping them to achieve the exciting, fun kitchen of their dreams. In the end, they knew exactly what they wanted and were able to communicate that vision clearly to their contractors and service providers. It was a win for everyone!

Do you have remodeling plans you’d like to see come to life in 3D?  I’d love to hear from you.


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Another inspiration (#7)

INSPIRING RENDERINGS BY MUHAMMED TAHER

Here’s another entry from my “Inspirations” file.  Every so often, I see examples of amazing 3D renderings that I want to share because I find them so inspirational for my own rendering work.

I first saw today’s inspirational renderings on CGArchitect.com (an inspiring site in itself). What can I say about this rendering by Muhammad Taher, a freelance architect and architectural visualization artist in Alexandria, Egypt, except that it’s stunning and a true inspiration? There are so many things in this image to study and learn from — models, lighting, texturing, staging of the scene, camera settings and placement, and more.  For me, the only element in this rendering that doesn’t work quite as well as the rest is the bouquet of flowers.  Roses? A middle Eastern flower I’m unfamiliar with?  I’m not sure. But it definitely doesn’t spoil the overall effect.

"Master Bedroom" _renderings by Muhammad Taher

Inspirational “Master Bedroom” rendering by Muhammad Taher

Muhammed also does excellent exterior renderings, but I’m particularly partial to his interiors.  Here is another one of my favorites (but truthfully, there are so many, and all so excellent, that it’s hard to choose favorites):

"Moroccan Majlis"_renderings by Muhammad Taher

Inspirational “Moroccan Majlis” rendering by Muhammad Taher

This image of a luxurious sitting room in Doha, Qatar (see the whole series of renderings here), is full of wonderful details and impressive architecture.  Those windows must be 20 feet tall! Muhammed’s work is modeled in 3DS Max and rendered with VRay.

You can see more of Muhammed’s inspiring artistry on his website.  He also has a Facebook page showcasing his recent work.

Sometimes when I see work like this I get discouraged, doubting that I could ever achieve this level of technical and artistic expertise.  But then I remember that it’s always good to have something to aspire to. So I’ll continue to share things that motivate me to keep improving.


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3D renderings of vacation homes

THREE WATERFRONT HOME VISUALIZATIONS

Over the summer, CastleView 3D worked on three visualization projects for clients who were building or remodeling waterfront vacation homes. Rochester, New York (where our world headquarters is located) is situated on the shores of Lake Ontario and in the midst of the beautiful Finger Lakes region of upstate New York.  So lake homes and waterfront cottages are definitely on a lot of people’s minds around here.

Each project was very different, in terms of the starting point and what the clients needed to see in their 3D renderings.  These projects demonstrate some of the many ways that 3D visualization can be useful when building or remodeling a vacation home.

1.  Canandaigua Lake Cottage:  The Front Porch Addition

[click any image to open full-size]
Canandaigua Lake Cottage: "Before" photo

Canandaigua Lake Cottage: “Before” photo

Canandaigua Lake Cottage: Rendering with porch and dormers

Canandaigua Lake Cottage: Rendering with porch and dormers

This couple had just bought a small fixer-upper cottage on Canandaigua Lake.  They were planning to enclose the original front porch to enlarge the great room, replace most of the windows, and add a new full-length front porch to take better advantage of the view.  The series of visualizations done for them from their photos and hand-drawn sketch of the floorplan allowed them to evaluate various porch options.  It also helped them decide on the shape and placement of dormer windows in the attic to bring more light into the kitchen and great room areas.

2.  Sodus Bay House:  The Siding Question

Sodus Bay House: Front "before" photo

Sodus Bay House: Front “before” photo

Sodus Bay House: Front rendering with pergola

Sodus Bay House: Front rendering with pergola

Sodus Bay House: Rear "before" photo

Sodus Bay House: Rear “before” photo

Sodus Bay House: Rear rendering with siding and transom windows

Sodus Bay House: Rear rendering with siding and transom windows

This client was in the process of building his own vacation home on Sodus Bay, but couldn’t decide on exterior finishes.  Using our renderings created from his photos and hand-drawn floorplan, he was able to experiment with different colors and types of siding, stone, brick, and wood finishes for the exterior, plus various shutter styles for the windows.  We also tried out two different treatments for the front entry, a shed roof porch and a pergola, and suggested the addition of transom windows on the back side of the house to bring in even more light.

3.  Canandaigua Lake House:  Visualizing the Interior

Canandaigua Lake House: Main floor plan

Canandaigua Lake House: Main floor plan

Canandaigua Lake House: Interior rendering looking toward kitchen

Canandaigua Lake House: Interior rendering looking toward kitchen

Canandaigua Lake House: Interior rendering looking toward main entry

Canandaigua Lake House: Interior rendering looking toward main entry

When these clients first contacted us, they were still in the planning and design stages for the lake house they were building on their large lakefront lot at the southern end of Canandaigua Lake.  The new lake house was being built as a lovely year-round retreat, to augment the small summer cottage already on their property.  They had blueprints and elevations drawn up by their architect, but they needed detailed visualizations of the interior spaces to help them choose finishes and determine furniture, kitchen, and bath layouts.

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I love being able to use 3D rendering to help people visualize their building and remodeling ideas, especially for fun spaces like cottages and vacation homes.  Making big decisions about the construction and decor of your home is scary — you know you’ll have to live with a wrong decision for a long time, or else pay big bucks to have it made right.  So much easier to experiment and try things out when only pixels are at stake!

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NOTE:  All modeling was done in Chief Architect X5.  Renderings were done in CAX5 or in Thea Render Studio.

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The value of Houzz for remodeling projects

DO YOU HOUZZ?

I find Houzz.com to be an extremely valuable resource for both my own and my clients’ remodeling and redecorating projects.  In case you’ve been on another planet for the past couple of years, here’s what Houzz is all about (in their own words):

Houzz is the leading online platform for home remodeling and design, providing people with everything they need to improve their homes from start to finish – online or from a mobile device. From decorating a room to building a custom home, Houzz connects millions of homeowners, home design enthusiasts, and home improvement professionals across the country and around the world. With the largest residential design database in the world and a vibrant community powered by social tools, Houzz is the easiest way for people to get the design inspiration, project advice, product information and professional reviews they need to help turn ideas into reality.

Houzz is like Facebook, Pinterest, Wikipedia, Architectural Digest, and House Beautiful all rolled into one.  So it probably goes without saying that it can be very addictive.

On Houzz, you can search a huge database of images for architecture and decor ideas, using just about any style or design or color keywords you can think of.  When you see something you like, you can add that image to a personal Ideabook.  You can also add notes about why you like that image or what specific aspect or item in it appealed to you.  Your Ideabook becomes a montage of features you’d like to include in your room or home.

Houzz Ideabooks are particularly useful to me in my work with clients.  The Ideabook my client puts together tells me a story about what they want to see in their renderings. And because pictures speak louder than words, I don’t have to spend a lot of time guessing about what exactly they meant by “I want a French country living room.”  The images they choose to include in their “French County Living Room Design Ideas” Ideabook can communicate very clearly the specific look they have in mind, especially if they’ve annotated the images with comments about particular features.

As an example of how this works, I put together an Ideabook of my own with images of beautiful bedrooms that I liked, including notes about what appealed to me about each image.  You can see it here.  Then I modeled and rendered this luxurious, serene, bed-sitting room using the elements I liked best from each image.

3D rendering of a beautiful bedroom created by CastleView 3D based on Houzz.com images

3D rendering of a beautiful bedroom created by CastleView 3D
(click to view full-size)

I started with the rug and general layout of this room, which was my favorite, and then added in various other elements from some of the other rooms. I love the muted color scheme of taupes and blues with white trim and natural wood floors — so relaxing.  Actually, I love everything about this space because I designed it just for me!  

There are many other useful features on Houzz.  You can search out a variety of home design professionals, find information about specific products, engage in topical discussions, or get your home design problems solved by the Houzz community.  You can follow others (and be followed in return), read and write reviews of professionals, see before-and-after examples, and much more.  Houzz is pretty indispensable these days for anyone interested in home design, decor, and remodeling.

Ready to get started?  Follow CastleView 3D on Houzz!


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