Tag Archives: Cool stuff on the web

Improve your remodel experience with Houzz

 

HOW HOUZZ CAN IMPROVE YOUR REMODEL EXPERIENCE

Houzz logoI’ll just come out and say it. Yes indeedy, Houzz is yet another niche social media site competing for your attention amidst the din of a sometimes annoyingly-saturated market.

But Houzz is different. I promise it’s worth your time, because it can actually improve your design, build, or remodel experience.

At its core, Houzz is a visual online community giving members pretty much everything they need to improve their homes. Featuring luscious interior and exterior home photos, articles written by industry professionals, and an active and helpful user forum, Houzz provides design inspiration, project advice, product information, and professional reviews, all set in a beautiful, easy-to-use format. You can use Houzz on your computer, tablet, or smart phone.  And it’s FREE!

Houzz is so useful, I encourage all my new clients to create an account, or in the world of Houzz, an ‘Ideabook,’ to help guide me in working on their project. Here’s why: without quality visual aids, there are common key junctures in a design process where the communication between you and your service provider can become… shall we say… a bit murky.

But by using 3D renderings, made even more precise by effective use of Houzz’s resources, you can transform the process of planning your building or remodeling project into an enjoyable and exciting activity that saves you money… money that you can then invest in better quality products and design, not waste because of miscommunication.

Let’s explore the value of Houzz.

What EXACTLY is French provincial, anyhow?

photo of French chateau

Was this what you meant by “French provincial”?

Let’s say, for example, you want a style to be “warm contemporary,” “lakeside cottage,” or “French provincial.”  While each of these descriptions suggests a particular look, there is lots of interpretive wiggle room. You can try to describe colors, provide intricate descriptions of pattern and textile preferences, and explain the type of flooring that you find attractive. But without specific visual examples, all these verbal descriptions will go through the subjective human filter of your designer or decorator. He or she, in turn, may present you with a collection of fabric swatches, floor samples, and colors derived from your descriptions, all prettily arranged together.  Looking attractive on a board is one thing, but will you like how these elements look when they are installed into your real life space?

Houzz gives you concrete visual examples. You can pick and choose pictures of specific elements, fabrics, textures, color schemes, and group them together any way you want, adding notes about what you do and don’t like in each image. Then when you give these elements to me, I can use them to put together an entire room so you can see how everything will look before it’s contracted and built.

Discover Something You Didn’t Even Know Was Possible

How would you feel if you discovered something really cool after your remodel project wrapped up? Don’t be a victim of lost opportunity. With more than 1,500,000 product ratings by industry professionals, Houzz is a grand central station to ideas, concepts, and possibilities that you may not even know existed. With Houzz, you can be a visionary and creatively play with design without big worries about cost. If you want to see how a product, design idea, or creative solution would look in your project, simply find it on Houzz, share it with me, and I’ll work it into your rendering. Of course another option is to fly to Las Vegas to browse the International Builder’s Show, but Houzz is a lot more practical for most people!

Research Your Service Providers

Anyone can use Houzz’s Find a Pro service to research a variety of design and remodel professionals in their area. Over 2 million professionals are listed, along with reviews and rankings from previous clients. For example, my professional profile can be seen here.

Best of Houzz 2014 badgeHouzz gives annual awards for professionals who excel. Castleview 3D recently earned The Best of Houzz 2014 for Service. This means Castleview 3D was rated at the highest level for client satisfaction by the Houzz community!

Have Fun

On Houzz, you’re in good company! As a member of the Houzz community you can ask questions and read input from interior and exterior design professionals and other community members (homeowners and design enthusiasts).

The best part is what you can do with the advice you receive. As a 3D renderer, I help my clients have fun by taking away the mystery and anxiety of a home remodel and replacing it with confidence, convenience, and discovery. Why not try out an entirely different color or style of furniture? You can see the results as they would actually appear in your home. You’ll never be left wondering “what if” again!

Houzz has proven to be a very valuable tool for my work with clients. But you don’t need a 3D renderer to get started on Houzz. Jump in!  Have fun!  You never know, perhaps you’ll find just the idea you need to spark a design change of your own!


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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

choosing-paint-colors-sw-colorsnap-app
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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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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Wishing you a three-dimensional holiday season

Posted by Kathleen Moore, CastleView 3D:
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Season’s Greetings, Everyone…

CastleView 3D wishes you a very 3D holiday season:
  • Delightful
  • Delicious
  • Deeply meaningful

It's Snowing!  Holiday Greetings gif image from CastleView 3D

(Click here to make it snow!  But it’s a big image–give it time to load completely)*
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As the year comes to an end, I get reflective about everything that has happened over the year.  This has definitely been an eventful year for me personally as well as for CastleView 3D — and the success of this blog is one of the highlights.  I’d like to offer my sincere thanks to you for reading Life Should Be 3D this year, and wish you a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year!

Let me know if there are any 3D-related topics you’d like to see covered here. I’m always looking for information on new software, tips on modeling or rendering techniques, and inspirational rendered images. And while you’re at it, how about making a New Year’s resolution to write  a guest post for this blog?  Just contact me with your ideas — I’m always on the lookout for interesting new ideas, projects, products, and points of view to share.

I hope your holidays are rich in everything that’s most meaningful to you.  See you in 2012!

Kathleen


*The snowfall is created using a fun little freeware app called Sqirlz Water Reflections.  Sqirlz is a quick way to add basic rain, snow, reflection, and/or ripple animations to any still image, and can save the results in AVI, GIF, or Flash format.  You can see another example I created using Sqirlz here.

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My virtual water cooler — Chieftalk, the Chief Architect user forum

Posted by Kathleen Moore, CastleView 3D:
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In praise of Chieftalk

When you run a solo shop and spend most of your day working alone in a home office, the work may be stimulating but the workday can get a bit lonely.  Although my husband will talk my ear off about pickleball and baseball, he has absolutely no interest in discussing the uses and relative merits of slabs vs. soffits vs. polylines.  In fact, I’d be stunned if I found out that he even knew what those terms meant (in relation to 3D modeling, anyhow)!

But luckily, when I was just starting out in this business some years ago, I found a wonderful resource provided by the Chief Architect company for users of its software:  the ChiefTalk users forum.  There is also a similar resource for users of CA’s consumer-level “Home Designer” products, called HomeTalk.  I actually started out on HomeTalk when I was still using Home Designer Pro, and “graduated” to ChiefTalk a few months later when I upgraded to the professional level software.

I’ve visited a lot of user forums over the years, and I’ve never found any that are both useful and friendly to the degree that ChiefTalk and HomeTalk are.  I learned quickly that some core users are apparently ALWAYS online, willing to answer questions about how to use the software or to help solve problems (which are almost always attributable to user error, of course). These folks rarely get impatient, no matter how many times a question may have been asked before.  Although they might respond with “Have you tried searching the archives?” or “What version of the software are you using?” or “We can help you better if you attach an image or plan,” once a new user understands the forum etiquette and protocol, they are always generous with their time and expertise.

what the heck happened? image - my first question on the Chieftalk forum

Image from one of my first “What the heck happened here?” posts on Chieftalk

As my skill level grew, I stopped asking so many questions and found I was able to start giving back by providing occasional answers and advice in my area of expertise, rendering and raytracing.  By then, the ChiefTalk regulars felt like friends — people I looked forward to interacting with on a regular basis.  We joke around and get silly sometimes, occasionally have heated arguments and discussions, but ultimately get along just fine most of the time.  There is actually a separate sub-forum called “Chatroom” on ChiefTalk (and another one called “Way Off Topic,” accessible via secret password only) for discussions outside the typical software Q&A realm.  We’ve shared important life events like weddings and new babies with each other through pictures.  Some of us have ventured off in different directions, learning together and sharing our successes and failures in constructive ways.

So Lew, Allen, David, Louis, Kay, Bryce, Wendy, Pat, Jintu, Jonathan, Chris, Scott, Pam, and all the rest — even though I’ve never actually met any of you IRL, after all these years you definitely feel like my friends and colleagues.  I’m indebted to each one of you for generously sharing not only your knowledge and expertise, but other important parts of who you are.

I encourage everyone to check out ChiefTalk, if you’re a Chief Architect user — or whatever user forum seems most appropriate for your interests — and work hard to create your own group of  “virtual water cooler” buddies.


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An answer to a growing problem

Posted by , CastleView 3D:

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Have you heard or read about Pinterest yet?Pinterest Logo

I had seen mentions of it in several places, and was intrigued enough to check it out the other day.  When I finally saw it, I thought Wow, this just may turn out to be the answer to a burgeoning problem in my life!

My problem:  I’m a browser window hoarder.  Yes, I admit it.  That, and Pinterest, are the first steps to recovery.

At any given time, I’ve got between 20-30 browser tabs open, usually things I’ve run across while surfing the web and want to refer to or read later.  Luckily Firefox is good about saving all my tabs when I close out, so I rarely lose them.  But the assortment is unwieldy to navigate and can take a long time to load.  Any videos in the group always start playing again when the page reloads, so a sudden cacaphony of sounds usually results.

Bookmarks don’t really do the trick for me — I already have hundreds sorted into dozens of folders, and can never seem to find what I want when I need it.

So what is Pinterest, and why is it so appealing?  It’s a website (yes, a social media site) for curating (and you know that’s all the rage, right?), categorizing, and sharing items of visual interest found on the web.  In other words, a cloud-based filing system for all those “save for later” photos and ideas I come across on the web.  I know that web curation apps have been around for awhile, but I guess none of them ever “clicked” as being particularly useful for me before.

Here’s a brief description from Pinterest’s About page:

Pinterest is a Virtual Pinboard.

Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes.

Best of all, you can browse pinboards created by other people. Browsing pinboards is a fun way to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.

"Pin-It" buttonThere is a “Pin It” button you can add to your bookmark toolbar that let’s you click on any web image and save it to one of your “boards”:

Once installed in your browser, the “Pin It” button lets you grab an image from any website* and add it to one of your pinboards. When you pin from a website, we automatically grab the source link so we can credit the original creator.

It saves the original web link along with the image!  Hooray!!  You can even pin videos.

[* I have to note here that it’s not quite accurate to say that you can grab ANY image from any website.  It seems that the images have to be of a certain minimum size, and if the image is only visible in a flash or pop-up window, you’re out of luck.]
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Most of my work is accomplished via digital collaboration, so my clients send me links to products, textures, and furnishings they find on the web that they want me to use in the renderings I’m doing for them, or use images to explain how they want their home to look.  And I usually end up with all of those various browser windows open as I work on the project.  So as soon as I saw Pinterest, I realized it could be a very useful resource for me to collect all the web pages and images related to a single project into one convenient location for reference.  And the clients and I could both contribute to it and “pin” images to the “design board” (I haven’t yet figured out how to share a board with only certain people, however — right now it’s either private to me or shared with everyone).

To try out this new idea, I created a mock “design board” with a collection of web resources used in a recent project, a bedroom remodel.  You can see the actual board on Pinterest here,  or here’s a screenshot of it:

Sample Pinterest Board

Sample Pinterest Board

These were all items the client had found on the web and wanted me to incorporate into the model and rendering I was doing for her.  And here’s the final rendering of the bedroom remodel, where you can see all these lovely items in action:

Final rendering -- Lower Level Bedroom Remodel

Final rendering — Lower Level Bedroom Remodel

So I have to say — Pinterest really does seem promising as an answer to my “browser window hoarding” problem, and as a useful tool for collaborating with my clients to collect project resources in one easily-accessible location.

And in case you’re wondering whether Pinterest is a giant time suck like most other social media sites — sure it is.  Big time.  But for a visual junkie like me, it’s a deliciously decadent treat to browse through all the fascinating and beautiful things that other people have found “pin-worthy.”  Visual voyeurism at its finest.

So what do you think about Pinterest?  Does it sound like something that you would find interesting or useful?


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