Tag Archives: interior design

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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Visualizing a contemporary home remodel

A CRISP, CLEAN, CONTEMPORARY HOME REMODEL DESIGN

Recently, CastleView 3D worked with a couple in Florida who were undertaking a major remodel to the townhome they had purchased.   They had a few preliminary 3D views done by someone working in Sketchup, but they weren’t really satisfied with the level of detail they were able to see, plus they felt the process was taking too long.  That’s when the wife did a web search and found CastleView 3D.  After a brief phone conversation and a couple of emails, a wonderful working relationship was born.

We spent a great deal of time visualizing numerous versions of the kitchen and master bath designs, tweaking the details to get them exactly right.  The couple wanted a sleek, clean, contemporary design — no fuss, no frills, and no curves or rounded edges.  The color scheme was light and neutral — taupe, ivory, palest green, and white, with natural limestone, bleached wood floors, glossy lacquered cabinetry, and some dark wenge wood accents.  Below are photorealistic renderings of these two room designs.

The kitchen design features glossy white lacquer European-style frameless cabinets, frosted glass pantry doors, white quartz countertops, a large island with serving area, and a backlit backsplash behind the stove.

[click images to open full-size]
Contemporary home remodel - kitchen design rendering

Kitchen, island, and dining area

The master bath has limestone counters and tile, white wenge wood floating cabinets, a steam shower enclosure, a skylight, and pale green walls.

Contemporary home remodel - master bath design rendering

Master bath

Over a period of several months, the clients and I also explored various options for the great room, the office, the home theater, the exercise room, and the master and guest bedrooms, to help with finish material choices, lighting, and space planning.  We also worked on visualizing the patio, pool with decorative water wall, and landscape design.  It took over 9 months for the couple to get everything designed to their satisfaction and subsequently approved by their homeowners board.  Below are a few of the renderings done for this project, out of more than 200 total.

Great Room design rendering

Great Room design rendering

Office and home theater rendering

Office and home theater rendering

Home theater design rendering

Home theater design rendering

Landscaping for front entry

Landscaping for front entry

Patio, pool with water wall, and rear landscaping

Patio, pool with water wall, and rear landscaping

These clients were very enthusiastic about the value of their work with CastleView 3D in visualizing their contemporary home remodel.  They say it was extremely helpful in their design planning to be able to see detailed renderings of their ideas.  Some things they originally thought they wanted, such as stainless steel cabinets and a dark marble counter in the kitchen, were eliminated once they saw how they would actually look.

The wife says that the 3D renderings helped her to communicate with her husband and get him excited about her ideas for their home.  The renderings also helped the couple communicate with their contractors about exactly what they want.

“Working with CastleView 3D has been a real gift for us and has made an incredible difference.  Saved us many, many mistakes in our build.  I had no idea how incapable I was of visualizing things from blueprints and plans. We tell people about you all the time!”

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

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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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Another inspiration (#6)

Posted by Kathleen Moore, CastleView 3D:
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Inspiring 3D renderings by Ramon Zancanaro

Here’s another entry in my “Inspirations” series — and wow, this one is really inspiring, especially to those of us who do 3D renderings of interiors and are always looking for realistic draperies, bedclothes, and the like.

Inspirational 3D rendering by Ramon Zancanaro

Inspirational 3D rendering by Ramon Zancanaro

This is one of a series of renderings done by 3D artist Ramon Zancanaro as a “cloth study” (see more on Ronan Bekerman’s blog).  The cloth was created using a modeling software called “Marvelous Designer” — an app for clothing designers, but obviously put to beautiful architectural use here (perhaps this would be called an off-label use?).

The face count on these cloth models must be astronomical (although I believe Ramon uses some modification to reduce the poly count).  My understanding is that he plans to do a “Making of…” video explaining his process, to be posted on Ronan’s blog.  That promises to be very enlightening, and I will include a link to it once it has been posted.

UPDATE 9/16/2012:  At last, here is the promised “how-to” from Ramon explaining how he used Marvelous Designer for the cloth modeling in this scene!  www.ronenbekerman.com/3d-cloth-modeling-with-marvelous-designer/

 

Here’s another fantastic example of Ramon’s 3D rendering work for you to enjoy.  Look at the cutwork on that tablecloth — fantastic!

Another inspirational 3D rendering by Ramon Zancanaro

I’m truly so impressed and inspired by skill and talent like this — I hope you are too.


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Virtual home staging

Posted by Kathleen Moore, CastleView 3D:

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Recently a friend sent me an article from the New York Times.com Real Estate section about virtual home staging:  “Staging, Ever More Virtual.” I was pleased to see that virtual home staging is becoming such a hot trend that it was written up in the Times!

Home staging is the art (or is it a science?) of preparing a home for sale, with the goal of making the home appealing to the highest number of potential buyers to help the property to sell more quickly and at a higher price.*

Staging focuses on improving the property’s appeal by adding a few carefully selected furnishings and accessories to transform it into an attractive, neutral space that anyone might want.  By adding warmth, staging can help the potential homeowner emotionally connect with and “see” him or herself in the home.  Plus, there are many people who simply can’t visualize furniture in a space without furniture actually being there. A few pieces of artfully arranged furniture can help the buyer determine scale in the room and imagine how their own furnishings will fit.

In the Times article, Vince Collura, the president of Gotham Photo, a company in New York City which offers virtual staging services, is quoted as saying:

“I’ve gone to dozens and dozens of open houses, and I’m always being told to use my imagination by a broker….   Customers don’t have imagination; they’re looking for the potential risks, not the possibilities.”

Staging is particularly important if a home is vacant, to minimize that hollow, echo-y, deserted feeling and help a potential homebuyer feel more at ease.  In today’s buyers’ market, it’s an especially worthwhile investment. Buyers may assume that because a house is empty the owner needs to sell quickly, and will make a lower offer.

The beauty of virtual staging is that it can help potential buyers see the possibilities of a property by working the same magic as regular home staging — adding extra warmth and livability to a vacant property — but accomplishing this much more cost-effectively than renting and hauling in furnishings, rugs, accessories, etc.

Home virtually staged by 3DPlanView

Home virtually staged by 3DPlanView

My colleague Kay Nordby of 3DPlanView has a wonderful example on her website of how powerful this technique can be and how much value it can add.  Using photos of an empty living and dining room, Kay added her beautiful furnishings and decor (see the “after” photo above).  The images were then used by the real estate professional as a virtual model home, showcasing the property’s hidden potential.

CastleView 3D did a similar type of project a few months ago for a realtor in California whose client wanted to use his home’s potential view of the bay as a selling point by creating a virtual second story with a balcony.  For that project, we created a 3D model of the home rather than digitally altering a photograph.

Gotham Photo, the company profiled in the NYT article, works their virtual staging magic with Photoshop rather than 3D modeling.  The article says that their pricing “starts at” $100, but I’d be interested in knowing what the price was for the nice example they show on their website.  I’m pretty sure it wasn’t $100!

As noted in the article, it’s important to keep things on the up-and-up by being  clear with potential renters or buyers that digital modifications have been made to the space, either by including a notation on the image  that it has been enhanced with virtual staging, or by presenting side-by-side “before” and “after” images.  But as long as everyone is clear about what has been done and that no serious defects in the property are being hidden with tricky computer magic, virtual staging can be of real benefit to realtors, sellers, AND buyers.

If you’re interested in virtual staging for a home or property you’re selling, CastleView 3D would be happy to work with you!


*To be honest, there doesn’t seem to be any verifiable research on the ultimate value of home staging.  One widely-quoted statistic claims that a study by Coldwell Banker found that staged homes realized on average a 6.4% increase over the list price, and another claims that a HUD survey found that staged homes sell for an average of 17.9% higher than unstaged homes!  But unfortunately I was never able to find the actual study to verify either of those numbers.  So, while it makes sense that staging can boost a property’s sales potential, it’s hard to quantify by exactly how much.
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Creating with what you know

Posted by Kathleen Moore, CastleView 3D:
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A French country style rendering project

A builder came to me a while back with a new floorplan he had designed.  He wanted to showcase it with beautiful renderings on his website and marketing materials.  His only instruction to me was to “make it look French Country style.”

I’ve been to the French countryside exactly once, in August 2003.  Some friends and I spent a week piloting a houseboat through the locks of the Canal du Nivernais in the Burgundy region of central France.  My memories of this delightful trip include lots of good wine and the best boeuf bourguignonne I’ve ever tasted (so good we went back to the same inn the next night and ordered it again).  They also include canalside views of rolling hills and interesting architecture — lovely churches and chateaux, charming lock-keepers’ cottages.

When I took on the rendering project for this builder, I wasn’t especially familiar with what’s known as “French Country decor,” so naturally these were the images that immediately flashed through my mind.

I consulted various design websites, books, and other resources to educate myself more about the style.  In case you’re interested, here’s the list of design elements I put together to define French Country style:

  • Used to be called French Provençale or French Provincial.
  • Rustic, old-world, welcoming; warm and casual; lavender fields and bright sunshine; casual and relaxed with light and airy spaces.
  • Colors:  Sunny yellow, golds, terracotta red, French blue, lavender, bright and dark greens.  Color palette mixed and matched on fabrics, accents, and walls, with accents of black and gray.
  • Fabrics:  Colorful Provençal prints combining primary colors with greens, lavenders, and bright orange. Toile with white, cream, or yellow ground and large motifs in a single contrasting color, such as black, blue, red, or green.
  • Motifs:  roosters, olives, sunflowers, grapes, lavender, beetles [beetles? really?]
  • Rough stained or painted plaster walls, hefty beamed ceilings and walls, delicate carved wood details.
  • Rustic flooring of stone, clay, or brick, covered with wool or cotton rugs.
  • Gently worn, weathered paint; rough plaster, stone, wood, wrought iron, terracotta, clay, zinc, glass, linen, and natural fibers.
  • Textured walls, informal wood tones, weathered patinas, hand painted furniture.
  • A large dining table, rectangle or round, with a dull waxed or low-sheen finish; chairs are ladderback or have vertical slats, often with rush seating.
  • Rusted metal furniture, lighting fixtures, and furniture
  • Woven or wire baskets, colorful ceramics and tiles, carved wood pieces, Chinoiserie pottery, and natural grasses for accessories
  • Faience, creamware, antique lanterns, decorative birdcages, candlesticks, urns.  Iron candle holders, wire baskets, heavy pottery water pitchers, colorful tablecloths.
  • Wrought iron chandelier
  • Old, dark, or colorful paintings
  • Natural flowers in baskets, an old pitcher or copper pot, or clear glass vases.  Geraniums and lavender are popular.
  • Outdoors: concrete statues, potted boxwood, wrought iron accessories; seamless flow between house and garden.
  • Deeply cut window sills with tall, narrow windows.

My research was helpful, but the images from my trip were probably more influential in determining the final look of the renderings.  It was hot during my week in France (perhaps you remember the record-breaking heatwave they had in 2003?  that’s when we were there), so the exteriors and especially the interior rendering have a sultry, sun-baked feel to them (click to view renderings full-size).

CastleView 3D rendering of French Country style house, exterior front view

CastleView 3D rendering of French Country style house, exterior front view

CastleView 3D rendering of French Country style house, exterior rear view

CastleView 3D rendering of French Country style house, exterior rear view

CastleView 3D rendering of French Country style interior

CastleView 3D rendering of French Country style interior

I’m not sure this was exactly what the builder had in mind when he specified French Country, but he was pleased with the renderings so it must have been close enough.

Every artist has their personal favorites among their own works, and these are some of mine. When I look at these renderings, I recapture the sense of relaxed warmth and the spirit of discovery and adventure I had on my boat trip through the French countryside — and my hope is that some of that comes through to other viewers as well.


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