Last Thursday night I had the opportunity to join Hawthorn Builder’s Design Director, Jessica Chabot, to an exclusive design event hosted by both Clarke and Houzz. The evening kicked off in Clarke fashion with an impressive food display and open bar. The atmosphere was buzzing and it was clear that this was a time to network with other local designers, contractors and distributors; as well as catch up with colleagues and even old mentors. The main event was a seminar conducted by Houzz’s Michael Stein who presented “The Marketplace in New England.” I was beyond impressed at the enormous amount of information Stein was able to relay in such a short amount of time. Notably a well versed speaker, I found him easy to follow and engaging at the same time.
What many of us attending were there for was the opportunity to listen to someone from behind the scenes of Houzz…the popular, interactive and inspiring online design tool that so many of us use on a daily basis. For a quick background, Houzz is quite simply the largest online platform for remodel and design. Stein provided us with overwhelming stats – currently there are 450 thousand professionals using Houzz and most impressively it was recently unveiled that the Houzz app is the highest rated non-game app to date with 20 million users. To further emphasis the impact that Houzz can have on a design; Clarke receives 4,700 looks a day, equaling 1.7 million looks a year. Many of Hawthorn Builders’ clients utilize the site to build their own “ideabooks” of creative inspiration for bathrooms, kitchens, etc. As a company, Hawthorn Builders has created our own profile with pictures and information about our custom home projects. Quite simply, Houzz is a groundbreaking platform for both designers and homeowners.
We then found out how and why Houzz does what it does and the calculated method behind it. Stein outlined for us the 5 stand-alone reasons that make Houzz so popular:
- Inspiration – Professionals are able to inspire homeowners and other professionals by uploading their own finished products and designs.
- Editorial – Articles on trends, products, etc. are readily available.
- Product Database – Many times users can find detailed information about featured products seen in the images: everything from vendor to price or color to fabric.
- Social Media Platform – Discussions are available between homeowners and professionals. Most recently, private discussions from professionals to professionals have become available as well.
- Services – Houzz will provide you with the contact information of the vendor you see that produces the designs or builds you find adding to your “ideabooks”. From flooring to pavers to roofs, windows to HVAC.
Next, and most importantly for us at Hawthorn Builders, Stein went on to discuss the actual users of Houzz. Using a surveyed population from the Boston area, Houzz found that 86% of users want to decorate, re-decorate or renovate an existing space. 9% are looking to custom build from the ground up. Despite seeming like a low number, given the research found other areas, Stein pointed out that this percentage was quite high and due in part to the availability for space and bigger lots in our area.
Even more interesting – 81% of Boston Houzz users are paying for these home projects with cash on hand, whereas the national average ranks at 71%.
66% of homeowners would rather remodel their space than move. As many homeowners can relate, people grow to love their space and they want to evolve within it if possible.
Neutral kitchens are still the rave! However a creeping trend of color is making its way into the typical stainless steel and white layout. By adding a pop of color with the refrigerator, stove or accent cabinetry, homeowners are warming up their space with colorful, retro charm.
And…the master bathroom…40% of people surveyed are going tub-less! Longevity in a home is appealing and people are finding that long term-ease and accessibility is preferred. Therefore, using square footage for an expansive, step-in shower is much more practical. Additional, noteworthy bathroom trends include the continued popularity of frameless showers, an increase in showerheads that have moveable parts (arms) rather than stationary showerheads and the placement of windows or skylights to provide extra light.
To wrap up my experience attending a Houzz event, I will say that I left inspired and informed. Both Jessica and I felt that we were bringing back relevant and in-trend information for our clients and team. There will be more from Houzz in the future. They are currently working on the ability to integrate uploading web-videos, so live demolitions or client walk-thrus can be available to users. Hawthorn Builders certainly can see a use for that. In the end it was a great experience to be among so many people in the same field, all trying to find out more about how to provide clients with the best home they can have.
I felt honored when Stein asked for those ever nominated for the “best of Houzz” to raise their hands. Hawthorn Builders gratefully took home the nomination in 2013 and we were one of a few raised hands…hopefully 2015 can be another promising year for both Houzz and Hawthorn Builders.
Please feel free to check out our portfolio of projects and galleries on our website and Houzz!