Home project? There’s an app for that
BY GWENDOLYN PURDOM For Sun-Times Media
Houzz screenshot image. Courtesy of Houzz
Whether you’re renovating your entire home or painting an autumn accent wall, the days of hauling heavy fabric sample binders and garlands of paint chips are long gone. The scores of smartphone and tablet tools designers, architects and homeowners now have at the tips of their touch screens continue to change the way home projects are done — and there’s a little something for everyone.
Geno Benvenuti, of the Evanston and Winnetka-based Benvenuti & Stein Design Build, said the popular mobile and online home platform Houzz helps him market and organize his work in a convenient, portable and updateable way. As the top lifestyle app available on iTunes, Houzz features more than 1.5 million inspiration-sparking project images from remodeling and design professionals — including Benvenuti & Stein — that community members can view and share, among other features. In January, the site named Benvenuti & Stein among the year’s Best of Remodeling professionals, meaning his projects were added to the most user ideabooks.
“We’re seeing professionals get work outside of their normal word of mouth circle but also out of state and even out of the country,” Houzz’s VP of community, Liza Hausman, said.
La Grange kitchen and cabinetry designer Cheryl Daugvila said she too has found new client and business connections via apps and mobile social media.
“Just keeping up with how the industry is shifting is what I have to do as a business owner,” Daugvila said.
Mobile tools are not limited to professionals. Others promise to make things easier on homeowners, as well:
— DecorPad (iPad and iPhone; free): Features project inspiration libraries organized by room, paint galleries and budget-friendly “look 4 less” ideas.
— ColorSmart by BEHR Mobile (iPad, iPhone, and Android; free): Allows users to take an image of something and finds a BEHR paint color to match. It also has browsing, sharing and preview functions.
— Mark on Call (iPad and iPhone; $2.99): Interior Designer Mark Lewison’s app offers planning and collaboration tools, as well as layout and visualization help like dimensions tracking and a way to apply images you take of actual finishes and fabrics to digital floor plans.
— Remodel or Move (iPad and iPhone; free): In addition to tips and idea pages, this app boasts a variety of project cost calculators.
— Home 3D (iPad and iPhone; $3.99): You can layout floor plans, arrange fixtures and furniture, and take a 3D tour of your space with this app.