From the category archives:


Hello everyone! My name is Becky and I’m a contributor at Houzz, a home design site focused on helping design professionals and homeowners manage the remodeling and decorating process. Thanks so much to Robin for having me!
Robin asked me to explain how homeowners can use Houzz to communicate with their designers and viceversa. This is a topic I love because I interview architects, interior designers, contractors and homeowners all the time who tell me how they are using the site. To start, you can find a local professional from a wide range of home fields on Houzz by searching “Professionals” and then your Metro Area. You can check out their portfolios and see recommendations from other Houzz users. Next, let them get to know you via your ideabooks.

From the homeowner’s point of view: Say you are planning a bathroom remodel but you don’t even know what you want. When getting started with a designer you’re just getting to know, make an ideabook called “favorite bathrooms.” Browse through the Houzz photo database and pick out every bathroom that tickles your fancy and scribble down a reason why, like “garden tub opens to courtyard” or “Elvis tile mosaic” (O.K., I admit I have yet to see that one, but I’d like to!) You can then share the ideabook with your designer. This is a quick visual way for him or her to get to know your taste.

From the designer’s point of view: Designers can save photos to show clients to get a sense of their aesthetic and their likes and dislikes. They also can be very specific as the project progresses. Designers can leave notes in the captions like:

“Ms. Becks, here is the marble-topped oval Saarinen table I told you about earlier. What do you think of pairing it with woven French bistro chairs?”


“Ms. Becks, I know you said you thought plaid was too stodgy, but what do you think of this soft subtle blue wallcovering? I thought it was very you.”

Client and designer share editing access in an ideabook: You can share editing access with each other in your mutual ideabooks so that you can both write notes and add photographs to the ideabooks. For instance, this one might go something like this:

Designer: Ms. Becks, what do you think of these steel-case windows?
Client: Great, but can we integrate some doors? I’d like to walk out from the eating nook to the patio.
Designer:Yes. the ones I’ve seen have larger panels; I’ll track down some more pictures and add them to the ideabook tonight.

This is a great way for clients and designers to touch base on a regular basis during the design process without having to talk on the phone, scan anything, fax or meet up in person. I’m not saying you won’t be doing those things at all (you should be!), just that this is an easy way to keep in close, frequent touch in a low-maintenance way that will yield great results. I hope you’ll give it a try!

Find more inspiration from New York kitchen and bath designers and more design professionals at Houzz.

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I recently was interviewed for the September 16th issue of Rochester Business Journal via a phone call with Debbie Walzer, a freelance writer.  As always, when I can preach about the value of good design to a sympathetic ear I am at no loss for words.  I didn’t have a clue what the article was going to focus on, but as long it was about design then I was happy.

“Interior design projects without guidance pose risks” Working with no plan can mean losing sight of the big picture, designers say….and so the article began.  Particularly fascinating to me is that three interior designers (one of them me) were interviewed independently and we shared very similar experiences.  Heather DeMoras’ solution for clients without a plan is straightforward: “Work with a professional to create a long-term plan, which can be executed over time and in the end, a well-conceived plan will save you money.”  Jason Longo’s advice: “Invest in a good interior designer and the expertise will help you understand the value of this profession.”

In my personal experience, the most successful results are achieved when the client hires interior design services in the beginning of a project.  In the case of a new build, this can sometimes mean joining the design team when the preliminary architectural drawings are done.  Unfortunately, too many people resist hiring a designer until they have already made many costly mistakes.  There is always something I can do to remedy the problem but usually the room will never achieve its full potential that would have been achievable if the project got off to the right start.

The following drawings are examples of how I begin designing a room.  First I begin with the floor plan and furniture arrangements.  You will see the shape of the new built-in cabinetry in this family room.  The fireplace is the only thing that exists in the current space.  Since the room is quite large, the furniture arrangement is created to achieve a conversational grouping and yet the primary seating faces the TV or the fireplace.  To add additional character to the room and create a cozy intimate feeling in a space of this size, I decided to show my clients how the room would look if we continued the woodwork all around the room.  They loved the idea and after finessing the designs, a local woodworker was hired to build the custom cherry cabinetry and frame and panel walls.  With all this beautiful cherry in the room, we were struggling to find the right size end tables in the right style, so I designed a pair of tables that my woodworker will create as well.  You might be thinking that custom furniture would be extremely expensive, but his price was competitive with similar tables that we saw in stores, plus my clients think “it’s really cool” to know the person who made their furniture.

Family Room Floor Plan

Design for Built-in Cabinetry

Design for Cherry End Tables

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Five Cool Things – Cool Store of the Year

August 8, 2010

1: Take-Your-Breath-Away Entrance On entering Cornell’s, customers pass through a small antechamber that leads to the main showroom — an airy chapel-like space with a soaring double-height ceiling and huge suspended light so!t. Olivia says the dramatic transition still takes her breath away and validates their decision to invest in the complex engineering that was […]

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Cool Store of the Year Award

August 1, 2010

A two-year remodeling mission results in one of the most jaw-dropping stores in America. There are remodels that are a little like a scheduled maintenance upgrade. And then there are those that go far beyond a lick of fresh paint or a new coffee corner and become an all-consuming life-changing adventure. The two-year renovation of […]

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When Only The Finest Will Do

June 1, 2010

A visit to Cornell’s jewelers has always been a magical, wonderful experience. Expect it to be even more so now, thanks to a grand renovation completed in the Fall of 2009, just in time for the holidays. David and Olivia Cornell welcome you to their brand-new showroom at 3100 Monroe Avenue, in suburban Rochester. As […]

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East Ave. Kitchen Project – chapter five

May 10, 2010

~Chapter Five: Wining and Dining~ Old house restoration is often a balancing act between creating a museum and creating a comfortable home.  Just as there are levels of skill based designers and craftspeople today, so it was with the past.  Even famous architects do not always produce great works. This kitchen was originally design for […]

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East Ave. Kitchen Project – chapter four

March 26, 2010

~Chapter Four: The Big Squeeze~ Renovating an historically significant home can be difficult since often times people feel a sense of stewardship rather than a sense of ownership of such properties. Finding the right balance between charm and function usually boils down to sacrificing one thing to gain another. In this chapter of our kitchen […]

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East Ave. Kitchen Project – chapter three

February 27, 2010

~Chapter Three: Romancing the Stove~ One of the challenges in designing this kitchen was finding the space to add a center island and additional counter space with stools for casual dining.  The existing kitchen and laundry room were to remain as two separate rooms.  Since we were not building an addition to the kitchen, we […]

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East Ave. Kitchen Project – chapter two

February 6, 2010

~ Chapter Two: No Turning Back Now ~ Let’s face it, some people like to cook, but we all love to eat. As they say: “food is the great equalizer” (I love that expression).   The dining experience is the main event bringing friends and family together.  Not only do my clients love to cook but […]

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East Ave. Kitchen Project – chapter one

February 3, 2010

~ Chapter One: In the Beginning ~ Once upon a time there was a very nice couple who lived peacefully in a beautiful house set into a lovely landscaped yard in Rochester’s prized East Ave historic district.  They loved to cook and entertain their friends but unfortunately the existing kitchen was not up to pare.  […]

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