Since the 2000s, we’ve seen a lot of disruptive technologies, apps and services that changed the way we live, and shook up their respective industries. Social media sites like Facebook disrupted telecommunication. Transportation services like Uber disrupted the taxi industry. Airbnb disrupted the hotel and hospitality industry. Likewise, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin disrupted traditional banking.
When it comes to projects and ideas for home renovation and decoration, home improvement sites have disrupted it as well, allowing the wisdom of the pros be shared freely, and the knowledge of the crowd to be shared across many different platforms.
There are a handful of useful project and idea sites for home improvement out there in the Internet where you can gain a lot of knowledge for free. Here are some of the helpful sites and what you can get out of them:
Before Houzz was founded in 2009, most homeowners encountered a period of huge stress and anxiety from remodeling. People had to check out a stack of magazines and get referrals for pros from people they knew. But sometimes, it’s not enough and people get stuck with a project that is the second best. This is why the founders Adi Tatarko and Alon Cohen created Houzz, which is now the world’s leading online home design platform.
Houzz is a free platform and mobile app, which is a website and online community about interior design, architecture, home decoration and home improvement. It’s a one-stop design shop to get design inspiration, buy furnishings and accessories for your home project and talk to designers, contractors and architects. It connects more than 40 million homeowners, home improvement professionals and home design enthusiasts together. Houzz had over 9 million products sold and more than 14 million home design photos to offer.
This platform is made up of five key sections: photos, products, find a pro, ideabooks and community advice. After you sign up for an account, you can choose the styles you’re interested in seeing so you won’t be overwhelmed with too many options. You can browse photos posted by interior designers or firms for every room imaginable. If picked something you love and you wish to recreate that look for your own space, you can click on the tagged items to look at product information. From there, you can buy the same item. Tags are not available for all photos, buy you can ask the designer on the side about the item you like. Designers are very responsive and they love to help.
With Houzz, you can organize your home decoration or renovation project through Ideabooks. It’s where you can upload your own sketch or your own photos, write notes, add comments and add some collaborators to help manage your project efficiently. You can also experiment with furniture arrangements using Houzz’s pre-set rooms or you can upload your own photo of your room, to take the guesswork out. The “View in My Room 3D” option can let you try out virtually the furniture in your own house before you buy it.
Another great thing about Houzz is that you can easily seek expert help regarding your home project. Just enter your service into the search bar and answer preliminary questions about the scope of your project, then you’ll be matched with a professional who can answer you. You can even hire a professional available in your area to work with your project. You can hire professionals for home design and remodeling, home improvement, home repair and installation services, and cleaning services.
Hometalk is an online platform that enables users to improve their homes with DIY. It’s basically a DIY community with an active DIY forum. There are more than 100K user-generated tutorials on the site for home and garden projects across 17 categories. It’s where people empower and teach one another how to make their homes better by spending less.
In Hometalk, you can find tutorials for building, organizing, repairing, upcycling, cleaning, painting, decorating and furnishing items. Every aspect of DIY that you can do for home improvement and interior decoration have tutorials in here. You can search for tutorials, both written and video, for free. You can easily browse new projects and ask/answer DIY questions from the community. There are DIY tutorials for members of all levels, from serious DIY projects to simple arts and crafts.
Hometalk happened almost by accident. Yaron Ben-Shaul, the company’s CEO and founder, owned Networx, which is a lead-generation business for home contractors. Hometalk was simply a side project that enabled contractors to generate more engagement (and potential new customers) by posting photos and videos of their work. However, contractors weren’t interested; instead, it was the homeowners who shared genuine interest in DIY. It was them who shared their projects and experiences with one another. Now, there are two groups of contributors: homeowners who share and help others based on experience, and bloggers and professionals who help but also do it as a content marketing strategy.
When talking about Hometalk, Houzz is often always mentioned, because both are Israeli-founded home improvement platforms. However, the two are very different. Hometalk offers tips and suggestions to improve your house using do-it-yourself methods, while house offers ideas through product recommendation. In Hometalk, you connect with fellow DIYers from the community, while in Houzz, you connect specifically with home professionals. Houzz shows you what you can buy, but Hometalk shows you what you can make.
3. The Spruce
The Spruce is a go-to resource for home improvement, offering practical tips, guides and inspiration to help homeowners create the house they love. While providing inspirations, it also provides specific, how-to advices so readers would know exactly what to do. The Spruce helps users to envision their projects clearly. It’s not just a site where you can get ideas, it’s also a site where you’d learn how to get it done.
The site offers informative articles about tips for retiling the bathroom to growing their garden to updating their décor and adopting a specific interior decorating style. The spruce has a library of more than 14,000 pieces of content that can help you spruce up your home. You can search up content from its major categories, such as: home design, home repair and renovating, celebrations, outdoors and gardening, and cleaning and organizing. Whatever home improvement project you want to deal with, The Spruce can provide help.
The user interface of The Spruce is simple, clean and modern, making it easy on the eyes. It provides just the right amount of information you need about a specific topic. And when you read an article from The Spruce, you can be sure the info is legit because their expert writers have backgrounds and expertise in their own topics, including landscapers, gardening experts, contractors, home remodelers and party planners.
Owned by Dotash (formerly known as About.com), The Spruce is part of The Spruce family of sites that includes The Spruce Eats, The Spruce Pets and The Spruce Crafts. The Spruce is also one of the top 10 largest lifestyle properties online.
The first true multi-platform media brand and the number one multimedia home enthusiast brand, This Old House (TOH) not just has a website on its name. It also has a long-time running TV show on PBS, and a magazine with a circulation of 800,000. The website itself has 4 million unique monthly visitors, and TOH has 30,000 members who pay $95 a year for insider access. Like most people today, you probably remember your dad watching Bob Vila on The Old House when you were growing up.
The TOH site is full of inspirations, ideas and guide for restoration of old houses and home improvement projects of all sorts. Click the “Ideas” tab and you’ll be presented with project inspirations, suggestions and guides for remodeling, repairing, adding, renovating or simply enhancing the house. It also offers information about the latest home remodeling products, from paints to tools to drywall and tiles. On the “How To” section, you’d be provided step-by-step instructions for all kinds of home improvement jobs, both indoors and outdoors.
From the TOH site, you can also access its spinoff site, “New Yankee Workshop,” which provides tutorials for furniture making in a PDF files for a fee. This also has a TV show on PBS hosted by Norm Abram, who is a legendary woodworker. It also offers a spinoff site focused on millennials, which is called “House One.” This site provides easy DIY projects and inspirations that are perfect for millennial homeowners. The interface of the site is pretty minimalistic too, which is relaxing for millennials’ eyes.
This Old House started as a one-time TV series on PBS Boston in 1979, but has grown into the most popular programs in the network. From there, it branched out to magazines and websites.
HGTV, which stands for “Home and Garden Television” is a basic cable and satellite TV channel that focuses mostly about home improvement, renovation and real estate. The site provides related content that is all about the home. The site offers articles that offer advice for design and decoration through editorial-style form of writing, and every article is packed with ideas and helpful opinions from home improvement professionals. Most articles here are in the form of gallery-style, to give you time to absorb each idea better. The site provides original content blended with TV content.
The HGTV site provides links to its TV programs on the “Shows” category, as well as instructional and informative videos from how-tos and tips at the “Videos” category. If you’re looking for design inspirations, go to “Design & Decorate.” Get remodeling guides and tips from “Remodel” section, and get inspiration from the “Photo Inspiration” tab. The site also provides a lot of helpful budget decorating tips for the budget-conscious.
HGTV is owned by Discovery, Inc., and this channel is launched all throughout different parts of the world. The programming started in 1994 when it was launched by the E.W Scripps Company. Stream the latest episodes online via watch.hgtv.com.
6. DIY Network
If you’re hooked in all things DIY, the DIY Network is the site to explore. Like HGTV, this is also a cable network owned by Scripps that offers content that came from TV content. The site and the programs of the network, unlike HGTV, focuses on the DIY aspect of home improvement and renovation. This is your goldmine for project ideas that are tried and tested by pros. It’s best for finding practical advices and finding projects by budget.
The DIY Network offers personality-based, documentary-style reality series about home repair, improvement and renovation. Some of these content can be found on the site, especially from video clips and links to the TV programs. It also gives you an insider information about their TV personalities and famous DIYers who are part of the team.
The essence of the site is in its “How-To” section. Here, you can find thousands of DIY tutorials for making and decorating, maintenance and repair, as well as what to do with rooms and spaces, and your outdoor areas. There are also articles that impart wisdom for gaining important home DIY skills such as handling tools, carpentry, masonry, painting and the like. DIY targets mostly the male audience while HGTV attracts more female, but both channels have program offerings that appeal to both.
DIY Network was launched following the success of HGTV. Originally, the network offered broadband content to create demand and help cable operators to launch their broadband services. It first got its domain DIYnet.com, and has since been changed to DIYnetwork.com.
If you love Pinterest and you are interested in all things home and design-inspired, you will enjoy Dwelling Gawker. Dwelling Gawker is a curated photo gallery that allows visual search and discovery of interior design ideas for your home or work space. The photos featured in this site are from design and architecture bloggers from around the world, which redirects to the original blog posts, websites and articles.
The platform is pretty simple – it’s basically a compilation. You can search for inspiration, share your own decorating or remodeling project, and “favorite” posted content. You can streamline your search by picking any of the 30 categories, or by looking at the latest, most favorited and most gawked photos.
Exploring Dwelling Gawker is very easy as well. Hover over any photo to reveal the post title, then click on the photo to open the submitter’s blog post/website/article that refers to the photo. This will open it in a new tab. You can click on the magnifying glass icon or the post number to open the permalink page of the post. This will reveal categories and tags, and can let you report an issue. At the bottom part, you’d see a caption, and the number of times the post is favorited and viewed. It doesn’t offer community forums like Houzz and Hometalk, but it can surely give you a lot of inspiration for the project you’re planning.
Dwelling Gawker is one of the curated photo gallery websites of San Francisco-based Gawkerverse. Aside from Dwelling Gawker which focuses on home/office design and architecture, they also have sites for other interests like food and drinks, arts and crafts, style and fashion, and also weddings.