Discover Your Design Preference: Create a Houzz Idea Board

One of the best ways to discover your personal design aesthetic is to explore images of living spaces. Most people know what they like when they see it, be it color, floor or counter materials, the layout or theme of a room, or a specific architectural design style, but many don’t know quite how to put these preferences into words. Pictures are an ideal way to share with your designer exactly what you like – and what you don’t.

“I love Houzz Idea Boards,” enthuses Harrell Designer, Divya Vijayanandakumar. “Pictures speak volumes. They expose clients to different ideas, which in turn helps them articulate their design aesthetic as well as narrow down and assist in translating preferred style, materials, fixtures, and color.”

If you’ve never been to, this website focuses on all things residential. From specific design styles, room design and remodels, lighting, fixtures, window coverings, materials, you name it and Houzz has it. Their Idea Boards provide a way for homeowners to explore, save, and share images and comments with their designers. This is a much more efficient and effective way to gather all your images in one place (versus sending images via email or text to your remodel team members) to provide visual context to your remodel preferences.

If you’ve never created a Houzz Idea Board, it’s simple.

  1. Go to, create an account, and sign in
  2. In the top right corner, click on Your House
  3. Choose Idea Books
  4. Click Create a Book – here you can name your book (Kitchen remodel for example) and add a description if desired
  5. Save your Book – be sure to leave the Make Idea Book private option off to enable sharing
  6. Once saved, you’ll see a pop-up window asking you to share your Book with others using their email addresses. This can be especially helpful for your designer, Design + Build firm, contractor, etc.

You can create as many or as few Idea Books as you’d like. If you are undergoing a whole home remodel, you may want to create separate books for your kitchen, Master Suite and Bath, Living and/or Family Rooms, and Outdoor areas. This allows you to place images into each that pertain to specific living spaces. In a Kitchen Idea Book, for example, you may include images on cabinet styles and colors, countertop materials, islands, fixtures, lighting, flooring and more.

How to Add Images to an Idea Book

Adding images to an Idea Book is simple. Log into your Houz account, open the applicable Book and choose Add Images. You can search the almost endless array of photos on Houzz by typing in search terms, or choosing a starting point recommended by Houzz. You can also upload images from your computer if you have photos from, say, a model home, magazines, or a friend’s residence that you’d like to include in your Book. To do so, click the small upload file icon in the left-hand corner below the green Invite button.

Houzz also provides helpful filters to narrow down the types of images. This is helpful if you know you like farmhouse style kitchens, for example. But for many, starting with a broader search may unearth styles, products, and ideas they wouldn’t have known to explore.

To save an image, click on the Save Photo icon on the image. Ensure it will be saved in the appropriate Idea Book. Be sure to add comments about what you like in that photo.

Says Divya, “It is especially helpful when clients specify what it is they like about each image. Most pictures have a lot of components so telling us you love the cabinet style but not the color allows us to better understand and narrow down your preferences and exactly what it is you like.”

Once you’ve created and shared an Idea Board, you can continue to update it, adding more images, even deleting ones you’ve previously saved, and your designer will instantly have access to whatever changes you’ve made.

A picture really is worth a thousand words. A huge part of the thrill of a remodel is unearthing your distinct design style. Houzz Idea Boards are an excellent way to explore and discover what moves you as well as to communicate and share these preferences with your Design + Build team.

Harrell Design + Build has been designing and remodeling distinctive homes since 1985. A full-service, 100% employee-owned design and construction company, Harrell a single point of contact, a proven process, and award-winning design. We invite you to stop by our Design Center in Palo Alto or schedule an appointment to discuss your home improvement project with one of our amazing designers.

Having created over fifty compelling interiors in both India and the Bay Area, Divya Vijayanandakumar brings a wealth of design experience to Harrell Design + Build Born and raised in Chennai, India, the most significant cultural, economic and educational center of south India, Divya initially pursued Computer Science but after graduating with a Bachelor’s degree, she did a career about-face, deciding to come to Silicon Valley in 2004 to attend West Valley College, where she achieved her AA degree in Interior Design.

After working in a residential firm as a Junior Designer and then moving to a commercial firm as a Senior Interior Designer contributing her talents to large-scale office buildings as well as healthcare and educational facilities, Divya moved back to India in 2011. She spent a few years working at a high-end residential design firm before launching her own residential and commercial Design + Build company, The Plan-D, whose award-winning designs were featured in none other than Vogue Magazine.

Once again, the Bay Area called and Divya answered, relocating once again to Silicon Valley and joining Harrell Design + Build in May 2019 as one of our Designers. Divya brings with her a keen eye for design aesthetics along with a deep-rooted understanding of field work, project management, and entrepreneurship.

A LEED Accredited Professional in Building Design and Construction, Divya also has her Evidence Based Design certification and accreditation. She is driven by creating a sense of function and beauty by understanding the deepest wants and needs of her clients. She fully believes that that grade of work you offer the world reflects that strength of respect you have for yourself, and lives by this credo through her integrity, professionalism, patience, and empathy.