In 2009, when Adi Tatarko and Alon Cohen got the keys to their own home, a four-bedroom period ranch house dating to the 1950s, they were elated. They immediately set about the fun part – decorating the house. While Alon preferred spartan and contemporary interiors with muted shades, Adi liked a burst of colour.
However, finding a designer who could translate these preferences into a seamlessly melded and pleasing whole proved to be an arduous task. Frustrated, Adi, who is a tech industry professional, set up a scrapbook-like site to collect design inspirations from various architects.
That’s how Houzz began.
What is Houzz?
From its beginnings as a personal home improvement project to being valued at approximately US$ 4 billion today, Houzz has scaled the mountain of startups at breakneck speed. How did Houzz reach dizzying heights in such a short span of time?
Houzz acts as a platform that brings together everything house under one roof. People can browse through the many designs on display put up by professionals, pick their favourite ones, and interact with experts. Finally, they can seek out home building professionals from plumbers and carpenters to architects and designers to help them materialise their ideas. Users are also allowed to put up pictures of house remodels, accessories, and other products.
Today, nearly a decade since its inception, Houzz continues to shape home decor trends across the world.
A trendsetter who does not set trends
Houzz’s Pinterest-like format is a blessing for harried new homeowners who are bursting with ideas and have visions of their perfect homes. But Houzz is not limited to just first time homebuyers who are new to the space (pun not intended). Alon Cohen estimates that 71% of their website users are looking to revamp their homes.
Houzz is able to ‘speak’ to both sides of the spectrum because of their detailed and personalised approach. Adi Tatarko tells the BBC that they are not trying to set trends as much as bring the latest ones in front of their audience.
“I’m not going to try to tell you: ‘Hey look, orange is the colour of the year – I love orange by the way. But we will look at the thousands of new projects that we get every week… go and talk to as many professionals as possible and then give this data back to the community,” she says.
Having said that, it’s undeniable that Houzz does impact home decor trends. Its unique cross-pollination of ideas from all over the world has opened up previously local preferences to a global audience. People want their homes to be as different and unique as possible, and there’s no better way than being one of the first to catch the latest trends. That’s why it’s no longer surprising to see richly coloured Rajasthani style mirrors in UK homes or a Tibetan inspired mandala design in the US.
Easy to use and customised recommendations
Houzz as a platform is very user-friendly, attractive, and instinctive thanks to its algorithms. Each home page is customised to the general outlook and requirements of the region’s demographic. Houzz tailors the products that appear in the “related products” section to the person who is browsing.
According to Cohen, while many people do end up buying the product they are looking for, at least 68% of people add to their purchases of the products that are recommended.
Add to this, the Houzz app (it won the ‘best app’ prize at the Google Play awards in 2016) allows potential customers to visualise their rooms. Allowing people to see what their rooms will look like with the various products on offer not only drives purchases but also the way homes are being set up.
This gives people the leeway to be more thoughtful, discouraging undecided purchases that sometimes turn out to be disastrous. The result? Beautiful, well-organised spaces and a home to show off.
Influencing designers who influence home decor trends
Houzz partners with design professionals to create products according to the demand. For designers, Houzz has acted as a powerful medium to showcase their work. But above all, it is a great enabler that allows them to put a finger on the pulse of customer mindset at all times.
This has immensely reshaped the quality, practicality, and type of products that make their way into homes, which in turn has inevitably impacted home decor trends.
In 2017, Houzz entered India and within a short span of time had already garnered over one million users. Houzz has been riding high on the residential real estate boom in India and the growing interest in personalised home decor. Indians are also more conscious today about the kind of style that they want to portray through their homes.
“The truth is, we really enjoy working and building things together,” Tatarko tells Business Insider referring to her husband.
This feeling of togetherness and community is what Tatarko and Cohen have infused into the home decor space as well. Everything is an open plan.