Planning your dream home can be a difficult task. It’s not something you learned in school and there’s certainly no simple formula. Unless you’ve worked in the industry, you probably don’t even know what it all entails. There are so many facets to a home, from the building itself (number of rooms, size, architecture), to its contents (the color of the couch, the finish on the kitchen faucet, the pictures on the living room wall), and you want them all to be just right.

Luckily, you’re not the only one looking to create a beautiful home for themselves. Many tools have been developed by and for people planning dream homes to make the process a little easier. One of our favorites is Houzz.

What is Houzz?

Houzz is an all-in-one home design, planning, and shopping platform. Think Pinterest meets Angie’s List meets Home Depot and Ikea. It has a large library of images from homes in a myriad of styles that, like Pinterest, is added to by users and offers them the ability to save images to an ideabook associated with their account. Also like Pinterest, it has “buyable” posts that link to an online store associated with the pictured product.

Houzz also has an extensive database of professional homebuilders, general contractors, interior designers, architects, cleaning services, plumbers–any type of service that a home might need, they have listings of pros who do it. And when we say extensive, we mean extensive; the site serves 15 countries and has listings for nearly every city in each of them, including Grand Rapids, with over 22,000 professionals listed in the area alone! Users are able to search for service providers by type of service and location, as well as read reviews, view portfolio images, and find contact information for each service provider.

That’s not all. Houzz is also an online home goods store that has fixtures, appliances, lighting, cabinetry, decor, building materials, furniture, and so much more. It’s a home-centered marketplace, unlike the retailers that we’re accustomed to, which sell construction and building supplies, but not coffee tables and throw pillows (Home Depot, Lowes, etc.), or which sell couches and area rugs, but not 2x4s or drawer pulls (Art Van, Gardner White, and so on). Houzz has all of it, in one place.

Using Houzz to Plan Your Home

Get Inspired

Get off of Pinterest (a third of those links are dead anyway) and stop watching shows about tiny houses. Instead, use Houzz’s photo gallery to look for images of homes that fit your aesthetic. It’s easy to filter by style, room, size, budget, color, layout, or whatever you please. Save images you like to your ideabooks to help you visualize what your home will look like.

It could be that an image leads you to the interior designer or home builder who created the look that you love, or it could just be a good place to start talking about how you want your home to look with the home pro that you hire. Chances are that you’re not designing a home on your own, there’s likely a spouse, kids, or family who will also have input. Images can help them understand your vision and help them demonstrate their own.

Plus, Houzz has a Stories & Advice section that has some useful information on all topics home-related in the form of guides, forums, and video. Ever wish you could combine Martha Stewart Living with HGTV and make it interactive? This is where you can do that.

Get Help

HGTV might make it seem easy to design, build, and furnish your own home, but it’s not always that simple. Whether you’re building a new custom home or renovating an old one, you’re going to want to hire a professional. Your home is important. It’s where you live and make memories, and if it doesn’t turn out exactly as you had hoped, you’ll have to live with it. In the age of the online reviews, recommendations from family and friends, and Google searches for “Builders in GR,” they simply don’t get the job done quite like Houzz.

Houzz lets you see photos of previous work, reviews from other users, service areas, FAQs, and more. You can follow pros that you’re interested in and contact them right from the Houzz site. Sure, you could go the Google route, poring over websites from everyone in a fifty-mile radius, but Houzz allows you to do it a little more conveniently, on a platform to which you’re already accustomed.

Get Organized

Homes need stuff, a lot of stuff: flooring, countertops, cabinets, sinks, doors, handles, chairs, tables, rugs, linens, faucets–and that’s just in the kitchen. If you’ve already used Houzz to find design inspiration and service professionals, you’re probably already sold on using it to find the materials you need to turn your house into your house.

Again, it’s a convenience thing. You don’t have to go to six different websites to buy fifteen different things online, you can do it all on Houzz. The selection is huge, searching is easy, and they’ve got many popular name brand products like Moen kitchen and bath fixtures or Cuisinart kitchen appliances.

Creating the perfect home is a complicated project, but it’s also very important. Anything that streamlines the process can help in a major way, and a platform like Houzz, which combines design inspiration, contractor research, and a one-stop-shop for home necessities, is a great tool for planning your forever home and bringing that plan into reality. Download our guide below for even more information on how to design your dream home with Houzz!