Tag Archives: Fixer Upper

Best Websites for Home Renovations

By Tracey Dowdy

If you’ve ever looked around your house and thought, “This space would be so much more functional without that wall,” or, “This tiny bedroom is perfect for my dream closet,” you’re not alone. Homeowners and landlords in the U.S. spent $424 billion on home improvements in 2017, according to Improving America’s Housing 2019, a Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies analysis of government data. The survey draws from the Census Bureau’s American Housing Survey, which measures the number of households planning home renovations and their associated costs. (American Housing Survey data for 2018 and 2019 isn’t yet available.)

America’s favorite renovations aren’t massive renovations like you see on shows like Fixer Upper, but minor improvements that make a big impact — like replacing floors or fixtures. These simple changes often boost the home’s resale value for those planning to flip or move on. There’s a lot to consider before tackling a home improvement project, and it’s wise to think through potential problems before you start. 

These websites can help you get a better perspective on the scope of the project, how much it could cost, and what the finished product will look like. 

Porch’s slogan is “Love your home. For moving and improving and everything in between.” From the home page, you can search for anything from contractors, plumbers, or a handyman to pool installation or carpet stretching by your zip code, get quotes from movers, and see popular projects in your area. That’s a particularly handy feature if you’re looking to see what others in your neighborhood with the same style home or floor plan have done. For jobs Porch doesn’t do, they’ll even get you quotes from independent professionals in the area.

Long before Fixer Upper and Property Brothers, there was Bob Vila’s This Old House. You can search for projects A – Z – well, A – Y – attics to yards, watch step by step instructional videos, be inspired by Project or Idea Houses, or become an Insider with access to commercial-free streaming of over 1,000 episodes, opportunities to meet the cast, participate in live online Q&As with TOH experts, and access special deals and discounts.

DIY Network is the home of “I don’t have the budget for a contractor and want to try it myself,” offering practical advice and helping you plan your projects by budget. Get your inspiration from TV shows, Editors Picks, or search the archives for specific projects. 

From the network that introduced us all to shiplap, HGTV Remodels is perfect for figuring out what’s actually doable as opposed to the projects that will send you and your partner to couples therapy or bankruptcy court. With ideas ranging from how to update your fireplace or home technology to choosing a new addition’s foundation, it’s a one-stop-shop. 

Houzz.com is your go-to for inspiration whether you’re contemplating big changes like a full kitchen remodel or little changes like deciding which paint color is best for your tiny powder room.  With hundreds of photos and examples from other DIY-ers, you can see examples, shop for products, and contact local professionals who can help you get started and see you through to the end.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

Use AR for Your Online Shopping

By Tracey Dowdy

Today in “Been around for a while but just popped up on my radar” news, I was reminded of Amazon’s AR View which allows Android and iOS users to view products in your home before you buy them. 

I’ve recently started a kitchen/family room renovation, and the option to see whether or not that island or cabinet will fit or overwhelm a space before I buy is very appealing. So, I started doing a little research and it turns out they’re not the only – nor were they the first – to add AR to their online shopping features. IKEA and Wayfair were among the first to use AR for furniture and home goods retailing to realize that letting consumers place and manipulate catalog items at scale in their homes without having to first purchase the item was a ticket to bigger sales. 

It’s not just furniture. Sephora offers magic mirrors in both their retail stores and their mobile app to help customers visualize what different colors and make-up treatments will look like on them. L’Oreal, Cover Girl, and others also saw AR’s potential and jumped in with their own versions.

Ikea’s Ikea Place app allows shoppers to virtually place Ikea furniture within their home, checking for fit in color, look, size and more. Perhaps most impressive is that the app scales furniture size with 98% accuracy, so you can feel confident the item really will fit in the space and not have to fear roaming an actual Ikea trying to follow the arrows to escape. Here’s to your relationship surviving assembling that flat pack – for that you’re on your own.

Lowe’s lets customers shop their furniture line with the Envisioned by Mine and the Measured by Lowe’s apps, which turns your phone camera into a virtual measuring stick to measure the dimensions of floors, walls, and other items, making it easy to shop for furniture online and in-store.

Perhaps the universe’s greatest gift to home renovation is Dulux’s Visualizer App lets you pick a color from anywhere and see the colors live in your living space. Save the image as a video or photo which you can then share with your family and friends for that always important second opinion. 

Not every retailer has AR native to their apps or websites, but as the old iPhone commercial says, there’s an app for that.  The Amikasa app invites any furniture seller to upload 3D imagery of their product to be featured on the app and similarly, TapPainter lets users visualize paint colors from several different brands. Users select shades from a color wheel or input a color code from a swatch.

Chip and Joanna Gaines, the couple behind TV’s Fixer Upper and owners of Magnolia Market use Apple’s ARKit to allow shoppers to view their entire product line, everything in store and in stock, from any angle, allowing you to examine the product from above, below, or around the side.

Stone Crandall, Magnolia’s digital experience manager, says, “Thanks to AR, online shoppers will now have the answers to: How will this piece look in my home? How big is the item in real life? What does the inside look like, or the back? At the end of the day, nothing tops the in-store experience, but AR provides the capabilities for guests to make equally informed buying decisions from afar, at all hours of the day.”

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some shopping to do.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.