Today’s topic, the interior design industry could be dying was inspired by an email I received, just this morning.
Please note that anything you send me, may very well end up being used in a blog post. However, I will protect your anonymity fiercely. My aim is never to embarrass or insult, but to educate both myself and others who find what I have to say, worthwhile.
From The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. That apartment!!! Oh my!
It is funny, well not funny, haha, but serendipitous that I was going to write about a different topic today. But, something was nagging at me, that it wasn’t the right post. And, the second I read this email, I knew what I needed to write about.
You see, the subject of the email I received is how this reader believes that Houzz is going to be the downfall of the interior design industry.
And well… coincidentally, the one year anniversary of “Davida” taking on the giant is tomorrow, the 18th.
Please read what I received from an interior designer somewhere in the USA.
Laurel’s comments are like this.
I read your article on Houzz. This is very bad news and the interior design industry needs to act quickly. Unfortunately this business model is getting more and more common.
Houzz is the “1-800 Flowers” of our industry.
With an 800 number and a website, 1-800 Flowers has managed in the course of a decade, to bankrupt 90% of America’s florists, some of whom had been around for over a century.
Oh my! I did not know that! That’s awful! And I’m afraid that I’ve been a customer of theirs. :[
They started out the same way as Houzz– as a partner that could “help” the florists:
1-800 drop shipped flower arrangements to homes and funerals everywhere. Then, 1-800 contracted with local florists promising them customers BUT continued their own drop shipping service, thereby competing with the florists they were supposedly helping.
As a result, a florist is simply not able to survive unless they partner with 1-800 flowers. And, in so doing, they are obliged to sell flowers dirt cheap, pay 1-800 a commission, while dealing with customers virtually. Sound familiar?
Yes, ‘fraid so.
And, just in case 1-800 didn’t screw it to them right the first time, florists are now forced to honor 1-800 Flower’s satisfaction guarantee and go pick up and return worthless flowers that were not to the customer’s liking; a practice formerly unheard of in the Floral Industry.
That’s crazy. But since most flowers are gifts, I would imagine that doesn’t happen a lot. But, maybe that’s not right?
The problem? Florists were asleep and didn’t modernize their FTD tele-network into an online service.
1-800 Flowers and other smaller operations beat them to it and over time began growing their own flowers making a local florist in today’s market completely irrelevant.
The Interior Design Industry is Next.
I believe that if the industry doesn’t make a move soon, we’ll all be Houzz Corporate Employees by 2025.
A case in point: Did you happen to see the Neil Patrick Harris Houzz episode where he gallantly paid for a remodel of his brother’s den and back yard? It’s on youtube.
Yes, yes. Very nice of him to do that, but you know and I know, Laurel… that it’s all just marketing BS designed to turn people away from the interior design professionals and make new customers out of the unsuspecting public.
It’ll only take a few more Neil Patrick Harris remodels to air on national TV and we will be seen as an expensive, irrelevant middle man. It’s obvious even to the casual observer that the only reason designers were used on that show was because Harris had a movie shoot.
I have a little different take on some of that, but agree that it’s all staged. ALL of the home reno shows are staged.
Well, Laurel, they perfectly demonstrated how easy it is to go on the site, look at ***OUR*** designs and press BUY.
Even the designer herself in the episode referred to Houzz as “the idea book.” And although they did make an earnest effort to show them as integral to the project, they also portrayed some of their ideas and input as “weird” accompanied of course by the appropriate, what’s this freak talking about kind of music.
killer bees And keep listening; the killer bees goes into the idea book spiel. Are you dying, Laurel?
No, I’m not dying, but I did have to make a mad dash for the bathroom.
All the while we are paying THEM to publish OUR professional ideas and furnishings which they then sell and keep all the profits?! Holy screwballs Batman!
Indeed, and it is largely the main point of last year’s post.
As interior design professionals, we should be worried. Very, very worried.
FYI, I made that a nofollow link. wink, wink. For those of you who haven’t read the houzz post, you can read an explanation of the ramifications of a follow vs nofollow link here, if you’re interested.
I was so sick at what a total Houzz commercial it was, that i couldn’t watch the whole thing.
I hear ya, Tom. Since I am writing this, I DID have to watch the entire thing and some parts numerous times.
I’m afraid that our days as working interior designers, are numbered.
Thank you Tom for your thoughts. You are not alone. Not at all.
Okay. This is what I am thinking about all of this.
First of all. While we realize that these shows are all fake and staged, I do think it’s lovely that actors like Neil Patrick, Ashton Kutcher and Kristen Bell have done these make-overs for family members.
And, it IS brilliant marketing on the part of Houzz.
Tearing… I mean tugging at people’s heart-strings if it comes off as sincere, which I think, on the surface this did, is a win for Houzz. It’s a win for NPH and it’s a win for the designers. I’m happy for them. Truly. And I hope that both get GOBS AND GOBS of new work from this exposure. (links to their sites are coming up)
However… in reality, I believe much of what Tom is saying is valid, but I also believe that there’s a huge component missing, which we’ll be getting to.
One thing that bothers me, is that if it were me and I was living in a shithole (forgive me, “fixer-upper”) in the middle of the desert and my little bro that I never lived down to, was a big TV star worth some 40 million AND, who ostensibly paid to have things fixed up for me on national TV, I’d be humiliated. But, maybe he’s used to that. I don’t know. And, maybe he’s not humiliated.
Another issue is… What did they do with big brother while all of this was going on? Lock him up in a closet for four months so as not to ruin the “surprise?”
OF COURSE! It is ALL fantasy, and we love to eat it up.
Hey, I too, LOVE fantasy!
I’m the girl who’s been living under a rock for six years who woke up after two friends mentioned this show and binge watched all 18 episodes of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, this week
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel circa 1958. (I recommend this series, highly. But you do need to be on Amazon Prime.) Did she decorate that fabulous apartment on her own? See how easy it must be to do your own decorating? (eyes rolling) Yes, it’s easy when there’s a set decorator! And, a most brilliant one at that.
However, the designers in the Houzz show, painfully (to me), appear to be little more than props in this fairy tale.
There is no way that is their design, at least not the interior designer, Lisa Samuel. I took a look at her real work in her portfolio. (please click the link to see)
I’m going to go and take a potty break while you’re looking it over.
Well, what do you think? And, I am not talking about styles.
Here’s what I think.
She’s a damned good designer.
However, did she design this room?
Some of the evidence and my observations are as follows:
Please observe the draperies that are about to open to reveal the new backyard.
1. They are silk. There’s no freakin’ way that a designer in *Albuquerque is going to do white silk with that HOT sun AND in a casual bachelor-pad den.
Let’s review what can happen to silk fabric when the hot sun hits it. One of my favorite posts because these are the soul-sucking lessons I learned the hard way. I am here to save you whenever I can.
Oh, and do you remember this terribly cool song from the 80s by Prefab Sprout King of Rock ‘n Roll – hot dog, jumpin’ frog. *Albuquerque?
(Classic English 80s Band. You will like it. I promise)
2. Furthermore, it is obvious that Lisa had nothing to do with this mess. I took a good long look at her portfolio and she IS a qualified pro. But, I am almost 100% pos. this is not her work and here’s how I know.
- The silk drapes are wrinkled and not only are they wrinkled, it is clear that they were folded. No interior designer worth her Clarence House fabric swatches would ever complete an installation with wrinkled draperies. Get a freakin’ steamer! But, you know and I know that the drapes were thrown up there, seconds before this heart-warming scene was shot.
- Then, they are slung through a rod pocket. Lisa would never do that. She would use rings. ALWAYS. She would not have specified a pocket.
- And, what in freak’s name is going on with that hem? This is at 17:00 minutes into the video. No way. NO WAY!!! Horror Show!
- AND, finally, most telling, for me as a pro is the lack of fullness. At a minimum, one panel should be able to stretch all the way across the window if the drapes are to ever be closed. That means the minimum is a fullness of double the width of the window.
These, drapes are clearly not that full. Lisa knows better.
For a window this wide, I would’ve done five widths or 2.5 fullness. These are at max, three widths or 1.5 fullness. That is fine if the draperies are never to close. But, apparently, that is not the case.
Conclusion. Lisa did not do these window treatments. I am wagering that they are ready-made drapes which came from a big box-type store. And, forgive me, but Doogie can well-afford to spring for custom draperies for his handsome big bro. No?
Oh, I could keep going… Like I said, it appears that Lisa and Solange are there as mere, uhhh “window dressing.” (sorry) :] Is this gig going to help them get more work? Yes, but not because of the room. It’s because they are part of a feel-good story between Neil Patrick and his brother.
But… What about Tom’s conclusion that it’s the antics of Houzz that are going to be the downfall of the interior design industry.
Actually, I say, no. But, it’s a cautionary no.
No folks. If the interior design industry crashes and burns, we will have no one to blame but ourselves.
After all, we’ve already survived the advent of the internet. Houzz is annoying, but they aren’t going to bring us down. No, it’s something far more sinister, I fear.
Remember March 13th, 2019?
Here’s a little refresher since that was four whole days ago.
That’s the day that Facebook, instagram et al. were put into a medically induced coma.
Below is a little meme I created on FB which didn’t appear until the following day after things were back up, fully.
hmmmm… 26 likes. Not bad. lol
So, what was going on with the social media giant?
Well, facebook is saying that it’s a “server malfunction” “due to an update.”
And, that might very well be true. Or, at least part of it, or maybe all of it.
God only knows, I understand just how horribly wrong things can go with a website. Most of the time, you guys are blissfully unaware, but every once in a while, some of you have been privy to things going horribly wrong. It’s very rare now because I’m paying some $650 a month to keep this baby afloat.
However, the geeks at FB have back up systems on top of their backup systems… In fact, I’ve had a couple of occasions when our entire internet went down because of a local server issue, BUT Facebook somehow can still get through!
We need to face facts. Facebook has been having a LOT of problems in the last year. Ongoing problems. They are quite serious issues and they do not appear to be going away.
This is my point, if you’re in the interior design industry and even if you’re not, but depend on facebook and/or instagram in any way to help you sustain your business…
The Handwriting is on the Wallpaper. You need to take action and the time is LAST YEAR! You need to protect your business and brand and if you’re depending on instagram and facebook, I feel quite strongly that you’re playing a game of Russian Roulette with your business.
These events, as I see it are like the warning signs one can get before the BIG HEART ATTACK f***ing kills you.
And no, I’m not being overly dramatic. I’m worried about some of you.
So, what’s the solution?
Not houzz, not facebook, not instagram.
Why are you walking away?
Fine, I’m used to it. (sarcastic haha.)
Oh, stop looking at me like I’ve suddenly done a drunken Mrs. Maisel at the Gaslight Lounge right after her dumb-freak-hubby left her. That was fun! Those of you who’ve seen the show know what I’m talking about.
The reason you’re not listening is because they’ve made it tooooooooo EASY for you. You’ve eaten from the forbidden apple AND drunk the social media kool-aid. And now, you’re so drunk on that poison, you can’t see your way out.
The solution for the interior design industry and all website owners is the same as it was last year. This needs to be hanging over your bed.
You tell me that you can’t compete with these social media giants.
Yes, that’s what they want you to believe. But you CAN compete.
To that end, I worked very hard last year penning a guide to explain HOW to get your website up to speed, so that you CAN use it to get more business and not rely on FB, insta and houzz.
Because folks, you need to fully understand and accept. They might not be here one day. And then, what are you going to do? Please observe. Except for pinterest, there are no social media links on my site. Why? Because I want you guys to hang out here. And, I work very hard to make that happen. I explain why this is so crucial to your success in the guide.
I want you to come from facebook and instagram to HERE, never the other way around.
See? Most of you have bought the con. I did too, until I caught on.
Wait, Laurel? Aren’t you also marketing when you plug your guide?
You’re sure darned tootin’ I am! ;] But, there’s a difference. I’m not doing so at the expense of others, in the process. At least, I hope not! And besides, I’m exceedingly proud of all of the digital products I’ve created.
And, you can read on the blogging guide post some nice comments from people who’ve been working the system and gotten some amazing results.
Yes, it is not the low hanging fruit that houzz and other social media is. But, if you can put in the work, it is so worth it and it’s all yours. No one can take it away from you.
Oh, and if you want to get away from your drunk relatives, there’s a webinar I did with Claire Jefford last summer based on the guide.
It was password protected, but I just removed the password, so anyone can watch it now.
That’s a gift to you guys (If you can bear watching it, lol) But, there’s a TON of FREE information in there about how I optimize my website to attract the attention of Google. And, it gets quite technical. But, Claire is great about keeping my racing mind on track. And you get to see me in a tank top! oh gawd.
Oh, this is funny. It’s something that happened at KBIS. Houzz had a HUUUUUUGE booth there.
And, what did Wawa do? (me, is Wawa, in case that’s not clear.)
She walked straight through the entire thing and it was one of the biggest booths in the entire show.
Yes! After writing a raw expose on the antics of houzz, I dared walk straight through their HUGE booth at KBIS.
Well, nobody threw me out. Nobody stared at me and pointed fingers, either. Conversely, some of the perky interns offered to “help me learn more about their company.” Isn’t that a scream?
I gave my sweetest Laurel smile and said a very polite “no thank you” and kept moving… all the while snickering to myself.
Well, there, it is…
However, aside from getting your own website up to snuff, there’s a part II to this issue. And it’s the primary reason that I believe the interior design industry could very well be in trouble.
I got an email from a reader a few days ago; an email from a reader wanting to sue her interior design industry professional; err, her decorator.
to be continued…
WHAT??? You can’t leave us hanging, Laurel!
Yes, actually, I can. :] This post is already well over 3,000 words. ;] But, please be assured that we will address this important topic on Wednesday. It’s the real culprit; not these social media freaks. Just, please don’t let them take advantage of you.
You don’t need them as much as they want you to think that you do.
After all, they’re in it for the money.
Money is what drives everything in business.
I will look forward to hearing your thoughts, but a couple of things, please– respectful comments, only. If you don’t like what I have to say or the way I express myself, that’s fine. If so, please stop reading. Thank you. Problem solved.
And two, please don’t try to guess what part II is about. I mean, in the comments. You can try to guess in your head, of course. Or, you can chatter amongst yourselves, just not here, please.
Thanks so much. I love you all. And, for all of you who celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, please have a joyous one!
Also, do check out all of the great hot sales. Lots of beautiful new things to see this weekend!