Smartphone apps for home improvement

Illustration by Holly Lindem
Date:25 September 2013 Tags:, , , ,

For today’s handy homeowner, a well-designed smartphone app can be as essential as a hammer and a box of nails. Still, like hand tools, some apps are total clunkers that waste more time than they save. I dug into more than 50 applications created to help DIYers design, renovate, automate and maintain their homes and gardens. After all the testing was complete, I deleted the duds. Here are the ones that I kept on my phone. By David Agrell

1. Get inspired

If you’re planning to remodel, it’s not enough to have a vague idea of how you want the results to look. You need concrete examples to crystallise your plans and communicate your ideas. Before renovating our home, my wife and I relied on the Houzz Interior Design Ideas free app (iPhone/Android) for tips.

It features more than 1,5 million images of swanky interiors, all curated by design professionals, editors and savvy homeowners. It’s like having access to a massive scrapbook. Its true power, though, comes from the roughly 10 million monthly users, who tag photos with descriptions, comments and questions to create a highly searchable index. Want to know how a dark-coloured hardwood floor looks against stark white cabinets? Simply search those terms and then browse hundreds of real-life examples. Clip images you like to a custom album, called an Ideabook. Thanks to Houzz’s social integration, my wife and I could join conversations about countertop materials and tap designs.

For the complete list set of apps, get your hands on PM’s October 2013 issue – on sale 23 September.