Inspiration for fall color - Sumac 'Tiger Eyes'

I need to choose tile for our bathroom. Selecting a color palette was easy – soft earth tones. I could even make a quick decision on the material – either porcelain or ceramic since as much as I love natural stone it is more maintenance than I want.

After that comes the hard part – the design. Tiles are available in every size from 1″ to 24″ square as well as rectangular and hexagonal options. The surface can be matte, glossy, smooth or textured. And then there are the accent tiles! Listellos, mosaics, decorative inserts all in multiple size and color options. And how to put them together without making our bathroom look like a circus tent?


So what has this got to do with gardening? Any design process can be overwhelming whether selecting plants or tile. With a seemingly infinite number of plants to choose from where do you start? Where can you go for inspiration?

Books, magazines and blogs are a great starting point and I use them to write notes of my preferences. Of course I then have to make sense of my notes; assuming I can find them weeks later.

I’ve introduced you to Landscaping Network before and find that to be a fast way to pull up lots of options for patios or fire pits for example.

For this project I have found myself turning frequently to the website Houzz (pronounced how-zz)

This is a great way to build up ‘idea books‘, find professional articles and get product information, all for free and from the comfort of your own home.

Looking for ideas for a shade garden? Use the search box at the top of the screen, type shade+garden and select photos to find thousands of high quality images as well as related links. See the screenshot below to give you an idea.

See something you like? You don’t need to sign up simply to browse but to start your own collection of idea books you will. The sign up box is at the top of the page. (Mine says Karen’s Houzz since I am signed in).

Just click or tap on the +idea book sign to add it to your own idea book – either a new one or one you have already started. Incidentally these idea books can be kept private (a great designer-client option) or public which means we all benefit from one another’s research. You can add notes to these images too such as ‘love the orange flowers’ or you can leave a question for the contributor such as ‘what are those orange flowers?’

Regional garden writers submit checklists so that gardeners know what should be done in their gardens that month. Many also write about a Great Design Plant, often one they have firsthand experience of, providing not just cultural information but also design ideas and planting tips.

Since many writers are  designers you can also see some of their projects, read reviews of their work and get in touch with them to discuss your own garden plans!


The only down side is that truthfully I find the website can be frustrating to navigate. It is a huge site and you have to go through multiple loops to find say the regional garden guide for the Mid-West if you use their menus. Houzz knows this and are working on streamlining the site. In the meantime I find the search box works the best for me.

How did I find out about them? A couple of months ago they invited me to be the Pacific Northwest regional garden writer, giving me the opportunity to inspire others, offer practical ideas, introduce you to some of my favorite plants and keep you on track with your garden to-do list. I’ll be writing additional articles from time to time including one on Holiday containers which will publish in time for thanksgiving.

So whether you need tile or trees, check out Houzz today and you’ll be hooked!


houzz interior design ideas

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