Avoid the Pitfalls of Pinterest (and Other Photo-Sharing Sites)
The first step to getting real value from these sites is to understand their strengths and weaknesses (hint: think home inspiration!)
Many of our custom home clients love photo-sharing sites like Pinterest, and those sites can be a big help when searching for design and product ideas (Check out some of Winsome’s curated boards here!). However, they can also lead to frustration and disappointment. The result you get depends on how you use the sites and what your expectations for these sites are.
We want the designing and homebuilding process to be as enjoyable and joyful as possible. We never want you to feel disappointed. With that in mind, we’d like to offer advice on how to get the most from these sites, what to expect from them, how your builder and interior designer can help, and what the pitfalls of using photo-sharing sites are.
The main thing to understand is that images seen online are best used as sources of inspiration. Period. There is no guarantee that the selections in the images can be sourced, that they will fit your budget, have a warranty, or will even fit.
Let’s say that you find photos of a home with a unique steel entry door. Your next step should be to show the inspiration photos to your builder so you can work together to find something as similar as possible that also satisfies the builder’s quality and warranty standards. After all, those standards are why you hired them in the first place. A quality home builder and designer can find something that meets your requirements and may even find something that you like more than the original inspiration.
What these sites are not suited for is product sourcing. That can be a surprise to some.
The surprise is understandable. In a retail world dominated by Amazon, we’ve come to expect that we can click on a product and have it show up at our house a few days later. It will have an attractive price and is easily returned if it doesn’t suit us. We’ve internalized these expectations.
But things aren’t that simple when making selections for a new house. Products that you see on photo-sharing sites such as Pinterest or Instagram—or on Amazon, for that matter—tend to have issues that make them inappropriate. The main issues are budget and warranty which, unsurprisingly, are closely linked.
On Pinterest and the like, it’s easy to find pictures of beautiful interior designs with unique products, but those products seldom have costs attached. You can look around online for a cost, but if you find one it probably won’t be reliable. Interior designers can help find something similar and may even be able to identify the item, but simply identifying the product is only fixing one unknown in the equation- there are still the questions of price, quality, availability, and size.
Consider that steel door again. Let’s say you do some digging and find the one in the picture for a list price of $2,500. If you bring it to your builder, you might be told that their supplier doesn’t sell that model but that they can get a similar design and color for an installed price of $5,000.
You may question why you need to purchase from that supplier. The answer is simple: builders who care about their reputations and their clients only work with vendors who offer proven products, solid warranties, and reliable after-sale service. Unproven products from unfamiliar companies pose risks for everyone.
As professional builders, we need to be able to stand behind everything that goes into your new home. That means we have to be very picky about what we buy and from who we purchase it.
The truth is that the ability to find pricing data online is a double-edged sword. When people get emotionally attached to a product, they often avoid information that might dissuade them.
They may not correlate its price to its quality and warranty and may not scrutinize the seller. It can also be harder to come to terms with a higher price because the first price people see can become the price they anchor to. So, even if that $5,000 price is a comparative market price, it feels high compared to the first number we saw: $2,500. To learn more about mental anchoring, check out this article.
So, to ensure an enjoyable selection process with no regrets, use the internet wisely. Set your expectations and goals, and ensure they are realistic. Collect photos of designs and products you love. Get excited about them. Then sit down with your builder and interior designer and work together to find great products that give you the same good feeling and will provide reliable service for years to come. Working with a professional team will ensure a cohesive feel throughout the house, safe and comfortable layouts, and quality brands that will last for years.
Winsome Construction is a custom luxury home builder, crafting high-performance homes throughout Portland, Salem, Bend, the Willamette Valley, and the North Oregon Coast. We invite you to stay connected with us by subscribing to our monthly newsletter (enter your name and email below) or calling us today at 503-472-7402.
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