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  • 23 Oct 2017
    Our Houzz family in Berlin has grown exponentially in the last year, and the office has grown with it. The original space was already a great reflection of the Houzz culture, with imaginative themed conference rooms and lots of room for both individual and collaborative work. The expansion added new meeting rooms and working space while making sure employees feel like they “come home to the office,” as one Houzzer recently put it.Let’s take a tour of the office, starting with the café.A wall of windows in the kitchen and eating area offers a bright and airy atmosphere for meeting people across all teams, whether over breakfast, catered Friday lunches, birthday celebrations or late-afternoon pick-me-up snacks.What looks like a bright green refrigerator door in the kitchen actually leads to a hidden meeting room, with furniture sourced from a local Berlin bar. The pizza boards on the wall are a nod to our Italian team and Italy’s extensive culinary heritage.Each meeting room has a theme, such as the Deutsche Eiche (German Oak) Room. The astroturf floor, wooden table, and forest-view wallpaper create the sense that your meeting is taking place in the middle of the Black Forest or a magical wood from a Brothers Grimm tale.Next, we have the Games Room, where Houzzers have been known to play a round or two of ping pong during breaks.The Beach Room boasts a surfboard table, a deck-style floor, a bench and even beach towels.The open-plan office beyond is set up perfectly for collaborating, with wide desks set up in groups.In the middle is a couch area for those who think best when they’re a little more relaxed.The Whiskey Room just beyond the desk-area is a throwback to a traditional English study.Houzzers often show off their talents on the working drum set, guitar and keyboard after hours in the Music Room, which also doubles as a spacious meeting area during the workday.A row of polaroids of our team hard at work and play leads to a quiet office area and more creatively themed meeting rooms.The Chinese Room boasts prints of vintage Chinese posters and a wardrobe that echoes traditional lacquered cabinets.Next to it is the Gym Room. Its leather seats and punching bag, faux-brick wall paper and prints encourage Houzzers to be true contenders.The GDR Room is devoted to ostalgie — nostalgia for the vintage style of East Germany — from a classic couch to East German medals, a record player, and of course the requisite orange wallpaper. It is full of vintage finds from flea markets and vintage shops.The office opens out to a balcony with plants, a welcoming bench and an acapulco chair to let Houzzers enjoy a Palm Springs vibe as they look out onto Berlin’s famous TV tower.We hope you enjoyed your tour through our Houzz Berlin home!All images credited to Kate Jordan.
    58 Posted by bossgate
  • 04 Nov 2017
    One of the fascinating ways to explore a country is by driving. The freedom of the open road gives you more possibilities to get to know the country. Right? Not in Serbia! Here is a real rant on driving in Serbia. 1) There are no traffic signs. If you are lucky to find one of them it will take you in the wrong direction or it will have been erected so crookedly you can't work it out. GPS is the way to go. If you find a traffic sign it’s probably going to be in the Cyrillic alphabet and only occasionally in the Roman. Good luck with trying to spell the word out at more than 20 miles an hour. You may see helpful English signs like, Producer of Local Produce. 2) The Serbs are very friendly people – they never let you pay for a drink, are happy to take you around and show you the best part of the country but they turn into Monsters once they are behind the wheel. One place where there is gender equality in Serbia is behind the wheel, in a car the women are bad as men. Nuns included. One overtook us at speed and at great danger to herself and other drivers. It was in the area dubbed “Hilandar of Serbia” as there are 10 monasteries spread over beautiful hills, river and lakes. You would think it’s the perfect place to unwind and find your inner self- not to get killed by a reckless nun!  Her frustration started when we gave way to the car on the other side of a bridge, the nun didn’t beep, but we could hear the engine revving. She didn’t overtake right away because the nice couple passing gave us a nod and a smile which probably enraged her. Maybe she is not used to people being polite. The nun continued to follow us so close I was under impression she wanted to open our boot through her window. The sharp bends and fast traffic didn’t stop her and she overtook on a blind bend and then quickly turned off the main road without indicating and hurtled up to a monastery... 3) During our driving experience in Serbia we never saw the police, although we saw two police cars – one parked in the front of kafana ( national bistro) in Nova Varos. We saw a lot of ambulances struggling to make their way on the overcrowded roads with no one making space for them to pass. They only time we encountered the police was when we crossed the border into Bosnia and the only reason we saw them is because we had been warned back in Belgrade. “Watch your speed limit when you enter Bosnia as there are two policemen, one fat and one short, jumping out of the bushes and issuing fines.” Its seems the whole country is aware of them, the two policemen in Bosnia who still haven't realised that their hiding place is blown!  4) Be aware of the likelihood of being cut up on the roads by really dangerous drivers. I have only one word for them “F***** idiots” or in short FI to be used here. They are hormonal junkies who are betting on you stopping and letting them overtake you, otherwise you will have blood on your hands! The reality is that you have to hit the brakes, and let flow some colourful English language. With some addition of Serbian too. 5) There are motorways but not everywhere. Our visit to the Western Serbia was mainly on roads which would be classified as country lanes in the UK but wider and with fewer potholes. 6) There are speed limits displayed but they are there only to be broken! If you don’t break them you face a barrage of the noisiest car horns, squashed driver faces, swearing, shouting. Be ready. I've never been a fan of Top Gear but after my driving trip in Serbia I feel like I took a part in it! 7) Cars with automatic transmission are still a rarity in Serbia. Driving one on this trip was a life saver! I don’t know if I would have been able to drivea manual car and encounter all the traffic issues we had. Automatic cars are a bit more expensive but they are good value for money on Serbia roads. 8) We saw lorries where they were not supposed to be – on narrow mountains lanes. We saw a testosterone-fueled father with wife and two kids strapped in the back seats, overtaking on a blind bend. We saw tractors holding up traffic for miles. We saw new roads, just built recently, so narrow the local people have to leap out of the way every time a car passes. We drove on a winding road where there was no pulling over spaces, and when we eventually stopped at the first “kafana” the waiter kindly explained that the money for a wider road and resting places finished up in someone's pocket! 9) If you are still thinking of hiring a car and driving around Serbia you will have to be 110% in driving mode and take breaks every hour if you can find somewhere. You need a good passenger to help you navigate not just on the roads but drivers too!  Learn a few swear words in Serbian. They are very useful - and unexpected by those who inspire them. Considering such bad driving and manners we didn't see any accidents. We saw near accidents and we were part of one when on a flat wide empty road. Only quick thinking saved us. 10) While getting lost we would stop to ask for directions. The window would go down, and very helpful males (yes, all our directions were given by males, do not know why, probably they are the ones wondering roads like us) would explain us in great details how to get where we wanted. The information was so very detailed and long that sometimes we wanted just to drive off. When we did eventually we had to ventilate the car from the fumes of alcohol we were given along with the information. Despite all this, Serbia is a beautiful country to visit with unspoiled nature, lovely people, great food and a fascinating history!
    38 Posted by bossgate
  • 23 Oct 2017
    Master bathrooms are getting a style makeover, according to the 2017 U.S. Houzz Bathroom Trends Study,* which found that 90% of renovating homeowners change the style of their master bathroom during upgrades. Of those making a change to the overall style, contemporary (25%), transitional (17%) and modern (15%) lead in popularity. Design decisions vary by generation, with Millennial (25-34) homeowners opting most often for modern style master bathrooms, while contemporary is most popular among Gen-Xers (35-54) and Baby Boomers (55+).White continues to gain popularity in renovated master bathrooms, with even more countertops and walls appearing in white this year (40% and 19%, respectively) compared with 2016 findings. Additionally, bathroom features are increasingly contrasted against gray walls and cabinet surfaces (35% and 14%, respectively, compared with 30% and 9% in 2016, respectively).Millennials are significantly more likely to choose white countertops (52%) and cabinets (50%) and gray walls (48%) and flooring (43%) for their master bath than Baby Boomers. When it comes to wood cabinets, Baby Boomers tend to pick medium tones, while dark wood is preferred by Gen-Xers.Among the 81% of renovating homeowners tackling master showers, ceramic and porcelain tile or natural stone tile and slabs are the top surface materials chosen, with marble being the universally preferred choice for natural stone, especially for Gen-Xers. Other materials see generational biases. For example, travertine is more likely to be installed by Baby Boomers, while slate is preferred by Millennial homeowners.Ceramic or porcelain tile (63%) and natural stone tile or slab (32%) continue to top the flooring list, likely integrating the look of the shower with the rest of the bathroom surfaces. In contrast, these higher end finishes are less likely to appear on walls outside of the shower area, with just 27% choosing ceramic or porcelain tile and 15% opting for natural stone.For more insights from the 2017 U.S. Houzz Bathroom Trends Study, check out the full report here.*Houzz survey of more than 1,200 U.S. homeowners using Houzz who are in the midst of, are planning, or recently completed a master bathroom project, was fielded between June 6 and August 7, 2017.
    36 Posted by bossgate
  • 23 Oct 2017
    Houzz welcomed a talented group of interns to the engineering team at our HQ in Palo Alto this summer. Here is what a few of them had to say about what they learned during their internship and their favorite thing about working at Houzz.Ziran Ling (Back-End Engineer)What I learned: I’ve learned many things from my experience with Houzz, including a new programming language and different aspects of web servers and APIs that I hadn’t been exposed to previously.Favorite thing about Houzz: I really like the working environment. People work closely together here. If you talk with the project leads and show your interest in a project, they will likely let you work on it, which is a great way to learn. You have more opportunities to be exposed to different projects and acquire new skill sets.Theresa Nguy (3D Artist)What I learned: I learned how to use different tools to work on 3D projects, like making dynamic furniture models. My team is very supportive and helps me whenever I have questions.Favorite thing about Houzz: I really enjoy the company culture and focus on teamwork at Houzz. As a recent graduate, the work environment made me feel very comfortable.Wenqin Wang (Growth Engineer)What I learned: I’m working on the growth team as a full-stack web developer to help users get the most out of their Houzz experience. As an intern, I’ve learned a lot about Web development (Javascript, Ajax, http, php), and since growth is very consumer facing, I’ve gained some experience using marketing and design tools. I also now know more about Game of Thrones than I thought possible because our team is so into the show that we often have Q&A sessions about it!Favorite thing about Houzz: People and culture! I definitely love all of the friendly people who offer help, support and happiness. I also love the food (different dinner caterers every day and birthday desserts every Friday), the location (downtown Palo Alto), and our office (it feels very homey, and I wear Houzz slippers every day!).Chang Liu (Front-End Engineer)What I learned: This is my first time working as a front-end engineer in an industry setting. Prior to this, my web projects have been personal ones and small in scope. With that, it’s been a meaningful experience learning how to familiarize myself with and write professional client-side code. Coming into this internship, I had little experience with React and Flux patterns, but I definitely feel comfortable using them now.Favorite thing about Houzz: I think Houzz is the ideal size company for me. It is still growing at a rapid rate, so the scope of the projects we take on are large and ambitious. That, plus the size of the engineering department, really makes you feel like an integral part of the company. It also helps that we receive mentorship from some of the nicest engineers I’ve ever met and work in an aesthetically pleasing office (of course, since Houzz is an interior design platform!).
    35 Posted by bossgate
Lifestyle & Travel 30 views Nov 04, 2017
Britain’s Oldest Belfry 

Cathedral View ReadyClickAndGo

Towe Clock St ALBANS READYCLICKANDGOSt Albans is a medieval yet modern up-market town at the same time with many restaurants and chic shops but a charming history too. “You’ll get there in a jiffy, there are only 93 steps.” said the enthusiastic volunteer helpfully. Considering my age, my cracked knees and rather impaired lung function we got to the top not quite in the jiffy, but she was right about the second bit – there were 93 steps and I counted them all. They were narrow, spiral, with little margin to spare for the wider parts of my body. I had to turn sideways to get round the bends but by the time we got to the top I had forgotten all about my knees, lungs etc - the view was soul-rejuvenating! And with the weather being so nice we could see far into the beautiful Hertfordshire countryside. The Tower Clock  is the only remaining medieval town belfry in England. It was built between 1403 and 1412 as a symbol of parish resistance against the excessive power of the abbot of St Albans, defiantly set on high ground facing the gigantic cathedral tower - looking the Abbey in the eye. The design of the tower was based on the Clock House at Westminster Palace which stood until 1697, and its walls up to 1.22m (4 feet) thick to withstand the ringing of the bell and I am guessing that is the reason why the steps are so narrow.

Bell Tower Closk St Albans ReadyClickAndGo

The tower consists of four floors with the ground floor being a shop until the 20th century, its large window was how the bell was brought inside the building, while the first and second floors were designed as living quarters for the shopkeeper and clock-keeper. The fourth floor is where the original bell is located and that is the most interesting part of the  Clock Tower. The bell is named after the Archangel Gabriel, was cast at Aldgate in London, weighs 1 ton, and rings in F. Gabriel last rang out in 1901 for Queen Victoria's funeral. The original clock was discarded at some point, replaced by a more accurate pendulum mechanism whose heavy iron weights hang down into the chamber below - which must have been rather inconvenient for its occupants. Today’s clock was built by smiths from Clerkenwell in 1866and incorporates four-legged gravity escapement, which was an invention just brought onto the market by Lord Grimthorpe, the same guy who designed Big Ben’s mechanism. The tower clock had different uses throughout the history of St Albans. Its bell rang out for the first battle of St Albans during the Wars of the Roses in 1455. It was used as government semaphore during the Napoleonic Wars. The structure was damaged by 1850 and in 1865 was restored by famous architect Sir Gorge Gilbert Scott who used local flint which can be still seen today. The Tower Clock is owned by the Council and run by volunteers called by 'Clockateers'. It's open from Easter to the end of September between 10.30 and 17.00, entrance is £1 and kids go free. There is so much history, engineering and architecture mixed in such a compact place. The Tower Clock is a must-see sight when in St Albans.
 

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