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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
12 views Dec 04, 2017
The Emperor’s Chair  

The Emporer’s Chair

9 Dragons on Emperor readyclickandgo travel

His short legs were dangling from the chair like ripe cherries ready to drop, making him look like a naughty child punished by sitting on a high chair but still wriggling about. His left arm was comfortably spread on the square table made of the same wood as the horse-shoe backed armchair – reddish-brown, worn out, but very pleasing on the eye. Sitting comfortably high above all of us he displayed all the mannerisms of the Emperor proudly sitting on his throne. Except the high chairs and table barely fitted into the small space that housed lounge, kitchen and bedroom all together. Tim, my loyal guide, and I were sitting on very low and uncomfortable stools, staring at the Emperor like a pair of eager-to-please courtiers, hanging on every single syllable. The Emperor was making sounds but I didn’t speak any Chinese. For Tim the Emperor was making sense, talking about his life before he retired to the hutongs in Beijing instead of one of the high-rise flats scattered around the city. The squat houses lining the busy street somewhere in the hutongs area of Beijing all feature one outside window and one door. Once inside the establishment and under the impression that you are entering one household, the natural light and greenery of the courtyard challenge your expectations. You are entering a fortified dwelling in the centre of Beijing where few families are squeezed into a small space within the rectangular configuration. Those dwellings are mainly built  of brick and plastered with cement for protection in the long and cold Beijing winter, but in some parts of the houses, the oldest parts, you can see mud used as a building material. From the main street the houses all look the same to me and I would probably get lost here while venturing out to get a newspaper or on the occasional night out. The main colour of the street is grey, broken by a gust of gold coming from the random basswood trees.  The street is so dynamic even though there are not many shops around and if it were not for so many people around, one might mistake it for an affluent area of Beijing. The Emperor, sensing my doubts about his abode in this part of Beijing, reinforced his decision to move here, in the hutongs, where chickens would cross the paths of fast paced rickshaws, commented on the fresh air of the courtyard which was, I must admit, in short supply all around China. Mrs Chu, a humble and gracious lady, was carefully listening to the conversation while making tea, but without any desire to join in.  I was worrying how I would cope with her best porcelain without making a fool of myself, when she, as a great host, pulled a smaller table of lesser quality and placed it in front of Tim and me. She sat alongside her husband and my wondering mind could see them wrapped in deep yellow, almost golden, robes covered in dragons, nine preferably to fit the Emperor's status, mimicking Yongle and his wife, Anne. I couldn’t remember the Emperor Yongle wife's full Chinese name as there are too many consonants and my little brain can’t put them in the right order. And her name Anne was given to her after she converted to Catholicism. Could Mrs Chu's secret name be Anne? I looked at her again with the biggest smile I could produce without showing the shiny plate inserted in my gum holding a few teeth together, courtesy of extreme pub-hopping around London. “No. She is too obedient and dedicated to her Emperor to convert.” Before tasting the tea, I obeyed all the unwritten rules – I sniffed it tenderly with my left hand holding the bottom of the cup, lifted it to Mr Chu first and then to Mrs Chu, thanking them for their kind hospitality. The Longjing tea, the best in the country, produced in the tea capital of China, Hangzhou, and bought at the local shop, tasted sumptuous. “How old is this?” Devilishly smiling, Mr Chu tapped the table with his short finger. I had seen those tables in the Forbidden City where the guide would make a point of saying they were not antiques but fake. With the Cultural Revolution everything was gone. Where? He didn’t know. “No nails or glue.” the Emperor added proudly. “And it’s from tree grown on the Hainan Island.” translated Tim. The only thing I could remember from the tropical island of China, Hainan Island, was the overcrowded beaches with people offering live crocodiles for souvenir photos.  Not trees! And my knowledge of Chinese antiques was based on a few trips to Panjiayuan market in Beijing where the artefacts spread on newspaper in the street looked the same as the multi-million exhibits shown in glossy Sotheby's brochures. I was hoping to see original antiques in palaces across the country but instead I was finding empty rooms with bare walls and the occasional modern piece of furniture. The inventory at the tea room in Chengdu looked the same as the table and chairs Mr and Mrs Chu were using. Considering there was no protection on the surface of the table, like a cloth or tray to put the hot teapot on, I guessed that the wood, even though it looked so nice, wasn’t that old. “The table must be younger then you.” And the corner of his lips, tightly closed until now, opened up showing teeth in a variety of yellow hues. I felt stupid. Tim took his jacket off and started translating very fast. “Ming Dynasty, 300 to 350 years old.  Mr Chu was working as architect in 1925 and was given a table and two chairs as a token for the good work he did preparing the city for its opening to the public for the first time.” “Is the teapot from the Ming Dynasty too?” “Oh no, no, no…we got it from our daughter for our wedding anniversary.”