Erin Treat of Durango travels a lot, which means when she plans a home improvement project, she has little time to sit down with a decorator or peruse vendors.
But because of Pinterest, Treat said she was able to coordinate projects – including new kitchen lights and floor tiling – by sharing Pins with Sheryl Lock, co-owner of Handcrafted House in Durango.
“In Durango, we have limited access to vendors and design options,” Treat said. “Pinterest refined the search, and it’s a way to communicate.”
Since the advent of Pinterest nearly seven years ago, the image-sharing site has evolved into a simultaneous idea machine, time-waster and, for some, an effective business tool.
“Our business is probably 90 percent online, 10 percent local. Pinterest drives customers to us,” said Jenny Wrenn, co-owner of Mexican Tile Designs in Bayfield. Wrenn and her partner have been in business three years, and Pinterest drives 20 percent of their web traffic.
“We still use Facebook and Instagram and get a sliver of business from them, but neither compare to Pinterest,” Wrenn said.
Throughout Durango, decorators, interior designers and home improvement suppliers who are Pinterest users say the website – a visual mediator between client and consultant – has transformed the project- planning process.
“People will just email us a picture they found and say,‘Can you do this for me?’” Wrenn said.
Visual communication of that sort in an aesthetics-based industry is a growing practice with businesses’ clientele.
Rick Klatt, co-owner of McCormick Tile & Stone, said customers introduced him to Pinterest two years ago, and he’s used it since as a demonstration device.
“We have a big-screen TV in our show room to show clients different colors and designs and allow them to see them in a real-world application,” Klatt said. “It’s a sales tool.”
It’s also a proven path to navigating taste.
“All the time, customers come in with too many ideas or not with any, and you’re narrowing the direction. You can feel a customer out through Pinterest,” Klatt said.
Andrew Pietrack of Colors Inc., a Durango paint supplier and consultant, handles a lot of walk-in customers, particularly at this time of year when cold weather steers them inside to focus on interior decorating. Pietrack sometimes uses his own Pinterest account to share ideas with clients and help them pinpoint and eliminate color schemes.
“In my experience, customers come in and you can tell by what they’re wearing what colors they’re interested in,” he said. “Sometimes you just have to give approval on decisions they’ve already made.”
After Pinterest launched in 2010, it subsequently became the popular subject of studies and commentary as to why the site is addicting, why women are its predominant users (about 71 percent of more than 110 million) and how it can culminate to stress and envy. In 2013, the world learned of “Pinterest stress,” an inferiority complex afflicting account-holding moms who said, in a survey conducted by the “Today” show, they feel belittled when they see other moms post their crafty achievements on Pinterest.
But as a professional mechanism, Pinterest is a “big picture” tool – a virtual collage of color schemes, architectural details and other design elements. Designers say for both themselves and their clientele, clicking on the pins – exploring the website behind them, the methodology of the project, finding specific vendors and how-tos – is beside the point.
“Follow-through of clicks isn’t as important as just having a visual,” said Sheryl Lock, Handcrafted House co-owner. “I had a customer who wanted to redo her bathroom but had no idea how. Houzz and Pinterest let us find common denominators.”
Among local home interior professionals, Houzz is either the runner-up or preferred site to Pinterest. Pins can be misleading and increase guesswork for homeowners. For instance, unlike Pinterest, Houzz always accurately references color numbers.
Houzz also provides more conceptual images – showcasing entire room designs.
The internet and design sites in general have accelerated the planning stage of decorating for local operations.
“When I first started in this business 16 years ago, you got ideas from catalogs,” said Amy Favour of Amy Favour Interior Design. “Having all these online platforms is a great way to find products, but you can waste a lot of time and get sidetracked.”
That’s equally true for clients.
“If you’re building a home or remodeling, there is so much available that it gets overwhelming to people and you have to narrow it down for them,” Favour said. “With all the technology, someone who maybe would have hired someone before has access to vendors and takes on a project themselves, but when they get into it, they find coordinating it is more than they counted on.”