Architecture, Decor, and Design Idea Cheat Sheet

A Cute, Open-Plan Renovation in a 100-Year-Old Amsterdam SchoolhouseGoing online can be a time sink. This cheat sheet will save you time. I have narrowed down publications and websites which I fund useful when researching what décor, architecture, landscaping, and interior design you like.

Short List, aka Mike’s Hack: This is when I just need to stay on top of things quickly. I don’t go to many places because it is easy to lose time if you start looking at too much.

houzz_logo: My number one go-to place for great pictures for everything. Kitchens, baths, landscaping, architecture. The downside is that it can be overwhelming, with too many pictures, and they try to sell you something all the time. You have to get an account to see lots of pictures.

Dwell This is my go-to magazine or website for modern architecture and interior design. Definitely a leader in design. If you don’t like modern, don’t come here at all.

IKEA: (US, International) I guess I love the constant smell of cinnamon rolls and Swedish meatballs. Actually, they have great design ideas and beautiful products for everyone. Just because you don’t have a huge budget doesn’t mean you have to buy something boring from a big box retailer like Lowes and Home Depot.


Special Issue Magazine Publications: These are published by the major publishers, such as Dwell, House Beautiful, HGTV Magazine, and Traditional Homes. These annual or biannual publications are succinct and great because they give you lots of ideas and descriptions which you can reference. Many websites, such as Sunset Ideal Homes and Traditional Homes, have a special section for homes.

Kitchen and Bath Product Manufacturers:

Caesarstone (US site, International site): They are a countertop manufacturer that has a beautiful kitchen and bath gallery on their site. They have everything from modern to classic. They’re my favorite quartz manufacturer for design.

Porcelanosa (USA site, International site): A manufacturer of porcelain products that has awesome pictures on their website. Great pictures and ideas, but some are best used in commercial interior design. Great product, just not for every home.


Sunset Magazine: It’s my go-to publication on landscaping and gardening since I live in the drought stricken area of California. Growing up in California, this magazine was something my parents had at home all the time. I guess that is what inspired them to make their garden in San Francisco. I really like their ideal house section: Great for green remodeling ideas.

Garden Design: The most comprehensive magazine in this category. From Native Landscaping to Resort Style, this is the only place to go.

(Insert picture of Mom and Dad’s garden.)

The Full Monty, aka the buffet of online resources: “You can feel like a goose being made into foie gras when you are researching anything for the home.” It is categorized by niche and topics to make it easier.


Architect Magazine: This journal is published by the American Institute of Architects (AIA). It is focused on the professional reader. It has lots of the cutting edge info on architecture.

Architizer: Great place to see a mixture of commercial and residential designs from around the world. It even has a product section which shows very specific products. One of my personal favorites.

Fragile Shelter by Hidemi Nishida, Sapporo, Japan
Fragile Shelter by HIdemi Nishida, Sapporo, Japan

Architype Review: This was a blog founded by a group of architects. Most of its focus is commercial, but it has dedicated issues to small homes and homes which would be highly applicable to any remodel looking for modern.

Architecture and Interior Design:

Atomic Ranch: Mid Century Focused Magazine: I think they are pretty awesome for a traditional publisher with only a magazine.

The Craftsman Bungalow: Great resource for Frank Lloyd Wright, Arts and Crafts, Craftsman, and Bungalow homes. I like this because it a highly targeted.

Dezeen: Architecture and Interior Design Magazine focusing on unique and modern design.

Dwell Magazine: This is my go-to magazine or website for modern architecture and interior design. Definitely a leader in design.

Sunset: Ideal House:This a great place to get ideals of a broad range of home designs.

Building, Remodeling, and Renovating Search and Hiring Engine:

Houzz: Great because there are lots of pictures of stuff. The downside is there is sometimes too much. Be prepared for lots of advertising. They have a large online community of people answering questions. The reality is you can’t receive good or great advice without someone actually coming to your house. For example, no one can really tell you proper advice on colors without seeing it in the room because lighting affects the paint colors. When you sign up with them, prepare yourself for spam multiple times of week to buy lots of décor. Great for photo sharing. Great place to get a rough idea for pricing of projects. The interface for looking at design ideas is not as good as Houzz.

Do It Yourself, Remodeling:

DIY Network: This may sound generic but they have tons of info here on different styles. The production company is related to HGTV.

Fine Homebuilding: This has a great how-to section on virtually everything, and a tool guide and materials list along with project videos. This is more practical, pragmatic, and technical compared to HGTV and DIY.

Paul Krueger Architect Photo Brian Vanden Brink
Architect Paul Krueger made good use of the stairway when he designed a very small guest cottage for a client’s home on Martha’s Vineyard. Realizing the need to house an extensive collection of books, he designed these built in bookshelves into the stairway. Stainless steel handrail and handsome lighting combine with the beauty of the natural materials of the steps and walls to make a very handsome space. Smart! Read more: Follow us: @fhbweb on Twitter | FineHomebuildingMagazine on Facebook


HGTV: This is the website for its TV shows. The more budget-oriented option compared to Houzz, which is pretty much upper middle to high end. Vanilla Ice’s show is pretty cool because he does a lot of unique things I would never see in Northern California. The production company is related to DIY Network.

HGTV Remodel: This talks about remodeling specifically. Links to their remodel pages with lots of great ideas.

House Beautiful: They have lots of great renovation ideas.

This Old House: This may be an oldie but it’s a goodie. The website is laid out by different project type, such as Kitchen, Bathroom, Landscaping.

Remodeling: This is the remodeling industry magazine website. This will talk about industry concerns and issues along with the latest construction trends and topics.

Remodelista: Despite the name, it seems to be trending more lifestyle and product driven. It has some really nice pictures.  For the San Francisco Bay Area residents, I think of this as Marine and Napa Valley-ish. Modern yet traditional.

Retro Renovation: This is great when I want a retro fix which reminds me of the late ‘40s and ‘60s. Laminate countertops, here we come.

Eco Remodeling:

California Straw Building Association: Straw bale building resource.

Earth Architecture: Written by Ronald Rael, an Assistant Professor of Architecture at UC Berkeley. This is sustainable earth architecture around the world. Very interesting just not relevant to 99% of the remodelers, but if you want something eco, check it.

Green Home Building Magazine: This is an industry publication focused on builders and not homeowners.

Green Home Guide: U.S. Green Building Council’s website for ideas and green home professionals.

Mother Earth News: Crunchy granola, patchouli oil wearing at its finest. Great topics such as Organic Gardening and Green Homes.

Straw Bale: Andrew Morrison, the founder of this site, holds straw bale building workshops.


Tree Hugger Design Section: This place is pretty cool. Daily articles on different small space designs and commercial applications. It is just a fun place to go for occasional info on architectural and interior design.

Interior Design:

Architectural Digest: Despite the name, they consider themselves to be an international magazine of interior design. This is the lifestyle of the rich, famous, and gaudy. Welcome to the home of Ralph Lauren or Will and Jada Smith.

Elle Décor: Luxury décor and interior design is their focus. They have some cool, detailed articles of lifestyles of the rich and famous. Some people like this but it can be gaudy. It is the opposite of clean and simple.

Interior Design: Industry focused magazine. It has residential and commercial design and is a great place to look at what the leaders of design are doing.

luxe. interiors + design: This is a resource guide for products, basically a bid book of fancy advertising to sell stuff to consumers. I think it’s not very useful for people who are not in the industry. It is a great looking product but not great for information.

Veranda: High end interior design magazine. Stunning.

World of Interiors: Subscription-based resource, the UK equivalent of Architectural Digest. Do you want a villa in Capri or a place in Chelsea?

Gardening and Landscaping:

Better Home and Gardens: This one is not as extensive as Garden Design and Fine Gardening.

Fine Gardening: From the publishers of Fine Homebuilding, it has strong how-to and design sections.

Garden Design: The most comprehensive magazine in this category. From Native Landscaping to Resort Style, this is the only place to go.

The English Garden: The website is green with plants and landscaping. No fluff here.

American Society of Landscape Architects: This is the industry association website focused on commercial projects, but you can use it for occasional inspiration.

Industry Resources:

Green Home Building Magazine: This is an industry publication focused on builders and not homeowners. You go here if you want green.

National Kitchen and Bath Institute (NKBA): It’s a way for designers to differentiate themselves with certifications. Great place to look at industry trends and latest designs.

Living, Design, Décor, and Decorating: This genre consists of publications that dabble in everything from recipes, entertaining, DIY, design, to décor. Great place to get lost. I have provided links to their sections.

Apartment Therapy: This website gives design and living ideas for the apartment life, and it also dabbles in single family homes. Cutesy.

Better Homes and Gardens:  Don’t think about this as a Mom and Grandmother magazine. It is chic, creative, and cool despite the name. Check this out:

Better Homes and Garden

Decoist: From Hong Kong apartments to homes in Montreal, this is a great site to look at design outside of the U.S. It had DIY stuff for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Domino: More focused on Décor and Decorating. Not my favorite, but my sister likes it.

Elle Décor: Luxury décor and interior design is their focus. They have some cool detailed articles of lifestyles of the rich and famous. Some people like this, but it can be gaudy. It is the opposite of clean and simple.

Traditional Home: Lots of ideas targeted on traditional homes from around the country. You can find your Napa Farmhouse style here as well as Hugh Hefner’s former Beaux Arts mansion in Chicago. Great place if you don’t like contemporary and modern but want to create or update your traditional home or style.

Regional Focused Living and Design Magazines: These are great to narrow down a style preference and to find something which meets your specific market. Like all living magazines, you will get a dose of food and travel in these magazines.


CA Home and Design: It has beautiful homes from California. I like reading the curated content of Home Design and Art. There is a lot of product placement intermixed with celebrity profiles. Nice overview of California homes such as Edwardian, Mid Century, and Log Cabins in the Sierras.

California Homes Magazine: Very focused, with nice pictures and minimal ads and articles. Good place if you don’t want to be distracted, but limiting.

SFC&C: Fancy picture book with lots of pictures of high end neighborhoods in the San Francisco Bay Area, such as Pacific Heights, Atherton, and Tiburon. All the pictures are well manicured like a golf course. Strong focus on design.

Sunset: Great for drought tolerant landscaping and monthly projects. They do a great job of detailing what they do while not getting too technical on construction.


Coastal Living: If you are looking for seaside cottages on all coasts from Texas to California to the Carolinas. Link to home section. Can be fluffy.


Mountain Living: Focused on any state which has mountains, from California to Tennessee and Wyoming to Arizona. Eclectic and inspirational publication for people. You expect Lindsay Vonn and Apollo Ono to pop out of these homes.


Carolina Home and Garden: This magazine is the real deal compared to Southern Living. Homes, design, art, and gardens reflective of the Carolinas. It reminds me of my trips to North Carolina. No fluff. You will be impressed.

Southern Living: This publication is relevant to the tastes of the South. In my opinion it has more on décor and food than homes and designs.


New York Spaces: Great magazine for interior design for apartment dwellers and homes in the Hamptons. West Side to East Side. It is urban, chic, edgy, and cool. Taste-making is what this is about.

New England Home: This is New England styles such as Cape and Connecticut style homes. I like that they have an Industry Insider section. No recipes. No fluff.

New York Cottages and Gardens: NYC&G: It is focused on interiors and gardens. It has a section for local designers and makers. Refreshing compared to the mass market rags like Better Homes and Garden.

Connecticut Cottages and Gardens: Same as NYC&G except localized to Connecticut.

Hamptons Cottages and Gardens: Same as NYC&G except localized to the Hamptons.

Home and Design: A design magazine focusing on the Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia region.

Kitchen and Bath Specific:

Countertop Manufacturers: These companies have excellent pictures and ideas you can use for your kitchen or bath.

Caesarstone: Engineered quartz manufacturer. Lots of great pictures of kitchens and baths with different styles.

Cambria: USA made product. Best in creating granite looks. New collections are starting to look swirlier. Link to picture gallery.

Silestone: There products are like a cross section of Cambrian and Caesarstone. Click here to get to the kitchen pictures. Click here to get to the bathroom images.

Tile Manufactures:

Arizona Tile: This look caters to more traditional and transitional than modern. Link to inspiration gallery. Their inspiration gallery is great for looking at different rooms and homes. The look is more modern European design.

Recommended Books:

Reader’s Digest: New Complete Do-It-Yourself Manual. In my opinion, this is the one home repair book you must have at home — one you know is accurate. Sometimes online resources are not always the best.

Green Remodeling Changing the World One Room at a Time, by David Johnston and Kim Master, LEED AP. This is a phenomenal book for anyone who is interested in energy efficiency. It documents author David Johnston’s journey. He was one of the top 50 remodelers in the 1990. He developed the green remodeling program in the U.S. He is the real deal.





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