I’ve heard of Pinterest and Houzz, as has, I suspect, any computer-literate person with even a slight interest in decorating or remodeling. I’ve used both to browse for design ideas and specific products.
But sometimes I would spy something I really liked only to learn there was no manufacturing or purchasing information for it.
I could have saved time with Polyvore, which started in 2007 as a fashion website and branched out into home decor in 2013. It’s kind of a mashup of Pinterest, Wanelo (Want, Need, Love) and Houzz; it allows you to create a collage that you – or others – can shop from.
It’s less widely known than Pinterest, which has 50 million unique visitors per month (Polyvore has about 20 million). Yet Polyvore has a higher “average order value” (meaning its customers spend more per visit) than Pinterest or the No. 1 social network, Facebook.
It also prides itself on its global flair: More than half of its traffic comes from international users.
Here’s how it works: Users put together collages, or “sets,” of products to create a mood board, an outfit or a room.
People browsing the sets can click on any item (some from Polyvore itself, some from other websites) to go to the place to buy it online.
Companies use it to promote and sell their products, fashion and design mavens use it to spread their personal brands, and ordinary folk use it to experiment with what might go with what.
Instead of designing a room, I opted to create a “wishboard” of potential recliners.
I searched through Polyvore for options and also imported one from another site using a tool called a “clipper.” (Note: The clipper does not work with all sites.)
Then, I added a few bookcases I liked and Asian and Hawaiian accents to match the flavor of our decor, to see which recliners fit in best.
I didn’t find the collage-making especially intuitive, but it was fun, and when I had questions, Polyvore’s help center and YouTube tutorials came to the rescue. The worst thing that happened was that I lost my changes when, at one point, I couldn’t save my set.
I found it much easier to work on a set from a desktop than in the iPhone app, though the latter was fine for browsing. But I may be an exception: Fifty percent of Polyvore’s traffic comes from mobile, which includes its tablet apps.
Plenty of folks interested in renovating and decorating are polyamorous when it comes to design sites. Polyvore is a good application to add to your options, especially if you like to create your own look and/or are serious about shopping.
Operating systems: iOS and Android
User ratings: Apple, 4 1/2 out of 5 stars (20,439 ratings); Google Play, 4 1/2 out of 5 stars (44,513 ratings)
Bottom line: Lots of fun despite the occasional glitch. Especially good for folks who are ready to shop for products, not just ideas.