Innovation That Matters

Top 10 homes & housing business ideas in 2006

Property & Construction

We’re deviating from our regular schedule to bring you the best new business ideas we covered in 2006. These are our favorites from the homes & housing category:
  1. Covering up IKEA: Bemz is a Swedish company that sells removable, washable slipcovers for sofas, armchairs and cushions, which is a cool business idea in itself, what with the ‘fast fashion’ trend dictating wardrobes and the living room. But we’re not talking just any sofas here – they’ve narrowed it down to seats by IKEA. Makes sense! Millions of homes around the world are furnished by IKEA, which means that Bemz started off with a huge potential market, as well as a limited number of sofas to design for. And while mass class products definitely have their advantages, most customers are eager More »

  2. Garden offices for lawn commuters: For everyone who’d like to escape office politics and the daily commute, iscape manufactures and sells purpose-built garden offices. The British company has created two modular buildings, or ‘iscapes’: Miana and Winola. Both are multi-use outdoor living spaces, but the Miana was specifically designed to be used as an office. Every garden office (from GBP 4,995 including installation and delivery) comes complete with integral electrics and includes sockets and lighting. Constructed from panels, the Miana can be ordered in a range of sizes, with door and window positions meeting a customer’s specific requirements. Customers can choose from 60 colours More »

  3. Real estate 3.0: selling houses that aren’t for sale: Igglo combines large amounts of real estate information into a customer friendly package that could alter how the housing market operates, by letting potential buyers ‘pre-order’ houses that aren’t yet for sale. The Finnish company has photographed every building in Helsinki, with more towns to follow, and combines these photographs with satellite images and maps. Every property is listed, not just those that are currently on the market. (Their tagline is: "Your house is already on Igglo.") Potential buyers can earmark a building, street or neighbourhood they’re interested in, and post offers online. This lets potential sellers find out More »

  4. Dorm furniture for hire: As a solution to furnishing temporary dorm life, two students at Dartmouth College recently set up Evolving Vox, a temporary ownership network. Their company rents out furniture to students, enabling them to go through college without having to make large purchases for their rooms. They don’t have to worry about hauling furniture and appliances around, either — everything is dropped off and picked up for free. Evolving Vox offers everything from futons to TVs, all at affordable prices. A dorm-sized refrigerator, for example, goes for USD 35 per term. Since the company just got started, all items were brand More »

  5. Designer garages: To many men – and a few women – the garage is a haven for unadulterated self-indulgence. When Vault founder Chad Haas was looking to outfit his new garage, he realized there was nothing suitable on the market. Demanding high quality and stylish furnishing and accessories, Haas found nothing quite lived up to his needs or desires. So he founded Vault, "your showroom for treasures." Vault offers a range of upmarket and stylish made-to-order garage furnishings. Homeowners can personalize their garage with fine quality cabinetry, work chests, flooring, wall treatments and hand-crafted garage doors. Think industrial floor coatings, stainless More »

  6. Wallpaper 2.0 | Update: Wallpaper’s journey from faded to fresh continues. Located in Paris, The Collection is a boutique that pushes luxury wall coverings closer to art. Founded by Allison Grant to promote the work of young British artists in France, The Collection now has partnerships with designers across Europe. The boutique’s offerings are anything but mass-produced. Wallpapers are hand-screened, embroidered and hand-coloured. One long, narrow piece shows huge piles of paperback novels ‘to remind us of our youth’, for EUR 55 per meter. Another features a floor to ceiling stack of plates. And one of the boutique’s most popular products is a More »

  7. Test-sleeping for homebuyers: Taking try-before-you-buy to new heights is New Zealand Ruatuna, which lets potential customers stay overnight in one of the company’s straw built homes. Customers can book a night’s accommodation to get a real feel for the type of house and whether they truly like the design. It’s a far cry from traditional sterile display homes or choosing houses off a plan. Potential buyers can overnight with their entire family: kids, cats, dogs included! The concept enables consumers to make a more informed purchase decision based on what they know they like in a home, rather than what they think More »

  8. Rental gardens: Dutch Rent-a-Garden has come up with the perfect solution for garden owners in need of a quick garden fix, whether for their own pleasure, or to make a house sell more easily. The company offers a wide range of potted plants and outdoor sculpture. After discussing a client’s needs and wishes, Rent-a-Garden draws up a plan and takes care of all details and installation. Pricing ranges from EUR 300 for a makeover lasting 3 months, including upkeep. Akin to changing a home’s outdoor wardrobe, customers can switch their garden, patio or roof-terrace’s look with every season. Sounds like the More »

  9. Ready to assemble, no tools needed: Just as everything can be upgraded, most things can be simplified. For consumers who struggle with regular ready to assemble furniture and it’s complicated instructions, Real Simple Furniture will come as a welcome relief. Real Simple Furniture lives up to its name: their flat-pack furniture can be assembled and disassembled with absolutely no tools, other than a pair of hands. The pieces simply click together using lips and grooves. Besides offering super fast and easy assembly and disassembly, the company also stands out by making all of its pieces from real wood, not particle board, and manufacturing everything in More »

  10. Stop Gap Sofas: weekly couch rental: Not every new business idea needs to become the next Shell Oil or GE. London-based Stop Gap Sofas fills a neat little business er… gap, by renting out sofas/couches by the week, to consumers who are moving house, or buying or renting for the first time. In their own words: "furnishing your new property is a time consuming yet essential part of the process. One of the major decisions you’ll face is choosing your ideal sofa, and once you’ve made your choice, chances are you will be faced with a 6-12 week wait wh ile your sofa is hand crafted More »