The best design tools to improve your home

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Image of the article titled The Best Design Tools To Improve Your Home

Image of the article titled The Best Design Tools To Improve Your Home

Walking around Home Depot until inspiration strikes is a terrible idea. If you have a vague idea for a makeover, remodel or physical improvement of your home, apartment, or even a dorm, we recommend these computer planning tools for the job.

The following is a shortlist of digital tools for the job, listing the features they offer, the jobs they are best suited to help with, and their strengths and weaknesses. Most of them are free, but we’ve noted the price for upgraded versions where applicable. We leave aside tools like Solid works Where AutoCAD / AutoDesk– if you have the time and license fees to use it well, you are probably not looking for a free alternative.

The short version: Want the highlights of what we found while testing these design apps? If you have the time to invest, Google SketchUp definitively reimburses you with precision and personalization. In SketchUp, you won’t come across something like a custom shelf that’s hard to replicate in out-of-the-box web tools. On the flip side, SketchUp is definitely a geek tool, and if you’re looking for the next step in engagement, Room planner is what you are looking for. Here again, IKEA demons, picky internet users and those looking for the super-simple, Sims-like design will find something to like in the other tools we have detailed below.

Room and project design

Google sketchup

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  • Price / availability: The standard Download SketchUp is free for home / personal use; SketchUp Pro 7, with advanced import / export, presentation and printing tools, among others, is $ 495.
  • Strengths: It has many of the same design powers of 3D and solid objects as commercial software used by engineers, but the interface is relatively easier to learn and use. If you like to mouse over Google Earth, you can probably learn SketchUp commands without too much trouble. Our article on planning improvements in 3D with SketchUp provides a basic tutorial.
  • Weaknesses: Unless you’re a perfectionist ready to take photos of your paint, fabrics, and other patterns and colors, SketchUp’s visual cues will be just a rough draft. Even if you have digital images galore for reference, figuring out how to stretch them on SketchUp surfaces isn’t exactly intuitive.
  • Best suited for: Physical projects requiring a fairly accurate 3D view, and where color / design plays a secondary role.

IKEA planners

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  • Price / availability: Free download, divided into several versions (Kitchen, Office, Bedroom) and some online planning tools. (To note: This link contains more recent and updated versions of the planning software that you may find in our archives, or by a direct search on Google).
  • Strengths: If you are not a tape measure fan, you can quickly sketch out the shape of your room, doors, windows, interior walls, and other items needed for the layout by dragging items onto the layout. layout. He knows the exact measurements of IKEA tables, shelves and other furniture, and lists of the items you’ll need can be printed or downloaded from IKEA for reference in a store.
  • Weaknesses: The interface and controls seem very rough, if not beta quality. You’ll have to grit your teeth a few times to get things into place, and entering precise measurements can be overwhelming. Dividing kitchen / office / bedroom planners into separate, mislabeled downloads isn’t very helpful.
  • Ideal for : People who know their tastes look to the minimal / cheap / functional IKEA realm, or can find inexpensive and similar substitutes for IKEA fixtures, and want to get a taste of what is right for their home. Keith Robinson, Lifehacker alumnus I used it for this sole purpose.

Floor planner

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  • Price / availability: Free web product for personal use; Pro and Plus plans provide more storage, subdomains, custom themes and multi-user tools.
  • Strengths: Accessible anywhere, as it is a web-based tool (although it does require Flash, so no scribbling on iPad or smartphone). Large, sturdy library of objects, structures and other items to insert into your home, but also features single line / area / object drawing. Easy to use in 2D or 3D.
  • Weaknesses: Standard furniture and designs look a bit, well, generic. Flash addiction leaves a person worried about unexpected accidents. Close-ups may take a while to load and switch between 2D and 3D modes.
  • Ideal for : Make a “big picture” design of a room or visualize your dream home as a whole. Next to SketchUp, it’s the most versatile tool here, and some might prefer it for its easier floor / wall / cabinet designs. (Original message)

Design your dorm

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  • Price / Availability: Free to use as web design tool
  • Strengths: If DyD happens to have the university you attend in its fairly large database, you’ll end up with a pre-sized floor plan to work with, and you can drag, drop, and stack all kinds of stuff into it to see what fits. .
  • Weaknesses: If your college is not on the preloaded list, it’s up to you to know its size and shape. If you don’t like commercial come-ons, you won’t like sponsored items that you can add to your bedroom.
  • Ideal for : College students, obviously, who want to know the realities of integrating their lives in half of a shared dormitory. (Original message)

Sweet Home 3D

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  • Price / Availability: Free Java-based web application.
  • Strengths: It’s a detail-driven delight, with almost everything about your interior space – colors, object shapes, plant orientation – being able to be changed. Displays a 3D preview as you work in 2D space and has a large inventory of preloaded objects.
  • Weaknesses: Requires Java to function. While there is a detailed user manual and video tutorial, opening the app and watching all the controls is overwhelming.
  • Ideal for : Those who like the fine control of Google SketchUp, but need more pre-made furniture and objects, and an emphasis on interior design. (Original message)

Dragonfly Project

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  • Price / Availability: Free web application, with enough free storage space to save a few layouts and designs.
  • Strengths: Very easy to access, with a Sims– like the design interface and appearance of the object.
  • Weaknesses: The interface is a bit too simple and cartoonish for its own good – figuring out how to change and rebuild things takes a bit of guesswork and play.
  • Ideal for : Quickly sketch out the look of your room, with no details or measurements in mind. (Original message)

Color schemes and paint matching

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Spacing, furnishings, and design are important, but nothing changes the look of a room as quickly as a fresh coat of paint.

A die the coolest tools we’ve seen to visualize what a part will look like is ColorJive, shown above. The web app asks you to upload an evenly lit image of a room and then change the color of the mural when you click on it and select new shades. It’s not always work, but when it does, it looks like magic.

To choose your own color schemes and shades in a more abstract and professional way, you can try the Color scheme designer 3 for a color wheel-based approach, or upload an image you like to look like on the Color palette generator. we covered lots and lots of palette tools, and many of them seem interchangeable. What can you do to break the indecision? To try learn some basic color theory from Smashing Magazine, or take commentator Mark 2000 on his offer of an entire color theory class condensed into one blog post.


What free or reasonably priced home design tools have we missed? How did you plan your own renovations or recent remodeling of your home? Tell us your opinion in the comments.


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