In our modern day of looking at home improvements shows, surfing architecture and interior design websites, and spending countless hours on planning our spaces we live each day, wouldn’t you love to plan them virtually first? There are computer programs that you can purchase, books and tutorials you can buy, or you can look at this list of the best free online virtual programs for planning and designing your home. In this case, best means – user friendly without prior knowledge of using space planning software. Best also refers to ease of accomplishing more than one task, i.e. choosing from a gallery of decor and finishes and laying out rooms and spaces. Most importantly, they are all free and ready for you to try out paint color, move walls, all without buying a thing!
If you want to upload your own floor plan, or play around with pre-loaded floor plans, this program is for you. The My Deco 3D Planner allows you to insert walls, doors, windows and select from a gallery of interior finishes. The interface is relatively simple to use, and allows you to view your plan and 3D image at the same time. You can move the camera around the plan to see different views, and even paint the walls and ceilings from an extensive color selection.
Plan view and 3D view allow you to move camera to different angles.
To make this program realistic, real products are used for inserting into your model. You can choose from small kitchen appliances to garden tools in your garage! If you love the decor you put into your rendered model, click on the ‘Available for purchase’ button and you can find out the price, and where to buy the real objects for your own home. You can use the software without joining, or join and upload your model to your Facebook wall for your friends to see! For all of you iPhone users, My Deco also has as a free app to download 3D furniture in your rooms.
Ikea has free software that allows you to plan your furniture, decor to the specifications of your home! When you flip through the IKEA catalog, do you ever wish you could take the exact bookshelf and desk and see how it would look in your space? The easy to use planning tool allows you to configure your floor plan, choose from the IKEA gallery of furniture and decor components, and then calculate the cost, and then print out and carry into your local Ikea store.
Ikea has also designed a kitchen planner tool that allows you to layout your kitchen, change models of appliances, cabinetry, and other Ikea kitchen components all without leaving your computer. This programming tool also allows you to itemize a shopping list of the Ikea components so you can add up how much your kitchen will cost in advance. Ikea has been the leader for years for affordable home décor, furniture, and now fabulous kitchens. By entering your current dimensions, openings (doors and windows) you can plan how the space will work and if cabinetry, appliances, and organizational Ikea products will meet your needs.
4.) DESIGN A ROOM
Do you hate having to grab dozens of material samples at several stores and come back home and try out all the combinations in your space? Problem solved! Armstrong has a nice 3D virtual program that allows you to see different color combinations of flooring, cabinetry, ceilings, walls and even countertops while staying in the comfort of your home.
Design a Room allows you to try out choose a room in your home, then pick a style (ranging from contemporary, traditional to global fusion) and play around with colors, textures and finishes. Choosing finishes in a room can be a daunting task but Armstrong allows you to choose from their already installed inventory of finishes, and even allows you to choose coordinating paint manufacturer wall color! Choose from Sherwin Williams, PPG, and Benjamin Moore colors to get exact matches to go with your cherry hardwood or onyx ceramic tile floor.
This design tool is for those of you that are in the market for designing a room and want to see the result before execution, or before paying a dime! The best thing about this free online 3D tool is the ability to learn about the products before you buy them. Armstrong’s library of flooring and ceiling selections give you an education about the product. For example when choosing the bathroom as seen above, a note to the side said hardwood flooring is not recommended for bathroom applications. This allows the user to get the realistic look, and not just put together a room that looks cool, but isn’t functional!
Autodesk, creator of AutoCAD, REVIT, and 3ds Studio Max is known for its professional design programs for designing buildings, 3D building information modeling and 3d rendering capabilities. They also have a great program for planning out home/office/apartment spaces called Homestyler. This program is user friendly and doesn’t require formal training like the other professional programs they offer.
To make floor plans, simple drag and drop commands allow you to create, dimension, and even make angle walls within your design. Doors and windows come in a variety of choices and require no prior knowledge of types, clearances, etc.. What is nice about Homestyler is that it can be used for a first timer or purchase the professional version (Homestyler PRO).
The furnish and decorate tool allows you to drag and drop cabinetry, appliances, furniture, and every decor item you can think of. Then personalize your space with area rugs and finish items by true manufacturer’s. Choose from FLOR, SHERWIN WILLIAMS, KOHLER, and a list of others to allow you to achieve the true look and feel of how your space will visualize and feel.
Once your design is complete you can print out the shopping list to take to the store, or print it out and take to a home improvement store to visualize your intent.
Want to share your idea with friends around the globe? Homestyler allows you to post to a myriad of social sites. Facebook, Stumble upon, Email and share your ideas or collaborate about areas to change and improve!
For those that want to do it yourself (DIY), the next few programs are for you. After you have planned out how the spaces will look, you are ready to start buying the materials and getting started, right? Bob Vila.com has a suite of free online tools that help you estimate how much material you need, and will help you learn how to sketch out, and measure the space to prevent you from wasting time, costly materials, and countless trip back to your local hardware or home improvement store!
The Drywall estimator uses sketch sheets and diagrams to show you how to “take off” the measurements needed to go purchase drywall with.
The first step is to use the free provided worksheets to sketch out your room with dimensions and number each wall on your diagram. Once you do this answer the questions below about that particular wall. Answers to these questions will help in the estimating portion at the end of the exercise.
The next step is to layout the ceiling shape and answer the questions regarding the characteristics. Notice the Drywall Estimator shows you how the sheets would be laid out when you install it. This is helpful for the estimation of the quantity, but also in understanding your project before you implement it.
The last steps involve measuring around obstructions, windows and doors. These areas will help you subtract from the overall wall spaces that were measured in the previous steps. For those of you that love to do your own home renovations, this free online tool will take the guess work out of purchasing and laying out drywall.
The Drywall Estimator has other companions that will help with your next renovation. Paint, ceramic tile, batt insulation, and acoustic ceiling tile estimators are also available.
7.) SWEET HOME 3D
This 3D visual software is ideal for those that want more customization options to the average room and decor space planning program. The online software is free with a log in required and some brief information to get started. For a more advanced version of Sweet Home 3D it can also be downloaded on to your computer for saving, exporting and manipulation of your home plans at a later time.
The interface is laid out into 4 sections: 1.) The furniture catalog in the upper left hand corner allows you to choose components by name in a quick fashion. Similar to a Windows Explorer format, the tree layout navigation allows the user to drag and drop components directly into the floor plan. 2.) The floor plan shows you in a 2D format where the walls, windows, doors, and furniture are placed. 3.) The 3D pane shows your plan in a 3D fashion immediately after placing in the floor plan. This view will help users that need help visualizing the plan as they design. 4.) Lastly, the home furniture list displays the dimensions, size, etc.. of each of the components. This helps in laying out furniture to the exact size that you need.
The added bonus of this program allows you to customize 3D furniture models, if you can’t find what you need in the provided catalog. Import your own models directly into your plans. To bring in your floor plan, import it into Sweet Home 3D, scale it, and trace over your plan so you don’t have any guess work. For those interested in walking through the designed space, a camera feature can placed along a path through the floor plan and a video feature visualizes how you would interact within all areas of the room. This program can be simple, but it has the advanced features for those that want more from their 3D virtual planning experience.
Smartdraw is a suite of programs for visual graphics and presentations. Graphic choices include charts and graphs such as: project charts, timelines, marketing charts and flow charts. Under the flowchart application are floor plans and individual room plans.
This program allows you to design, customize and present drawings on a beginner and professional level. Use this program to plan out office space, apartments, individual rooms, and even building elevations. Smartdraw is ideal for individuals or a business that doesn’t need to spend a lot for design software. It has a free trial period, and if you’re satisfied you can purchase the full program for yourself.
With it’s almost infinite selection of furniture, cars, building materials, and preloaded plans, Smartdraw has a lot of bang for the buck. If you are computer program savvy, and enjoy adding a multitude of content and specifications to your design, this program is a perfect fit for you.
*These next programs are for those individuals that don’t want to spend a lot of time at the computer, and want to sketch a drawing to provide to a contractor, home improvement associate, or to have hard lines rather than a hand drawn sketch.
Flooplanner online program is a simple but effective way to make floor plans. Often times you have an idea and need a floor plan made, right? This program provides you the ability to make a floor plan with drag and drop walls, windows, and doors. What is great about this program is it doesn’t require prior knowledge about design, or decor. Simply load, drop, and print!
We’ve discussed nine of the best free online visual programs for laying out floor plans, furniture and decor – what about the garden? From the creator Floor Planner comes Garden Planner, a online design tool that allows you to pick landscaping and design its layout.
Similar to sketching out a floor plan, the garden planner allows you to design and place walls, furniture, and plants all in one work space. Click on a piece of furniture to see it’s dimensions, and color and easily change its color with a menu of colors and shades to customize your design to the decor of your outdoor space.
Place walkways, fences, water features and planters in a layout that will you explain your vision, or just use it to brainstorm and have fun. Once you’re happy with the design the program will tally your quantity of plants and landscape components to estimate pricing. and take to your garden center.
There are plenty of free online 3D virtual programs that will allow you to plan, design, draw and view your space. Depending on your skill level, what your objective is, and how you want to present your final drawings, there is a program perfect for you. The next time you want to play around and daydream or you have a home that you want to build to your personal specifications, review this list of top 10 best free online virtual programs and tools.