Let’s jam on online design tools — you know, those web apps you can use to help you layout your furniture or visualize your wall color — they’re SUPER helpful when you’re planning decor, even though they seem completely boring at first blush. I know Homies can make good use of boring tools — how else are you going to figure out how to make your furry bean bag collection compliment a bright pink Space Invaders wall?
There are a number of planners on the web, and I’ve taken a test drive with five of them so you don’t have to.
A planner with flexible, interchangeable options
Raymour & Flanigan makes an interactive design planner loaded with the brands of furniture they carry.
The branded furniture is less interesting than the overall flexibility of the tool. Raymour & Flanigan’s planner also provides less-descript furniture icons so you can plan around the bright green chair you’ve already got. The tool has options for creating a room from scratch, to your dimensions and shapes — including floor patterns, plumbing fixtures, doorways, and accessories like plants and even laptops.
Go all out with Google SketchUp
True to Google style, SketchUp is reported to be super easy to use — the easiest 3D rendering program out there. A post on Kamlau has the best possible walk-through with an incredible example of a rendering brought to life.
Panic-free paint choices
Sherwin Williams’ planner is slick and easy, and they’re my personal choice for the best paint out there.
Sherwin-Williams stores have extremely knowledgeable sales staff and the paint covers like mad. The planner is just as good as the in-store experience — pick a color you like the gist of, apply it to an imaginary wall and the site instantly loads options for you: lighter? Darker? More orange? Companion colors? All easy to find and apply.
I haven’t tried uploading my own photo — give it a go for yourself and let us know how it goes.
Don’t waste your time on these:
Better Homes & Gardens
You’d think BHG could make a better planner. Their program is very similar to Raymour & Flanigan, but jankier.
The controls are difficult and design options are limited. When you need to plan a room, ignore Better Homes’ brand name and visit Raymour & Flanigan instead.
Lowe’s Home Improvement
Enter if you dare, but I couldn’t get Lowe’s planner to load at all: neither in Chrome nor Internet Explorer.
Thanks to Homie Amanda for getting us started on this post. I’m totally feeling more prepared to tackle our very empty house. If you make a shareworthy mock-up, link it in the comments or upload it to the Offbeat Home Flickr group. Happy designing!