Technology and Interiors

The explosion of technology has impacted every area of life, and home design is certainly benefitting from this revolution. But how does the average person looking to update their home navigate through all the available options to find the most useful? I have gone through several apps and websites using their visualisation and layout design tools, and below is my review of the best ones.

Initial Measuring and Drawing

Magic Plan – this is a great tool that has mainly been designed for trade users, so it almost feels like cheating to use it. You can download the app on your phone and use it to quickly create a digital image with dimensions of your room. This is a huge help especially if you live in a period property with all of the quirky corners and chimney breasts and odd shapes. The one caveat is that you need to have the corners free – so it works best with an empty room or one where existing furnishings can be easily moved out of the way. If that’s not possible, use a tape measure and draw the walls manually in the app. Having this on your phone means you will always have an accurate guide with you when shopping, talking to tradespeople, or designers. Here’s what my odd-shaped spare room looks like:

You can also use it to start helping you budget – it has pre-loaded cost estimates for equipment, flooring, and all sorts of useful references.

It also then can be exported to Floorplanner, one of the many 2D/3D layout visualisation tools out there. Here’s what my room looks like testing out a round rug:

These two together are by far my favourite technology solution, but here are some others I have tried.

Layout Design Software Review

Best Overall, and connected to Magic Plan – Floorplanner

  1. Magic Layout feature – automatically creates a design if using one of their standard blank space options
  2. Easy to move walls, decent amount of available furnishings – and soft furnishings can be size adjusted (i.e. you can amend the dimensions of a rug or a bookcase)
  3. Rotating and adjusting items – 5 out of 5
  4. Easy to draw and input walls – 5 out of 5
  5. Not the best 3D render due to flexibility (i.e. not real products)
  6. Allows for lighting, small appliances

Best for use on the phone and for multiple rooms – 5D Planner App 

  1. Free for the intro, basic features, £4.49 month or £17.99 yearly
  2. Lots of options for walls/shapes/windows/doors with ability to adjust angles
  3. Allows for lighting, small appliances

Best for odd room shapes  – Opun Planner 

  1. Lots of options for walls/shapes/windows/doors with ability to adjust angles and add staircases
  2. Allows you to plan in a full ranges of detail including radiators, backsplash, sockets, switches
  3. Allows for lighting, small appliances
  4. Good design options for worktop/door style as well as walls and furnishings

KITCHEN ONLY 

Best if you want to purchase from the supplier of the planner – DIY Kitchens

  1. Lots of options for walls/shapes/windows/doors with ability to adjust angles and add staircases
  2. Allows you to plan in a full ranges of detail including radiators, backsplash, sockets, switches
  3. Allows for lighting
  4. Good design options for worktop/door style as well as walls and furnishings

Best if you want to purchase from the supplier of the planner on a smaller budget – IKEA

  1. A more limited capability planner and can be frustrating to use, but it will produce the exact units and items you need to purchase
  2. You can set up a free appointment with a designer at IKEA to either get you started, help you sense check your plan, or do both if you have time to make two appointments (and to wait for the available ones!)

Best for general visualisation and ease of use – Nolte Kitchen Planner

  1. Good options for walls/shapes/windows/doors, as well as a free hand options for max flexibility
  2. Allows you to plan in a full ranges of detail including radiators, backsplash, sockets, switches
  3. Allows for lighting, plants, soft furnishings
  4. Lots of design options for worktop/door style as well as walls 

There are more out there – so let me know if there’s one you love or would like me to evaluate! I’ll be covering Augmented Reality technology next week – including my visit to John Lewis to try their new AR system!

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