Use tech to get creative with your next interior design project.
Sprucing up your home, or even building a new addition, is best done with some planning. Fortunately, plenty of apps are available for Android and Apple smartphone or tablet users to help with the design, planning, professional consultation and even buying stages of freshening up a space -- whether that means a full room renovation or a simple paint color change. Read on for the seven best free interior design apps for consumers.
Best for connecting with professionals: Houzz
Houzz has a strong reputation for helping people plan and prepare for home remodeling and design, as well as providing access to a network of professionals and a marketplace for home decor products. It's no surprise the Houzz app offers all the features available on its website, including access to your saved ideabooks and 3D virtual room staging. Houzz app users can also participate in forum discussions with other users to share advice and experience. Compared with other home design apps, Houzz offers the best way to connect with professionals and includes customer reviews, project budget ranges and contact information.
Best for creating floor plans: magicplan
There are many floor plan creator apps available to smartphone and tablet users, but magicplan offers the most user-friendly experience. This app allows you to create floor plans based on your existing home or room, or you can create one for a future space. Your planning can get more detailed and realistic by including plans for electrical outlets, flooring types, appliances and other items. The app even allows you to import existing floor plans from elsewhere to use as a template or recreate an existing floor plan for future renovations. Once you've created a complete plan, you can export the floor plan as a PDF and get a 3D model of the plan via email. Your contractor can even calculate the estimated total cost of the project within the app.
Best marketplace: Wayfair
Wayfair says it offers more than 14 million products in its marketplace, and its app allows you to benefit by planning what will fit best in your home while also shopping for it. App users can take a photo of their room and insert photos of furniture and decor for sale through Wayfair to try out the placement and overall look before adding items to their cart. You can also visualize select rugs, linen and furniture products in your room through augmented reality. You can order directly through the app and track packages as you wait for them to arrive at home.
Best for choosing paint colors: Project Color by Home Depot
If you're looking for an app that will help you make decisions when it comes to painting walls, trim and other parts of your house, look to Project Color by Home Depot. The app allows users to explore color swatches as well as preview paints and color combinations in your own room by snapping a photo. The augmented reality isn't perfect, but can give you a feel for how a new paint color would work in the space. If you're out and about and see a building, plant or even fabric color you think would work well in your home, you can take a photo through the app to find the closest color option sold by Home Depot. You can even order paint samples with free delivery, or buy paint for in-store pickup through the app.
Best for trying out room design: Ikea Place
The Swedish home goods store known for its flat-pack furniture and Scandinavian design places a particular focus on where the user is. If you're in the room you want to design, the augmented reality feature allows you to virtually stage Ikea furniture to see how it would look. In addition, if you're at a friend's house, and he knows he got his desk at Ikea but has no clue what it's called, snap a photo and the app will search the Ikea catalog to identify it. There is no in-app ordering, however, as users must visit the website or an Ikea store to purchase items.
Best for designing for fun: Design Home
There are times for serious planning for a new room design or renovation, and there are times you just want to pretend you're an interior designer. Users can tackle design challenges when they open the Design Home app, such as a hypothetical client scenario in which you must design a beachfront living room for a vacation home in Australia for a college professor. All items you put to use are real, with brand and pricing information available. To complete a challenge, the app gives you a fake budget to spend on decor, and you can earn play money for completing a challenge. However, users warn against using real money to expand your budget in challenges -- the app notes that you can turn off in-app purchasing in the settings.
Best for calculating project cost: HomeAdvisor
Whether you're planning a kitchen renovation or simply need a drain clog fixed, HomeAdvisor offers the same in-depth analysis of project scope and cost on its mobile app. You can store plans and contractor information for your project in the app, and also be put in touch with local contractors who will contact you directly and bid on your project. HomeAdvisor's app doesn't allow you to browse local professionals and choose who to contact yourself, but by providing your contact information and some basic details on your project, you can find pros who will help you get started quickly.
Here are the best free interior design apps:
-- Houzz: Best for connecting with professionals.
-- magicplan: Best for creating a floor plan.
-- Wayfair: Best marketplace.
-- Project Color by Home Depot: Best for choosing paint colors.
-- Ikea Place: Best for trying out room design.
-- Design Home: Best for designing for fun.
-- HomeAdvisor: Best for calculating project cost.
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