House Design on the Computer
November 17, 2009 11:31 PM   Subscribe

Can anyone recommend a website that lets you design a house, inside and out, including furniture placement in realistic-looking 3D for free?
posted by VC Drake to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
You might want to check these previous questions:
Sketchup alternative
Bought a piece of land, about to build a house
Both of those address Google SketchUp, which fits the bill for what you're looking for.

If you want something a lot simpler, but only possible for rooms rather than an entire house, and limited in that you can only use the store's furniture (but nice if you have lots of their furniture!), Ikea has free applications too. Go to "Ikea Planner Tools" on their site and you can see what they have available.
posted by fraula at 12:34 AM on November 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Second Google SketchUp if you don't want to spend a month learning about 3D modeling.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:22 AM on November 18, 2009

If you are willing to spend a month learning about 3D modeling and rendering, I recommend Blender, the open-source 3d modelling app, and LuxRender, which can generate photorealistic output (prepare to either throw a LOT of CPUs at it on a network, or wait a LONG time, tho). I'm reworking the apartment using these tools right now.

However, Blender has a learning cliff more than a learning curve -- be prepared to put in some time learning esoteric software if you go this route. If you want to do 3d/multimedia anyway it might be worth it; if this is a one-off thing, maybe Sketchup fits the bill better.
posted by Alterscape at 6:18 AM on November 18, 2009

have you considered The Sims?

serious suggestion. you can do quite a lot with the base tools and, if you want to get into 3d modeling anyway, then it's quite easy to add your own models and designs.

the end product is certainly not photorealistic, but the high quality game engine graphics are likely to look better than anything you can quickly throw together from scratch in any other program.

Google Image Search to give you an idea of what can be done.
posted by 256 at 6:36 AM on November 18, 2009

I'd like to throw out the suggestion that if you don't know how to design a house, none of the software packages above will do it for you. Sketchup is usable, but as someone who has used it to draw plans for an already existing house, the potential for serious errors (measurement, etc.) is enough to make me think that it's a bad idea to use it as the method to design a house.

Sketchup was meant for people who knew what they were doing to be able to play with basic ideas (i.e. sketch) in software, and if you just want to play with basic forms it's pretty interesting. But if you don't know how to do technical drawing/architecture I don't think you'll be able to put it to much use for actually designing your house down to furniture placement.

Or more to the point, I think you will be able to design the house, but that you'll be endlessly frustrated if you try to actually build it.

If you just want to design a house that will never be built, Sketchup would be pretty good. The Sims 3 (or even 2) is actually also not a bad suggestion if this is a fantasy exercise, although the engine is pretty limited.
posted by illovich at 7:27 AM on November 18, 2009

Ikea has an application which lets you model their furniture, but I think it only works on a room by room basis. Ikea Planner Tools
posted by baserunner73 at 12:12 AM on November 19, 2009

Sweet Home 3D gets pretty close to what you're looking for, and it's fairly easy to use.
posted by dilettanti at 11:16 AM on November 19, 2009

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