Design software for the homeowner?
June 3, 2013 1:05 PM   Subscribe

I have a few household projects for which I'd like to mock-up some designs. Mostly pressingly a bathroom, and after that garage storage, landscape design, and other things. What is the best (free, or individual consumer-priced) software to get the job done?

I know that I could use generalized tools such as Visio, Illustrator, or Inkscape, but since I don't need to make flowcharts or design posters, I'm wondering if there are tools out there that are more specialized to interior design mockups that I should be checking out.

Basically, I'd like to be able to give it the dimensions of a non-rectangular room, and for there to be easy template shapes for common items (with some sizing options). Extra bonus points if it can quickly give me estimates for things like: square footage, # of ceiling tiles of a given size needed, # of gallons of paint needed to cover walls, etc.

In my head, this software would be more flexible than a hardware store "design-your-deck" kiosk, but less open ended than a full blown vector drawing solution.

Free would be ideal, but I'd be willing to pay for a tool that gets the job done. I'm not a professional who would be using this to create designs for customers/bid jobs so my price limit is pretty low, definitely less than $100.
posted by sparklemotion to Home & Garden (4 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
I use Google Sketch Up and really like it. I watched a 10 minute tutorial and from that was able to build our house. I used it primarily to work on the landscaping since we're terracing part of the yard and wanted to fiddle with designs but my husband really likes being able to use the inside dimensions to plan his projects. It's not a program I think you could just fire up and know how to use but they have really good tutorials and after just the intro I was able to make our house, I'm pretty sure with a few more I could do something more ambitious, but meh.
posted by julie_of_the_jungle at 1:20 PM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Well, not to be a smart-ass, but The Sims is kind of good for that and it's fun!

Husbunny bought me this House Beautiful Design software because I like playing with my Sims so much.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:21 PM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Floorplanner can do some of this, easily (and free), but pretty sure it won't do calculations of tiles needed, etc.
posted by homesickness at 2:10 PM on June 3, 2013

Sweet home 3d is really nice for room interiors and layouts. It's free and a lot easier than proper 3d modelling software. Don't let the cutesy name put you off!
posted by samj at 10:17 PM on June 3, 2013

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