Design the perfect home using online tools - MoneySense

Design the perfect home using online tools

Renovating can be cheap and cheerful or it can drain your cash, but you don’t need to spend a red cent to see whether the look is drab or fab with these online planning tools.


The Internet makes everything easier. Just ask anyone who actually remembers producing book reports using research from an Encyclopedia. The fact is the World Wide Web simplifies any project and amplifies the breadth and reach of any inquiry.

And that’s great news if you’re planning on renovating or redecorating. Now, a number of online tools make it much easier for you to plan (and visualize) changes even before you pick up a paintbrush or pick a fabric swatch.

So if you’re planning to refresh your outdoor or indoor space (because you need a change or you’re planning to sell) here’s a few (mostly) free, online tools to help you get started:

Colour a room: Painting a cheap and cheerful way of updating any room, or your entire home. And a few easy online tools lets you see a paint colour before it’s on the wall. One tool is the Sherwin Williams Visualizer. With this tool you can either use one of the preloaded rooms, or you can take a picture of your own room/home and upload that image to use a template. You can also download the mobile app that allows you to take your redesign ideas to the paint store. Another tool is offered by Better Homes & Garden. The Colour-a-Room tool allows you to change colours on pre-selected rooms and home features. For instance, you can test out a new roof colour, or you can change colours on different elements of pre-loaded rooms. The tool also allows you try out a limited number of window treatments colours.

Plan a garden: Landscaping is another area that can cost a little or a lot. But by using online tools you can predetermine how to get the biggest bang for your garden buck. The free tool from Better Homes & Gardens (it requires you to register) lets you plan your garden by starting with one of four blank “layouts.” But you can always reshape the dimensions of the layout to fit your garden or needs.

Design a deck: With the Design-a-Deck tool from Better Homes & Gardens you can pick your deck’s dimensions and then add different elements, such as BBQs and benches. Or use the Plan3D program which allows you to plan rooms as well as landscapes, but costs $2.95 per month. For information on designing a deck, check out Rona’s site. While the DIY-store doesn’t offer an online tool, it does offer quite a bit of information on the best materials and designs based on your deck and patio needs

Re-arrange furniture: Want to redesign a room using your existing furniture? Try Better Homes & GardensArrange-a-Room tool. The tool lets you re-arrange furniture and add and change different elements and colour schemes.

Power of 3D: Tired of 2D recreations?  Want to design a room and see a realistic rendition of your design? Try the MyDeco free 3D design tool. With almost 7,500 room 3D room layouts to start with you can mix and match furniture and colours to get find your ideal design and colour scheme. Another 3D option is the Armstrong Design tool.

The perfect kitchen: Kitchens are an expensive remodel and, for that reason, no one wants to make a mistake. And with online or free tools, such as Ikea’s Home Planner, you can build the perfect kitchen before you even lift a hammer. You can also use Autodesk’s Homestyler tool that allows you to drag and drop elements into a layout and help you create the perfect room. Another free tool is the Google Sketch Up, however, as a more technical drawing tool there’s a bit of a learning curve before you can fully utilize the tool.

Starting from scratch: If you have a clean slate then try Floorplanner’s tool. You’ll need to register for a free account, but the online tool allows you to create a room from scratch based on drag and drop technology.