Arguably, the most important part of any home renovation is planning. That’s’ why we’ve decided to review four of the most popular free room planners online.
Room planners are an excellent resource for homeowners who need help visualizing what their remodeled space will look like. They can show you what different types of flooring, paint colours, and furniture will look in your room. Typically, they are manipulated via drag and drop functionality and allow you to place furniture, colour walls, and even build entire rooms.
Here is what we found:
Urban Barn – The Make Room
Purpose: Design the structure and furnishings in any room.
Ease of Use: Easy
Overview: The idea behind this space planner is good. You can either choose from a few different pre-designed room plans, or you can create a room from scratch with custom shapes, sizes and even measurements. Once you’ve chosen your room, you will then be offered two different tabs from which you’ll choose the things that go into your space. One tab is marked Products and the other is Generic Symbols.
The Generic symbols section houses different categories of furniture types and architectural components, such as walls, windows, doors, etc. You can click and drag these items into your space, then rotate, resize, and colour them as needed. They are basic line drawings, so you really just get an understanding of the layout and not how these items will look together.
The second section is called Products. When you click on this tab, you are shown actual products from Urban Barn. These products are subdivided by room and furniture type. When you click on each item, it pulls up a box that displays information about the product including dimensions, name, price, and inevitably a link to it on the website.
Unfortunately, when you go to drag the item into your room plan, it only displays as a line drawing, and not as the product itself. We think that this is a missed opportunity to show what these products could actually look like in a customer’s home.
Purpose: Change the flooring, walls and wood furniture in your space.
Ease of Use: Moderate
Overview: The primary reason for using this planner is to visualize your new flooring. It gives you options to see hardwood, laminate, and vinyl. Flooring rotation allows you to place floor planks horizontally, vertically or diagonally on the floor. Uses Sherwin Williams paint swatches and Minwax stain colours. Use preloaded rooms or upload your own room.
Using a preloaded room allows for smoother definitions between walls, floors, and furniture. However, there’s nothing like the personalization of seeing the changes made to your own room.
When working with an uploaded image you have to use the planner’s tools to define the different spaces (flooring, walls, etc). Outlining the space is simply a matter of clicking points, and is basically easy to use. Chances are, you’ll need to go back in with the eraser tool to clean up any places that may have overlapped furniture.
If you’re like us, you will end up using the eraser tool quite a bit, since the outlining tool drawing tools require a bit of a steady hand.
There’s also the flooring angle chooser, which is meant to give you the right view of the flooring once it goes on in the picture. We found it a little hard to figure out at first. Although after playing around with it we were able to create the right perspective without making the planks look too stretched out.
We liked having the ability to see the three different changes all together. New paint and new flooring, along with furniture of a different colour. We just wish it were a little easier to define the boundaries.
Purpose: Create 3D rendered rooms from scratch
Ease of Use: Moderate to Hard
Overview: This is by far our favourite of all the room designers we tested out. It’s both filled with features and yet not too complicated for the average person to figure out. However, if you’re just starting out, we highly suggest watching the Room Styler tutorials before or even while you get acclimated with the site.
You get stated by creating your room shape, either from a library of existing shapes, or from scratch. The 3D aspect of this room designers comes from a little camera icon that sits within the drawing of the room. Simply click and drag the camera to different spots in the space in order to see that area in 3D.
Once you have your walls in place, you can add architectural elements like doors, windows, beams and more. Then paint the walls or add wallpaper, change the flooring, add furniture, and even change the position of the sun. There are over 12,000 brand name furniture and décor items, which are 3D rendered along with the rest of the room.
Room Styler allows complete customization of pretty much anything you can think of. With a little work you can truly recreate any room in your house, or go all out and design the room of your dreams.
Supporting the 3D room designer is an entire community of designers, homeowners, and dreamers who’ve created rooms and saved them to their profiles. Some of these rooms are kept private, but many are publicly shared.
Purpose: Build and decorate a room or an entire house
Ease of Use: Advanced
Overview: While the messaging on the help topics page would like us to believe that this tool requires no special computer skills, we aren’t entirely sure that’s true. Don’t get us wrong, that isn’t a knock against Planning Wiz. This is a very robust space planning tool; however, it really does come with a rather steep learning curve.
The space planner provides the option to get started with several predefined plans or to create your own room from scratch. Unfortunately, the majority of these plans are for entire floors, apartments, and even trailers. So, if you’re just looking for an L-shaped kitchen, you must design it from scratch.
Building from scratch also has its fair share of issues, the biggest being that this tool really seems to slow your computer way down. The time spent waiting for all of the furniture to render nearly forced us to abandon Planning Wiz altogether.
Slowness aside, there are two ways that you can go about designing your room –either in 3D mode or PIP mode, which is more of a 2D view down from the ceiling. We preferred the look of 3D mode, since it gave us a better look at the furniture going in and the spacing. However, it slowed the computer down even more.
While there are many furniture items to choose from, including some from Ikea and other brands, the slowness of the system made it an absolute chore to use. In the end, it could simply be that this isn’t a tool for the average homeowner to use, and more of a professional resource.