Interior Design Software I Use + Design Examples

Interior Design Software I Use + Design Examples

Planning a renovation, redecorating, or starting a landscaping project? Want to know how it’ll look before you make the investment?

Yeah, me too…which is why I never start a project without virtually designing it first.

Per your request, I’m sharing the design software I use, what sort of work each is best suited for, along with lots (LOTS!) of examples. Some of these programs may be a bit unconventional for interior design, but you have to remember that I was formally trained in graphic design and worked in the field for over a decade, so oftentimes I prefer Photoshop or Illustrator because it’s most efficient for me.

The program that I choose for a specific project depends on two main factors:

  • Who am I designing for? (i.e. myself, the blog, or a client)
  • What am I designing? (i.e. floorplans, moodboards, 3-D room renderings)

We’ll cover each of these in greater detail, below.

First up: Adobe Photoshop.

If all you’re after is seeing how certain products look together, then I recommend Photoshop or Illustrator. Both are perfect for creating moodboards – and I’ll share several of mine next.

Below is a kitchen moodboard I created for our latest reno.

A moodboard is a quick idea of how different design elements, finishes, materials, etc. will fit together. It’s basically an inspiration collage of design elements that evoke a certain mood – hence, the name. I like to create a moodboard for every room I design; it helps me zero in on which materials and finishes fit the aesthetic I’m going for.

Even more Photoshop moodboards can be found in the following posts:

Photoshop is also great for creating vignettes. I wouldn’t recommend this approach for a professional client, but if I’m designing for myself or to share on the blog, then it does the job – not to mention, it’s super efficient.

Basically, you have three options for using Photoshop to create vignettes.

The first option is to search the internet for products you want to incorporate into your design. Then, use Photoshop to manipulate the perspective of each layer until you create your desired vignette.

Below is an example of a Photoshop vignette. It’s the master bathroom at the Edgmon Ranch, and the final results are right below it. You can see more of the final reveal here.

The Master Bathroom Design Plan, Moodboard + Before Images

Edgmon Ranch: Master Bathroom Reveal Tour

The second approach works best with rooms that are empty – which, obviously, is not always an option.

First, take a photo of the empty room you’re designing. Then, follow the same steps as with option 1, basically Photoshopping your 3-D room in the most literal sense of the word.

Below are a couple examples, along with photos of the end results. The first is Mila’s nursery (view the full tour here).

Spring 2017 One Room Challenge, Week 1: A Modern Glam Nursery for Our Baby GirlSmall Nursery Layout & 3-D Room Mockup

Another example of using Photoshop to create room vignettes can be seen below. It’s the living room at our bungalow (view the final tour here). Again, you see the photo of the empty room, then the Photoshopped version, then the final results (with a couple changes to the design plan).

One Room Challenge, Week 1: The Living Room Renovation One Room Challenge, Week 6: Living Room Tour and Sources

The third option for using Photoshop is if you’re considering several options of a specific product and don’t quite know which will look best with your current furniture selections and colors.

For example, say you want to see which sconce would look best in your living room. You’d snap a photo of that room and use Photoshop to render a couple options of the sconces to help you decide on which ones to buy.

Below are a couple examples for when we were renovating the fireplace in our old bungalow as part of the One Room Challenge back in 2016.

Fireplace Makeover: Painting the Brick Fireplace White Fireplace Makeover: Painting the Brick Fireplace White Fireplace Makeover: Painting the Brick Fireplace White

Spoiler alert: We went with option 1 – and here it is in all its Christmas 2016 splendor.

2018 Holiday Gift Guides, Part 2: Newly-Married Friend, Mister, Traveler + the Fashionable

If you’d like more examples of using Photoshop to create room vignettes, or non-professional “renderings,” check out the posts below:

Next: Adobe Illustrator.

Illustrator also works for moodboards, roundups and basic vignettes, but on top of that, it’s a great (and quick!) tool for making floorplans.

Granted, it’s not conventional. But as I already mentioned, it’s second-nature to me so I often choose it over other more complex software.

Below are a couple floorplans I created using Illustrator. You can read more about those specific projects here and here.

Hanging Pendants Over an Angled Peninsula The Master Bathroom Design Plan, Moodboard + Before Images

Next, let’s look at FloorPlanner.

I first discovered FloorPlanner in 2015. We had just bought our 1930 bungalow and were beginning demo to reconfigure the entire floorplan.

The program allows you to design and decorate in 2- and 3-D, but its biggest strength is its functionality as a floor planner – which is precisely why I chose it back in 2015.

Another major bonus: It’s simple to use and easy to learn. But most importantly, FloorPlanner’s free features far exceed that of most other 3-D design programs I looked into. The customization available may not be as elaborate as that of other software, but that hasn’t created any issues for me thus far.

In summary, if you’re after software that doesn’t require a steep learning curve but offers impressive features for free, Floorplanner is for you.

Below is probably my most detailed project I created using FloorPlanner: our bungalow.

Home Renovation Report | Interior Decor PlanHome Renovation Report | Interior Decor Plan

Now, let’s look at IKEA Home Planner.

The most ideal scenario in which to use this software is, obviously, if you’re shopping IKEA for your project. Otherwise you run into retail-specific measurement differences.

But if you know what you’re doing, you can use the software for non-IKEA projects, too. Below I’ve included examples of both.

The next four images are of the Edgmon Ranch kitchen. Stay tuned to the blog – I’ll be sharing the final reveal soon!

What I especially like about the IKEA home planner is that you can view your design in 2-D, 3-D line drawings, and realistic 3-D. The images below are in 3-D line drawings.

How to Reconfigure a Kitchen Layout How to Reconfigure a Kitchen Layout How to Reconfigure a Kitchen Layout How to Reconfigure a Kitchen Layout

The following rendering is also from the Edgmon Ranch kitchen, but I had to pull it into Photoshop to make a couple of edits that the IKEA software wasn’t capable of. It’s not the ideal scenario, but it works.

Hanging Pendants Over an Angled Peninsula

Below is our bungalow kitchen, also designed using IKEA’s software.

The handle placement was having technical issues, which is something I’ve noticed again and again within the software. Other than that, you can see a realistic 3-D rendering, along with 2-D floorplan drawings. I’ve also included a photo of the final results, but you can see more of that kitchen here.

12 Tips for Buying IKEA Kitchen Cabinets 12 Tips for Buying IKEA Kitchen Cabinets 12 Tips for Buying IKEA Kitchen Cabinets 12 Tips for Buying IKEA Kitchen Cabinets

Next, we have RoomStyler.

I’ve only used this program a handful of times, and for whatever reason I always return to Floorplanner. Whatever time I have spent in RoomStyler, it’s always appeared quite basic to me. Honestly, I just don’t think I’ve given it the necessary time.

I do like that I can search view others’ public projects; that definitely gives me ideas for what this program is truly capable of.

Below is one project I created using RoomStyler.

Other Interior Design Software + Programs

I have briefly dabbled in SketchUp and RoomSketcher but found issues with both. SketchUp is supposedly the most comprehensive free 3-D design software on the web, but I found some of its features unnecessarily complex for the projects I needed done, and yet other features weren’t as customizable as I would’ve expected.

RoomSketcher is another professional design program that comes highly recommended across the web. The description and demo sound quite appealing. But I quickly learned that the free version was very, very limiting; even most basic features like generating a 2-D floorplan of your design require an upgrade.

Other popular interior design software and programs I’m curious to try:

Have any of you had experience with any of these?

Any other questions about interior design programs or software? Would you like to see tutorials for anything specific? Maybe how I create a moodboard or a vignette in Photoshop?

Let me know, and I’m happy to share if there is enough interest! I realize this is more of a behind-the-scenes look at blogging and interior design, but hopefully you’ve found the post useful or, at the very least, interesting.

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