Category Archives: Home Design

Best Home Design Software

For folks who are looking for a home design software that is not only easy to use, but more importantly, equipped with the best tools for all types of designing needs, then perhaps it’s time to stop searching. Famed home design software producer Chief Architect has once again come out with a product that is definitely going to be there or thereabouts when talking about the best home design software in the business. With Architectural Home Designer, users can make use of a variety of designing tools for remodeling and home design that covers cost estimation, site planning, landscaping, decks, baths, kitchens, as well as entire interior designs.

Everything in One Package

What makes a good home design software is its ability to strike a balance between a user friendly interface and excellent outputs. However, aside from this combination, what makes a great home design software is its integration of all types of remodeling and design tools that will satisfy all of its users needs. It must be an all-in-one design solution which should leave users with a feeling that they could no longer ask for anything more. Architectural Home Designer is one type of software which is just that.

With this amazing piece of software, users can choose from thousands of sample plans which they can use as a basis for their designs. Also available are a myriad of different home style templates that can be used in line with either the House Wizard Feature, or customized fully to suit the user’s wishes. Architectural Home Designer also features highly effective building tools such as automatic generation of foundations, framing, stairs, dormers, and roofs. This program also makes use of the most artistic rendering methods to come up with the likes of Technical, Glass House, or even Watercolor illustrations.

Excellent for Interior Design

Although Architectural Home Designer is indeed an excellent program for both deck designs and landscaping, its strength lies in its interior design capabilities. For starters, there’s the Material Painter feature which allows users to easily apply all types of materials and colors on their walls and scene objects. Users can choose from thousands of different textures and colors which are brought to life by the digital photograph feature. Also on board is the Smart Design Objects feature which lets users literally drag and drop thousands of objects from the program’s extensive library which has been excellently categorized by object types.

Quick and Hassle-Free Startup

What makes Architectural Home Designer even more impressive is it allows users to get started quickly and without any unwanted hassles. Aside from the Quick Startup Options Guide, there’s also the very useful House Wizard feature which allows users to easily lay out rooms in a very uncomplicated manner. As mentioned earlier, the program is also loaded with hundreds of different templates that come in full color and are complete with all sorts of objects and fixtures. Also included are 40 helpful training videos that provide step-by-step instructions on how to get started on a home design project. Further support is also provided on the publisher’s online help system which gives even more detailed information on all sorts of designing projects.

Best Value Home Design Software

There is more than just a few home design software available in the market today. Although a majority of these programs are able to deliver excellent functionality, there are some that just don’t deliver value for money. While so home design applications retail for less than $50, there are those that have quite a hefty price tag, sometimes even in the 500-dollar region. It then becomes a question of needs rather than wants. In order for a user to ensure that he is purchasing a piece of software that will be worth his money, he will first need to identify what it is he wants from the said program.

Painting the Picture

Now down to only $49 (formerly at $69), Better Homes and Gardens Picture Painter Home & Landscape is definitely one of the best value home design software out there. This program takes a unique approach in home design in that it makes use of an actual picture as the basis of each project – thus the name, Picture Painter. What this one of a kind software does is it takes an actual image of the existing house (which is either scanned or uploaded by the user to the computer) and integrates it into the program to allow the users to tinker with its design. Instead of starting from scratch, Picture Painter allows users to literally repaint their homes to see what it would look like in different colors. And of course, there are a lot more features on board that will allow users to play with their homes’ designs in their quest to find the perfect look and feel for their future dream house.

Never Wonder Again

One of the reasons why a lot of folks have their qualms about redesigning their homes is because of the fear that it might not look good once the remodeling phase is completed. With the help of Picture Painter, users will no longer have to wonder and speculate ever again as this program will show them exactly how their new house will look like once the changes have taken place. Aside from changing the home’s color, users can also change the textures of their exteriors. Moreover, landscaping changes can also be visually represented on Picture Painter to ensure that users get exactly what they want. This way, a lot of time, money, and effort is saved.

Great for Interiors Too

While Picture Painter focuses on how one’s home’s exterior will look like, it also offers a wide array of features for any changes one might wish to make inside the house. For starters, users can choose from over 6,000 branded furniture and fixtures and literally drag them into whichever room they’d like. Among these renowned brands are Huntwood, Kraftmaid, Armstrong, Mohawk, LG Electronice, Whirlpool, DuPont Corian, Sherwin-Williams, and a whole lot more.

What’s even better is that the whole process is quite simple and very user-friendly – it’s just like editing a picture. In fact, the manufacturer even promises that no design experience whatsoever is needed to excel in this wonderfully-designed program.

Home Designer Software

Most of the home design software products in the market run on the PC platform with just a few on the MAC OS X computing environment. Here are a few stand-out home design solutions running either exclusively on the Mac or on both Mac and PC workstations.

Punch! Home Design Studio

Retailing for just less than a hundred dollars, the Punch! Home design Studio made popular on the PC has been ported on the Mac with the same features that let you realize on the screen your dream house, inside and out. It can now take advantage of the excellent 3D graphics capabilities of the Mac to render fast 3D drawing of your designs with the usual multi-angle views and textured realism that Punch! Home Design Studio can deliver.

3D Home Architect Home and Landscape Deluxe Suite10

Coming down a bit with lesser features and sophistication is the Architect Home and Landscape Deluxe Suite 10 from 3D Home. Costing just a third of the Punch! Home Design Studio at $36 from Amazon, the suite gets the job done for most homeowners who are not really as interested in designing their dream houses but would like a simple tool that can save them the cost of hiring a professional architect. You get the same 2D and 3D rendering and modeling features with its expensive drag and drop library of design elements that make designing your house and landscaping around it a breeze.

MacDraft

Coming in two flavors, the Pro and the Personal Edition versions, this is basically a 2D drawing tool that does a good job at drafting and creating floor plans as 2D views of your house design project. IA bit pricey at $320 for the Pro and half that on the Personal Edition, either product is as sophisticated as any home-bound CAD-based vector drawing software which can also read AutoCAD files as imports.

Interiors Professional

A $250 value, this is arguably one of the best interior designing tool for the Mac platform. It also has one of the most user-friendly controls for creating some of the best looking interiors with excellent textures and lighting effects in 3D-rendered models. Targeted for both the novice and professional interior designer, the software is easy to learn and use with a library of 3D design objects like furniture, planters and appliances to mention some while allowing you to create your own.

Home Designer Suite

As a home design software developer, Chief Architect has always had the reputation of publishing programs that are not only highly effective, but also easy to use. Over the years they have come out with a number of home design software, each having its unique twist. Some target the more advanced users such as professional builders or serious designers.

On the other hand, they also have programs that are a bit on the lighter side as they hope to bring out the fun in designing. Among the latter is the Home Designer Suite – a complete home design software package that aims to make the entire design process as easy and as fun as possible. At only $99, it also comes with a fair price tag to pay considering its comprehensive feature set.

Powerful Yet Easy

The trademark of Chief Architect programs is that aside from bringing powerful design tools to the hands of their users, these programs are also very easy to use and quick to learn. Home Designer Suite is no different. It is an excellent tool for those who wish to create the perfect landscaping, remodeling, or home design plans. There are a variety of wizards that will make things a lot easier for users; among them is the House Wizard which holds numerous built-in templates for users to choose from. There’s even over a thousand sample plans available which should help users visualize their new home designs.

For those who may encounter any problems using Home Designer Suite, there is a variety of support mechanisms available. Loads of training videos and “how to” tutorials should provide more than enough help and support for any type of problem.

Great for Kitchens and Bathrooms

Home Designer Suite is also an excellent program for designing or remodeling one’s kitchen and bathroom. One can end up designing the kitchen of his or her dreams by adding new appliances and moving walls with ease. The same goes with bathroom designs as Home Designer Suite lets its users visualize their ideas in full 3D. One of the best features of Home Designer Suite is the addition of the Cabinet Designer Tool. Here, users can construct custom cabinets in a matter of a few minutes. Almost every part of the cabinets are customizable including door styles, countertops, and colors. With this new feature on board, users can be sure to come up with the most unique cabinets that will suit their overall theme without a hitch.

Virtual Tours Abound

Users need not worry about ending up with a designs that they’re not 100% satisfied with. Thanks to the various preview modes made available by Home Designer Suite, users will surely have the designs that they actually want. Designing in 3D is an option through the program’s virtual camera that enables a point-and-click feature.

Better Homes and Gardens Home Designer

The magazine staff and editors of Better Homes and Gardens have come with a design solution for the intrepid homeowner wanting to realize his/her dream house. The Better Homes and Gardens Home Designer Suite 8.0 is the latest edition of that effort that started years back and has become popular among American novice designers and even professional architects and home builders.

Getting to see your dream house with uncanny 3D realism on your PC has never been as easy with a software application tool that can make just about anyone a home designer. You just need to make sure your desktop or laptop PC is powerful enough to render 3D modeling. Not to worry, the software package comes with the recommended PC configuration you need.

Indulge your Imagination

The Better Homes and Gardens Home Designer Suite 8.0 gives reign to your innate design skills the better for you to visualize your dream home on the PC. But even people without artistic talent can to it.

  • Automatic Designing Tools. The Suite has 5,000 competent and easy to use building blocks and tools to simplify getting your design looking real. For starters, you design your lot and backyard terrain with the Automatic Build Terrain and Terrain Perimeter tool that can be aided with a GPS terrain elevation data. Add pools and other landscaping details like fences and driveways from its landscaping library. Generate house roofs, ceiling beams, floor patterns, dormers, stairs, framing and house foundation automatically.
  • Design Templates. There are over 1,500 sample house floor plans as well as a Design Inspiration Gallery with photos by house designs categorized by type that can inspire you with your own unique design ideas. It has a library of home-style templates you can start with or create own customized house designs. There’s also the House Wizard that can automatically generate a house design for you based on information you supply.
  • Design Libraries. There are over 6000 design elements like furniture and electric fixtures, windows and doors, wall paper and floor designs and appliance, just to mention some, in its built-in library that you can just drag and drop on your design work area, or you can design your own. There’s even a Plant Encyclopedia on the side containing 1,500 popular plant species you can learn about that’s suitable in your country as indoor plant ornament in your design.
  • Online Advice. You can get free online design expertise from the Design Planning Center of Better Homes and Gardens as well as download additional design elements from the Home Designer website.
  • 3D Rendering and Virtual Tours. Once you’re done with hour house and interior designing, remodeling, landscaping, and floor planning, go into 3D simulation of light and shadows and a virtual walk-through of your dream house.
  • Project Cost Estimating. Once you’re happy with the look of your new house complete with interiors and landscaping, the Suite will estimate the cost of making your design happen, generating a spreadsheet where you also get material estimates on how much lumber and concrete is needed which creates the basis for the costing.

Elements of Modern Home Design

Updating a home involves many elements of change, which involves anything from modern furniture and artwork to room designs. A home can be transformed into a contemporary dwelling with features and accents that have a 21st century edge and style. Modern home design elements can add a touch of style and design to any home.

Modern homes can mean many things to many people, but all of them point to non-traditional style and features. Contemporary home furnishing outlets have home furnishings available, including things like glass panel kitchen cabinets and island kitchens with bar stool seating. These attractive furnishings can really serve as an attractive centerpiece for contemporary kitchen design.

Homeowners can also add updated features to their bathrooms as well to make them look neater and more spacious. Wall mounted cabinets are a great way to store bathroom items as well as give the room a decorative look. Some people choose to remodel their bathrooms with stylish vanity sets that are functional and attractive fixtures for bathing and pampering as they prepare for their day. These attractive bathroom accents add a touch of style and grace to a bathroom space.

Living room areas also lend themselves well to modern design features that can incorporate amazing colors, geometric shapes and contemporary furniture pieces. People can buy furniture coverings with vibrant colors and design patterns to enhance the modern color scheme and design. The living room will stand out and people can enjoy the contemporary feel when they entertain and relax in the room.

Room design and furnishings are not the only ways to modernize a home, however. Many homeowners are choosing to add additions to their homes to accommodate relatives or borders in addition to extra rooms, such as laundry rooms off of the kitchen or entertainment rooms the whole family can enjoy. Environmentally friendly features are also popular that help to brighten the home, save money and improve the environment. Solar paneled windows and energy efficient doors can really help to insulate a home and make it cost effective.

Home Design Plans

Home design plans are what you make of them. Or, in the event that you hire a professional house building construction company, they are what you have made of them. Either way, you can easily create your own custom home design with the help of architects and builders, or choose from an array of existing designs for your new home. It is up to you to determine which designs are best and which designers you want to work with, and here are some tips to help you along the way.

1. This is your dream home. A huge part of planning new house construction is picturing what your ideal home should look like and then going about creating it. If you are choosing from existing home design plans, find the one that best matches your desires and ideas. Ask designers and your building company if these plans can be altered to suit any particular preferences you have. Ask architects about examples of work they have done and ask building companies if they have show homes you can visit. Nothing quite compares with walking through a show home to get a feel for the living space and general design style.

2. Make sure that your designer or builder knows what they are doing. Choosing reputable companies isn’t difficult as long as you are willing to invest the effort to look. You need to be absolutely certain that your builder is going to be there for you and provide you with not only great home plans, but also with great service and support throughout the building process. If you find a builder who claims to be a Registered Master Builder, for example, make sure you ask for their registration number so that you can confirm this is so, the guarantees covered by the Master Builder program won’t mean much to you if you encounter problems during your house construction only to find your builder isn’t actually a Registered Master Builder after all. Don’t fall susceptible to the heartache and frustration many people suffer as a result of not running credential checks.

3. Choose plans and builders that match your budget and design style. This might seem obvious, but it is really easy to get swept away by a house design that costs twice what you can afford, or alternatively, choose a builder recommended by a friend whose building and design style isn’t quite what you require. No matter how you justify it, you can’t pay more than you can afford, nor have a new house construction that you are only reasonably happy with. Try to find home design plans within your price range, that also match your design style, to avoid the let down of not getting a better home due to your budget constraints and/or wrong choice of builder.

These tips may seem like basic common sense, for the most part, but they can’t be emphasised enough. People often get overzealous and forget to stop and do the simple things when they are designing a home. It is important to take things one step at a time and fully understand what you are getting involved with. This will make finding the right home design plans and builder much easier and less stressful. Everyone wants their dream home realised, and now is your chance to do that. Just keep these tips in mind to help you along the way.

Meeting With Your New Home Designer

Meeting your new home designer is the first step you can take in your journey of building a custom designed home. It’s exciting – are you excited? You should be! This is your chance to relay all of the exciting ideas you have about your dream home. This meeting is all about you you you. So how can you have a really successful meeting and give yourself the best opportunity for your home design to be as close to what you wanted, the first time round.

Tip 1 – Be Yourself

I know some of you are thinking, “who else would I be”? But you would be surprised at how many people sit in their design meeting acting like they’re attending a funeral instead of taking one of the most exciting steps life has to offer. Relax. Great home designers know what it’s like to bring your dreams to the table, they are tasked with the responsibility of delivering it.

If this is the first time you’ll be building a million dollar home, don’t think you have to act like a millionaire (or what you think millionaires might be like – some people will be surprised to find out they’re often very common). If you are yourself the home designer will get to know you, and more about what you’re like which will give them the best opportunity to putting your personality into your new house.

Tip 2 – Be Brutally Honest

If you like sex in the hallway, then tell us and we’ll make sure that hallway is the best damned hallway to have sex in. You need to be brutally honest with your lifestyle and what is most important to you. Communicating your lifestyle is the biggest challenge for most people as they may not want to draw attention to aspects of their life or perhaps they think something may just be common sense. Don’t assume that the person sitting across the table thinks like you, walks like you, talks like you or has the same values. If you love teddy bears and need additional room in the bedroom for your 101 teddies, then say it. If you’re sporty and want a gym with mirrors on the walls, then say it. If you’re an enthusiast photographer and will use one of the bedrooms as a dark room then say it.

All of the above are examples that I’ve come across during my time as a custom home builder. What’s more, the items that were being discussed had to be coaxed out of the home buyers over time. More importantly, we modified the design to suit which gave them a far better outcome than they would have got had they not told us. We changed window heights in the hallway (in fact, we did a lot of adjustments through the entire house!). We created teddy niches in the bedroom, we removed skirting boards in the gym and added a TV and power outlet point in one corner at 2.0m high and we switched the window in the dark room to the south side of the house to avoid the sun but still give enough ventilation.

Tip 3 – Enjoy The Process

Remember this is your time, relax and enjoy yourself. Make jokes and get to know the people sitting opposite you on the table. You’ll find the more comfortable you feel with your designer, the more information will flow during your design brief and the better your home will be.

Benefits of a Universal Home Design

A universal home design is a growing concept in house planning and construction that provides for changes that can occur in living such as disability issues, aging and general accessibility for everyone. Many homes today are built with the idea that no matter who the occupant is, the living spaces within as well as outside the home, should be readily used by just about anyone. A growing number of home designers, builders and contractors are embracing this concept as the baby boomer population ages and a new wave of disabled or elderly home occupants emerge.

Here are some of the best benefits of a universal home design:

Home values

If you decide to use a universal home design to build your new home, you can expect your house to be worth more at the outset than another home of similar square footage and amenities, but that is not built from a universal design. The reason is that a universally designed house is more appealing to all segments of the population because of its practicality and usability for everyone. Universally designed homes are easier to sell and acrue in value more readily.

Good planning for the future

For those who plan on living in their homes until they die, this type of house design is excellent because it will accommodate occupants in any change of life. If an occupant becomes suddenly disabled or eventually must have certain handicap amenities in areas like the bathroom due to aging issues, this design allows for changes in life that are bound to occur.

Important design elements

There are many elements of design that go into a universal home, but several of the most important are constructed into the bathroom area, kitchen, hallways and the construction level of the home. The bathroom is perhaps one of the most important areas of the home, as it is designed to be accessible by combining within the design some handicap requirements. Wider doorways for wheelchair accessiblity, nonslip flooring, wet room style spaciousness and open shower areas are just some of the common features for a handicap bath area that can be enjoyed by all.

Exploring Slow Home Design

What is slow home design? Basically, it is the principle of slowing down to design homes and spaces that are sustainable, practical and functional.

The slow home movement began in 2006 when John Brown, Matthew North, and Carina van Olm wanted to create a “critical response to the poor design practices that pervade the mass housing industry. Our intent is to advocate for a more thoughtful approach to residential design that improves the quality of our daily lives and reduces our impact on the environment”. Slow home design strives for a more “considered, calm and intuitive” approach to residential design. The concept is to use well-considered design principles to create smaller homes that will be both environmentally sustainable and literally so, in the sense of being built to endure. The practice also includes remodels of existing, appropriately sized older homes that need updating.

Brown says in an interview with The Chicago Tribune that a slow home is “reasonably sized and carefully designed to support its occupants. It might have an entry where family members can easily take off their boots, stash their keys and store their backpacks, for example. It might have a living space that encourages people to talk or read, not just watch television or surf the Internet. It’s energy efficient, filled with natural light and designed for easy flow among rooms and access to the outside.”

North, in this interview with The Calgary Herald says, “I think the boom of the big-house era is coming to an end. So those houses will be less desirable and valuable as time goes on. Expect a shift to smaller, more energy-efficient homes, North says, and a move away from homes on the fringes of cities. A decade ago, a 5,000-sq.-ft. home sounded like a dream to some. These days, that much square footage sounds like a noose around your neck. There’s uncertainty about the energy cost to heat your house.”

Slowing down to design a space that is functional, long-lasting, meets the needs of the family now and later, and is, of course, stylish and comfortable – that’s the aim of the slow home movement.

But even if you are not starting from scratch, you can still join in living a slow home lifestyle. Re-work your rooms to make sure that they are functional for your family’s everyday living. Instead of purchasing a new piece of furniture, look for family hand-me-downs or thrift store finds to re-purpose. Organize your kitchen, bathroom, closets and office using bins, jars, boxes and dishes that you already own but rarely use. Make the stuff in your home work for you and create a stylish and comfortable space that you will be happy with every day and for years to come.