Design tools for planning home interiors

I am very supportive of working with an interior designer for the construction, renovation or redesign of a home. Vouchers will save you money, especially in the long run, and the skill required to bring your wishes to life consistently and efficiently should not be underestimated.

However, maybe it’s just out of budget, or you’re confident in your own design abilities, or you want to play around with certain designs and layouts yourself before going to an interior designer. In this case, there are excellent tools that are easy to use.

I’ll only offer free, easy-to-use tools here – there are plenty of more complex professional tools that we can look at another time!


Before you design anything, you need to know the dimensions of your space. This may come from the architect’s drawings or your own measurements, but make sure they are accurate! You can also have the locations of all current electrical outlets, switches and light fixtures. Alternatively, you can add them after you’ve finalized your room layout. Windows and doors should also be drawn here, as well as any built-in units or fixed elements such as beams or windows.

The view from Jennifer’s main living room towards the hall and stairs. Photo: Moya Nolan


Maybe you already have a good idea of ​​the styles and colors you want, but if you don’t, it’s worth getting some inspiration. Browse as many images as you can and save any you like.

The best tool here is Pinterest (it’s free!). Create a table, and create subcategories by room. Browse photos of interiors that will suit your home – you can start simply with search terms such as “cottage kitchen” or “modern living room”. Once you save some photos that you like, the Pinterest recommendation engine is very good at recommending more images that match your tastes. If you prefer to keep things physical, you can cut out pictures from interior magazines (or this paper!).

The mood board created for Jennifer by Caroline Maguire Interiors.
The mood board created for Jennifer by Caroline Maguire Interiors.


Once you’ve saved enough photos, you’ll start to see your favorite style appear. You can review and identify the elements that drew you to these photos – colors, patterns, layouts, furniture styles, etc. Once you’ve defined your favorite colors and styles, you can put your favorite options together in a mood board to see how they work together. .

My favorite tool here is Canva, creating a simple table for personal use is free. Play around combining your favorite colors and design styles, and see how they look together. If you prefer to keep things physical, you can stick your cutout images on a poster board.

If you have one or more favorite colors, you can generate a palette to help you choose complementary accent colors. The website is a great free tool for this – you can upload a photo of your favorite color and the tool will generate a few palettes. Most paint websites will also offer options to complement your favorite color.

Then you can start collecting samples to bring your mood board to life. Almost any retailer will provide samples of paint, wallpaper, fabric, tile, carpet, flooring, handles – perhaps at a low cost. It’s absolutely worth taking this step to make sure what you see in a photo or on a website is true to life.

Once you’ve finalized these items, you should bring these samples with you whenever you’re looking for larger items – or when you’re tempted to buy smaller accessories! Sometimes colors look right in the store, but don’t quite work when you take them home.


Now that you have an idea of ​​what you like, you can start browsing stores and make a list of items you want in your home. You need to make sure these will fit well in your space, and so we need to go back to your floor plan and play with different layouts. PowerPoint is a very simple tool for you to play with shapes and sizes. (If you don’t have PowerPoint installed, you can use Google Sheets for free.) You can import your floor plan and then create shapes that approximate furniture or other items you want.

This will help you decide where to place items and what sizes you have room for. Of course, you can also use paper, a pencil and a ruler for this exercise. Remember to measure everything three times before buying!

If you’re more digitally savvy, SketchUp is a great tool for taking your layout planning from 2D to 3D. It’s free for personal use. It takes some getting used to, but there are plenty of video tutorials online to help you. SketchUp has a built-in library of materials such as various woods, carpets, tiles, etc. Once you get the hang of it, it’s incredibly comprehensive, allowing you to create a realistic representation of your future home and make decisions much easier.

Questions and answers


What is the name of the herringbone floor and who supplied it?

And did you have to make a lot of decisions about your interiors yourself or should your architect not help you?

To respond

My floor is LVT from Moduleo, small herringbone in Blackjack Oak, supplied by Deco Designs which I was very happy with.

I think it’s up to you how much of the decision-making you want to take on yourself and how much to leave to your architect or interior designer. If you want a more hands-on approach, I recommend looking for someone with a strong aesthetic that you like. If you want to get more involved, I recommend looking for someone who tailors their designs more to the tastes of their clients.

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