Wouldn’t it be great if you could see what your design ideas actually look like before you implement them? You can — for free! There’s no need to buy computer programs, books or tutorials; simply read this list of the best free online virtual programs for planning and designing your home.
We found the programs below to be easy to use without prior knowledge of using space planning software. They also allow you to accomplish more than one task, such as choosing from a gallery of decor and finishes and laying out rooms and spaces. Most importantly, they are all free.
Try out paint color and move walls, all without buying a thing! But first, be sure to read 10 Floor Plan Mistakes and How To Avoid Them In Your Home.
1. Planner 5D
Planner 5D is the most extensive free room-design tool on the market. It’s easy to design rooms down to the smallest architectural details, including windows, stairs and partitions. Don’t stop at interiors; it also lets you do landscaping and pools, all with stunning 3D graphics.
If you want to upload your own floor plan, or play around with preloaded floor plans, this program is for you. The Roomstyler 3D Home Planner (formerly My Deco 3D Planner) allows you to insert walls, doors and windows and select from a gallery of interior finishes.
The interface is relatively simple to use, and allows you to view your plan and 3D image at the same time. You can move the camera around the plan to see different views, and even paint the walls and ceilings from an extensive color selection.
Real products are used for inserting into your model. You can choose from small kitchen appliances to garden tools in your garage. If you love the decor you put into your rendered model, click on the “Available for purchase” button and you can find out the price, and where to buy the real objects for your own home.
You can use the software without joining, or join and upload your model to your Facebook wall for your friends to see. A free app is also available.
When you flip through the Ikea catalog, do you ever wish you could see how, say, a certain bookshelf and desk would look in your space? You can! Its free, easy-to-use home planner tools allow you to configure your floor plan, choose from the store’s gallery of furniture and decor, calculate the cost, and then print out and take the list to your local Ikea store.
Ikea has also designed a planner tool specifically for your kitchen; it allows you to preview appliances, cabinetry and other Ikea kitchen components all on your computer. This program also lets you itemize a shopping list of the Ikea components so you can see how much your new kitchen will cost.
By entering your current dimensions and openings (doors and windows), you can plan how the space will work and see which of the store’s cabinetry, appliances and organizational products will meet your needs.
Do you hate having to take home dozens of material samples at several stores to try out all the combinations in your space? Problem solved. Armstrong has a nice 3D virtual program that allows you to see different color combinations of flooring, cabinetry, ceilings, walls and even countertops from the comfort of your home.
Design a Room allows you to choose a room in your home, pick a style (contemporary, traditional, global fusion) and play around with colors, textures and finishes. Choosing finishes in a room can be a daunting task, but this program allows you to choose from Armstrong’s entire inventory of finishes. You can even coordinate Sherwin Williams, PPG and Benjamin Moore paint colors to go with your cherry hardwood or onyx ceramic tile floor.
This design tool is for those of you who want to see the result before redesigning a room (and before paying a dime). The best thing about this free tool is the ability to learn about the products before you buy them. For example, when designing a bathroom, you might see a note saying hardwood flooring isn’t recommended. This ensures that your room will not only look cool, but also be functional.
Autodesk, creator of AutoCAD, REVIT and 3ds Studio Max, is known for its professional design programs for designing buildings, 3D building information modeling and 3D rendering capabilities. It also has a great program for planning home/office/apartment spaces called Homestyler.
This user-friendly program doesn’t require formal training like the other professional programs the company offers. To make floor plans, simple drag-and-drop functions allow you to create dimension and even make angled walls within your design.
Doors and windows come in a variety of choices and require no prior knowledge of types, clearances, etc. Homestyler’s 3D floor planner and 3D room designer tools can be used by a first timer; professionals can purchase the Homestyler PRO version.
The furnish and decorate tool allows you to choose cabinetry, appliances, furniture and nearly every decor item you can think of. Then personalize your space with area rugs and finish items by several manufacturers. Once your design is complete, you can print it out.
For those who want to do it yourself, the next few programs are for you. After you have planned out how the spaces will look, you are ready to start buying the materials and getting started, right? The Home Renovator lets you choose from among insulation, drywall, paint, ceramic tile, ceiling tile and deck (design/build) projects.
You can use the site’s free worksheets to measure your space, enter your measurements and review your tool requirements. You’ll then get a report that tells you how much material is required for your project; a budget price that can be used to negotiate with local dealers; and illustrated instructions that show cutting and placement of materials.
This 3D software is ideal for those who want more customization options to the average room and decor space planning program. The online software is free (login and some information is required). A more advanced version of Sweet Home 3D can also be downloaded for saving, exporting and manipulation of your home plans.
The interface has four sections. The furniture catalog allows you to choose components by name, then drag and drop components directly into the floor plan. The home furniture list displays the dimensions of each piece by name and size.
The home plan shows you in a 2D format where the walls, windows, doors and furniture are placed (as viewed from above). The home 3D view shows your plan in three dimensions so you can visualize the plan as you design.
To bring in your floor plan, import it into Sweet Home 3D, scale it and trace over your plan so you don’t have any guesswork. This program can be simple, but it has advanced features for those who want more from their 3D virtual planning experience.
Smartdraw is a suite of programs for visual graphics and presentations, including project charts, timelines, marketing charts and flow charts. Under the flow-chart application are floor plans and individual room plans.
This program allows you to design, customize and present drawings on a beginner and professional level. Use it to plan office space, apartments, individual rooms and even building elevations. SmartDraw is ideal for individuals or a business that doesn’t want to spend a lot for design software. It has a free trial period, and if you’re satisfied you can purchase the full program.
With an almost infinite selection of furniture, cars, building materials and preloaded plans, SmartDraw offers a lot of bang for the buck. If you are computer-savvy and enjoy adding a multitude of content and specifications to your design, this program is ideal for you.
HomeByMe is a downloadable free room-planning tool. Start in 2D and build your room from the ground up, finishing with furniture and accessories. Once you’re ready, convert it to 3D, where the walls fall away and you can look inside the interior design plan you created.
There are plenty of free online 3D virtual programs that will allow you to plan, design, draw and view your space. Depending on your skill level, objective and how you want to present your final drawings, there is a program perfect for you.
Whether you want to play around or start building a home to your personal specifications, this list of top 10 best free online virtual programs and tools will help you get started.