Monday, April 23, 2007

Free Online Tools for Creating Your Own Floor Plans & Designs

Forget hammers and nails. Help for design projects is online. A number of free or fee-based ($15 and up) software programs enable consumers to create floor plans for the home or office.
Even if you're hiring a decorator, the programs can streamline the consulting process and avoid costly misunderstandings by providing a full-color sketch of your tastes.

Here's a sample of design programs that arrange furniture, fixtures and other accents: This free design program guides you step by step. Step one: Select colors from an online paint chart. Step two: Customize a basic grid by providing room dimensions and selecting furnishings from a broad selection of items. Step three: Rotate and arrange the furniture. The program provides floor and fixture selections and names of retail and wholesale outlets that sell the items you select. You can save, print and e-mail your floor plan to a designer or yourself.

• Online "Room Planners'': A few retail chains offer free online programs that let you design a floor plan using furniture from their showrooms. Two such chains are Ethan Allen at and Thomasville at Within 30 days, Carls plans to introduce an online design program at

Each program differs, but here are the basic steps. The room planner option is typically on the main page of the website. You will have the option of selecting either a ''prebuilt'' layout or creating your own floor plan. You can then arrange the floor plan with furniture and accessories from the store's showroom. On the Icovia Room Planner offered by Thomasville you can alter walls, redefine corners and resize furniture by clicking on icons or dragging the mouse. (The link to the room planner is on the upper right hand corner of the main page.)

To access a greater range of online design features, Thomasville requires online registration. Registration allows you to save floor plans and to e-mail your designs to others.

Home Depot offers a variety of do-it-yourself home design software at affordable prices. Design packages include a three-dimension floor-plan design program for the entire home for $19.95 or design programs for specific indoor or outdoor projects, including bathrooms, garage doors and decks. Most of the programs cost $15 to $30.

That's my latest column from the Miami Herald.



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Anonymous said...

Don't forget the CO detectors. Many units now detect both smoke and CO. I've found good prices at the home improvement stores when they are on sale. Look in the weekly sales circular. Also check for coupon codes for their websites.

Why waste money on spice jars? Go to your local spice shop and buy what you need. Instead of spending a few dollars on a jar, I got exactly the amount a recipe needed for 30 cents! No waste there! Pound for pound, the prices are always lower than the local supermarket.

Disposable razors: buy in bulk on ebay. Save as much as 75%. Always and only bidswipe! (Tip: always check the seller's shipping charges which can add greatly to the final cost) Only use a top brand. Cheaply made blades should be avoided. Split a large bulk order with friends and family.

Vacuuming a mattress also helps keep the bed critters away. BTW, I've bought brand new complete sets of Italian made sheets, Celeste by Sferra Bros., for under a hundred dollars, also on ebay. The sets cost over $500 in the fancy home furnishing boutique stores. TIP: White sheets fare best. No fading, and easily bleach out stains.

Anonymous said...

You should also check out , it's my favorite online roomplanner at this moment