I am always on the lookout for new design software- especially when it is free! Today I discovered the Google Chrome Web store. Google Chrome is Google’s version of internet explorer and is a great browser. They now have an App market and a variety of free apps including the Autodesk Homestyler. The homestyler is a free interior design software and claims that you can quickly and easily make a floor plan and design your space using their catalogue. I decided to play around with it for an hour to see for myself.
I did a quick plan of the main living area of my teenie Toronto apartment. This was very easy. You start with an empty grid and drag and drop elements to form your room or rooms. I started with a square and added interior walls to create my kitchen and living/dining area. You can turn on dimensions on a button on the bottom left of the page, double clicking on any wall or wall opening will allow you to move the wall, change the angle, or edit the length. With my basic walls etc completed I moved on the the fun stuff, decor.
I started with my kitchen, which can be difficult in other software. What I found is that placement is easy however customization is either very difficult or impossible.
With this cabinet all you can change is the colour- there are only four to choose from. I think my biggest frustration is that you cannot change the dimensions of any piece to the size you want it to be. Certain pieces have dimension options that you select from a list of standard sizes. It would be very difficult to accurately design a kitchen without being able to change the size of the cabinets. I am not thrilled about the colour options. There is not enough selection.
Selection is limited in Autodesk Homestyler. The furniture options that are available are nice and you can make a nice looking plan. My sample plan is below.
It was easy to make the plan even with the challenges with the dimensions etc. Some things to note. When I painted my walls in the program it painted all the walls in the plan (except for the green column which is actually a separate room I added to make the column). There may be a way to fix this but I did not play around with the program enough to try to solve the problem. I did run into a problem that made me stop using the program before my plan was fully completed.
Beside my kitchen is my office area that I share with my husband (which is why two computers are there). This looks pretty good in plan view however when you look at the area in 3D the laptops are on the floor under the desk. I did try to solve this problem and couldn’t move the laptops or even click on them in 3D to move them up to the top of the desk. You can move items like wall mounted flat screen TVs in 3D so I am not sure what the issue is with the computers.
There are plenty of good features in this free software. It is easy to use and you don’t have to watch hundreds of tutorials to make a simple plan. Once you have a plan you can send it all your friends using Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. The renderings are fantastic and are sent to your email once they are completed. It is also a lot of fun to play around with and it is free!
On the other hand the selection is poor and customization next to impossible. There are some bugs that make this software frustrating ie the cabinets and the computers living on the floor- why would the default be the floor (shrug)? I also had to turn off the placement rules a lot because I was unable to place cabinets in some cases as when I tried they would end up on the other side of my plan. The cabinet I tried to create over my fridge was a disaster and I finally chose a built in fridge although the cabinet was not the same style and there was no option to change it to match, it is also much shorter then the rest of my uppers and again I couldn’t change the height.
I give Autodesk Homestyler a 2.5. It is easy and fun to use- until you run into a problem. I really hope the creators will eventually add to the library and allow you to select your own dimensions for cabinetry and furniture as well as create a colour library that you can use for all items. It would have been great to chose a better colour for the sofa for example- or paint my cabinetry any colour I wanted. This App has amazing potential, I just don’t think it is there yet.