Plan Your Next Home (or Rearrange the One You've Got) with this Fun, Free Tool

Nesting on 05.05.11
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Are you a planner? If you are thinking of moving, renovating, or just rearranging furniture, then you will love Homestyler, a Web-based interior design program that anyone can use for free.

As I've mentioned here before, we have moved a lot. As our family grows, the need to plan ahead becomes greater. For example, when we moved from a townhouse in Arlington, Virginia to an apartment in Manhattan, we needed to know what furniture would fit and what furniture we needed to buy at IKEA before we sold both our cars.  

When we moved to Syracuse, we no longer had space issues, but by drafting up a floor plan of the new house, we knew exactly where to tell the movers to reassemble the bunk bed and un-do the entertainment center.

I've always created floor plans with pen and paper, and have even cut out tiny scaled images of our furniture so we could move it around with our fingers, rather than our biceps. However, it can take quite a bit of crumpled paper to get it right.

So when my designer friend at JenSpends recommended Homestyler, I had to try it. And since we just bought our first house last week, I got the perfect chance. We love the place, but it's a little quirky, and we'll have to make some changes to make it right for us.

Other Web sites I've tried have been clunky, but Homestyler was not. You can drag and drop elements like walls and doors, as well as furniture such as couches and tables. Windows snap into place as soon as you get them near the wall. And if you take detailed measurements and lots of pictures ahead of time, you can arrive at a pretty accurate architectural drawing. It's very satisfying.

My mom, who lives in Ohio and has not seen the house, was dying to know the layout. In a couple hours, I was able to get her a floorplan of the whole house. Because all of the design elements can be customized by size, style and color, including flooring and countertops, this would be a great program if you want to plan out a remodeling project.

Which is where I think we're headed. Since I'll have to be even more of a frugal mama living in Washington, D.C., I'll let you know how we cut renovation costs!

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