157bTechnology is affecting everything and everyone everywhere, and the shelter industry is no exception. With websites, apps, software, e-commerce, and crowdsourcing, help is as close as a handheld phone for designing a new home, remodel, or just an update with some fresh paint and new furniture. Homeowners and industry professionals are all benefiting from the connections, lifelike imagery, and easier communications that result from technology.

An article that tries to capture developments in technology is like a photo of traffic at night: the speed of change blurs any chance at detail. Given the circumstances, this is just a glimpse and by no means a complete survey of the
apps, software, and websites available to help with a new home design, a remodel, an update, or even landscape, but it gives an idea of the depth of design assistance available.

158Inspiration is generally the first step when considering design. Questions start popping up like: Should I do it or not? What do I really like? What’s my style, and will I be comfortable with it for several years? Two really popular ways to start zeroing-in on an inspiration are Houzz online for interior design ideas and Pinterest for flagging and saving images with appeal. Remodelista is another sourcebook of ideas. Once colors and a theme are selected, Moodboard pulls in images for an inspiration board. Apps can make it possible to photograph something appealing while out and about, and matching it. Color Capture by Benjamin Moore matches the color in the photo to paint samples, and Décor matches the furniture in the photo to similar pieces.

When the decision is set to move ahead, it is time to get down and dirty with the detailed data. SunSeeker shows where the sun will be at various times of day and times of year for planning windows and the movement of light. A recommended tool from many sources is the iHandy Carpenter app; it provides levels, ruler, protractor, and a plumb bob. When it’s time to record measurements, Photomeasures allow for drawing measurements directly on a photo with a place to add notes. For a ballpark cost estimate for the go/no-go decision, Handyman DIY recalculates room dimensions to square footage and applies material costs.

159Planning and visualizing comes naturally for some, but the majority attempting design benefit from some help. Software and apps bridge how something looks in one’s head and how things look in reality. Photos or dimensional plans become 3D environments with computer-generated design with 3D overlays using homedesignersoftware.com, chiefarchitect.com, Virtual Plan 3D, Homestyler Interior Design; Home Design 3D Gold (it also offers a virtual tour to see how it flows), and Home 3, which in addition to arranging furniture, windows, and walls in 3D, also can be shared by email or DropBox to get some feedback.

Wouldn’t it be great to try out colors without painting and repainting? Color Smart by Behr Paint allows virtual paint trials. In addition to trying paint virtually, Color Capture by Benjamin Moore stores color samples on the smart phone. Other lines offer similar apps and software, and they are usually free.

Shopping is synonymous with a new home or remodel, but it can be done mileage-free with the assistance of technology. E-Commerce now offers design assistance and many search filters to narrow down the choices. Ikea online and Homestyler Interior Design were some of the first e-commerce websites to allow uploading images of furniture from the catalog and dropping the dimensional images into a 3D environment, and many other e-commerce sites are adding these features. To really see the impact of different surface coverings, or “skins” like upholstery, drapes, or floor coverings, Mark on Call shows what variations to the finishes can look like. For specialty shopping, Red Clay helps find unusual pieces, and Chairish assists both buying and selling pre-owned furniture.

With a completed vision, Zillow Digs provides cost estimates for bathroom and kitchen remodels, and Sweeten links homeowners with contractors, interior designers, and architects. Once the work is
underway, Room Reveal uploads pictures and shares progress through social media.

For those embracing technology, there is plenty of assistance available to create the perfect home environment.

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