9:51 PMkitchen planners
#Free and Paid Kitchen Design Software
By Lee Wallender. Home Renovations Expert
As the ultimate know-nothing beginner, Lee Wallender's first experience with home renovation was remodeling a 100 year-old house.
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Unfortunately, it has come to the point where I cannot answer readers' individual questions about home remodeling. The backlog has become so great that I feel I cannot adequately serve readers. If you have emergency questions, write to the address below and I will try to answer.
Is there any kitchen design-specific software available for homeowners? Not really. In the free-or-inexpensive category, your choices fall into two areas: 1.) Generalized home design software packages with a good kitchen design component; or 2.) CAD (computer assisted drawing) programs that require you to produce your kitchen designs from scratch (though scratch is not exactly right, and I will cover this later).
So, unless you re a homeowner willing to pay over $1,000 or more for professional-quality kitchen design software, your choices are:
1. HomeStyler by AutoDesk
AutoDesk s free home design software is thankfully online-based: it works in your browser, so no cumbersome software to download.
It s a clean, easy-to-use tool that allows you to start designing instantly, without setting up any kind of account (though you will need an account to save your plans).
This planner wins in the area of cabinet placement. Unlike other planners that allow ghost cabinets to overlap or merge, with IKEA s program cabinets either fit or they don t fit, which is the way real cabinets work.
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Naturally, the planner create running shopping lists.
But it s a temperamental program. I highly recommend setting up an account before creating your plans. In one instance, I created elaborate plans, then followed the prompt to begin an account. This action obliterated my plans and wasted about 2 hours of my time.
In the area of free software tools, we mainly find software that, yes, is free but misses the mark a bit. You get what you pay for is true in this case, because kitchen design is a very specialized type of design which the free tools do not adequately cover. Kitchens have parameters you need to stay within (for example, you need to maintain a certain spacing between cabinetry units), which the free tools do not really address.
Truly free and moderately easy to learn, Google SketchUp is a basic design tool (i.e. not just for kitchens), and Google s more powerful version called SketchUp Pro currently costs $495.
Important Tip For Surviving SketchUp: Use Previously Built Kitchen Designs. Why create your kitchen designs from scratch? Go to Google s 3D Warehouse, where fellow users have uploaded kitchen designs that you can manipulate once you install SketchUp on your computer.
Predictably, you re better off spending a few bucks on paid kitchen design software. The tools work smoother, and they are more in tune with kitchen design needs.
1. Encore 3D Home Architect Design Suite By Encore Software
Not limited to kitchens, 3D Home Architect lets you choose kitchen counters. floors, lighting, appliances, and more. Users report that this offering from Encore is mediocre, at best. Drawings rendered by 3D Home Architect are more for your own usage, rather than for handing off to an architect or contractor.
2. Custom Cabinet Software
This Tracy CA-based company produces high-end software for cabinet design, pricing, and manufacturing. designed specifically for the custom cabinet maker. Even though this software concentrates only on cabinetry, keep in mind that cabinets comprise a good 75% of the kitchen itself.
See link below.
3. punch! Software Home Design Studio Propunch! design software is a lot more complex and ambitious, and with prices that match this ambition. Still, if you want kitchen design software with more oomph! than an Encore 3D, this is the way to go. One criticism of punch! Home Design Studio is the lack of ability to import your own textures.
Discontinued: AutoCAD® Freestyle by Autodesk
Premium software manufacturer Autodesk promoted this CAD-for-homeowners software only a few years ago. Freestyle was meant to be a rarity: an easy, homeowner-accessible design program to help produce accurate renderings to hand off to an architect or contractor--without them laughing at you (by contrast, see 3D Home Architect). At only $79-$149, Freestyle was priced just right for most homeowners designing their own kitchens.
Then guess what? Autodesk abandoned Freestyle. On January 31, 2011, Lisa Crounse at Autodesk announced that her company would be dropping Freestyle and all support for it. Sorry! Their suggested alternative is HomeStyler, a free online program with many limitations.
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