A free 3-D room design is the first step in creating a beautiful space.
Moving furniture around in real life is one approach to redecorating a room. It provides instant gratification, but can get tiring if heavy pieces are involved. Moving images on a computer screen requires far less work and lets you see your ideas in 3-D. Several expensive programs perform these tasks well. But other applications can do the same thing at no cost. Does this Spark an idea?
1. Browse a 3-D online decorating website, such as Floorplanner, Autodesk Homestyler or mydeco. All avoid having to download programs that take up space on your hard drive. They all allow you to drag and drop furniture, doors and walls from a menu, and then lets you either walk inside your design with the mouse or generate photos for sharing with friends or designers. However, you are limited to the textures and furniture pieces the sites provide, and they may require registration to unlock most of the design features.
2. Sign up for a virtual online world, such as Second Life, Active Worlds and Your Alternative Life, if you want total control over your room and its contents. You must first create an avatar, and then manipulate built-in primitives such as cubes, spheres and pyramids into the room and furniture you want to see. You can use the built-in coding language to define behaviors for your creations, such as opening doors, screens with movie images or bathtubs with running water. These worlds offers a myriad of textures and furniture pieces to get you started, or you can import your own textures or creations from other 3-D programs. Once your room is finished, invite other avatars to visit and explore. But depending on the site, the free version may restrict the permanence of your build.
3. Download, install and run a free 3-D room design program, such as Sweet Home 3D, Home Design and LiveCad 3D Home Design. None of them requires online access to use. However, all require a graphics card to generate 3-D images. The programs use a drag-and-drop interface with a menu of furniture to create photo-realistic images, and you can make a movie from a 3-D walk-through of your creation. Some of the programs allow exports from or imports to other graphics applications. They may also offer additional free furniture on their respective website.