We all wish we could hire an Interior Designer to transform our house into the dream spaces we see in the glossy magazines. But life happens. We get too busy, it doesn’t fit into our budget, or we think we can do it ourselves and then we just get stuck.
We get it, we’ve been there!
Surprisingly enough there are several tools Interior Designers use every day that are available to anyone. As a professional Interior Designer, we have several “go to” products that we use often use, to get us inspired, visualize our design or share our vision with clients. Sometimes the hardest part of the process is knowing where to begin.
Here is a breakdown of some of our favorite sites we use to help get the design juices kicking!
1- Sherwin Williams Color Snap
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but its also worth a thousand paint swatches! We love using this website, especially when renovating existing spaces. Simply upload a picture and the website will generate the Sherwin Williams matching paint colors that correlate to the colors in the image. Genius! It’s a handy feature to have in your back pocket for when you want to match an existing paint color but can’t get a custom sample made. It’s also great if you have a certain piece of artwork or furniture and you need to find a matching color.
This website is a real time saver, especially when you need a color quickly but don’t have a fan deck handy. As with any program, the color rendering on your personal monitor can vary, its always best to cross reference the suggested color against an actual color swatch. We even have the mobile version on our phones, yes we are that obsessed! Trust us, it comes in handy!
2- Bluebeam or PDF Markup Programs
If you are dabbling in the decor and renovation world, at one point you are just going to want to mark something up. Weather its an inaccurate vendor quote, an erroneous floor plan or a simple diagram that doesn’t match your design intent, the easiest way to get your point across is to mark it up. In the design world we refer to it as “readlines.” After an eagle eyed designer reviews a vendor submittal, sometimes all that is left is a sea of red markings!
We have been using Bluebeam for many years and we are hooked! It combines the visual aspects of a graphic program with the functional aspects of a PDF creator. The professional version also comes with a cloud based studio where you can collaborate with other team members in real time. You can even calibrate your PDF imports to a scale to create accurate dimensions.
Bluebeam Revu is available on the app store for $9.99
We understand that average design enthusiast may not benefit from all of Bluebeam’s features. The markup feature on the Ipad Pro is another great tool to add your revisions and notes in a virtual format. Better yet, this feature comes standard on the new system.
We are also big fans of Annotable:Annotation & Markup. It is available for free in the app store and does offer In-App purchases.
3- Room Visualizers
When it comes to flooring the options are endless! Did you know that when selecting carpet tiles the interplay of colors and textures look completely different if you are looking down at it from a seated position with the sample on the table versus on ground? Every sample is cut from a different place. If you are looking at a large scale pattern that spans across multiple tiles, its near impossible to decide if the pattern will work with just one tile!
Many manufacturers offer 3D visualizers on their websites that provide a virtual room scene and a fully customizable product that you can virtually manipulate to suite your needs. We can’t tell you how many times we have used these features! Sometimes this information will be easily apparent on the website and sometimes you have to do a little digging. You can also look to the commercial version of some of your favorite products to see if any of these tool are available under their designer resources. A word of warning, the commercial offerings will likely be different than the residential offerings as these products are built to withstand heavy foot traffic and must adhere to fire codes for safety.
Here is a list of some of our favorites:
- Flor Carpet Tiles https://www.flor.com/design-studio/builder
- Mohawk Flooring http://readytodesign.mohawkgroup.com/Search/?type=designs
- Tandus Centiva Flooring https://virtualview.trykcloud.com/splash
4- Idea Boards
As designers we love to create idea boards. Sometimes we find a product that we love but don’t have a specific client in mind. Simply create an account, create a collection name and save away. This also works well for working projects that are still in the concept stage. Its easy to drag and drop products in and then simply delete it from the board if it no longer fits within your design theme or budget. It’s a great way to cohesively see all your products in one place. Plus it is always better to group your purchases together from one manufacturer.
Not only does it streamline the delivery process, but often times there is a discount for buying in bulk. Take advantage of flat rate shipping promotions by buying your bulky, heavier items from one place. If you haven’t taken advantage of idea boards (also called “Save for Later” or “Favorites”) give it a try. It’s a lifesaver! While most manufacturers are offering this, some of our favorites are Joss and Main, All Modern, Birch Lane, Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel, and West Elm.
Interior Designers love Pintrest! It is the perfect visual platform to suite our needs and get inspired. It also is a showcase of everyday products and styles that are relateable to our clients. We create pin boards for our own inspiration, and to help us to articulate our design intent. Many times its our starting point for a project. Like we wrote in our last post on How to Become Your Own Interior Designer, interior designers want to see your pin boards!
The more you start to pin, the clear your design style and focus will become. It will help you discover what is out there, current trends and allow you to think about a product differently. So go ahead and pin away!
Sometimes the hardest part of getting started is knowing where to look. Arming yourself with the right information will open doors and help you create your own design story. Remember we are always a click away if you get stuck! We are happy to help!
Until Next Time!