Roomstyler 3D Home Planner taps into an interesting idea: instead of paying for interior design software, let brands support it as a free app they can use to promote their products. That's the thinking behind Roomstyler, which is offered as a free browser-based tool on the Roomstyler Website, which is also one of our picks of the best interior design software 2020.
Roomstyler 3D Home Planner review: Design and features
Using the app couldn't be simpler. Choose the option to start a new room and you can then drag and drop one of the supplied room shapes, draw your own or import an existing one made in the Floorplanner app. Tabs at the top of the sidebar give you a range of doors, windows, architectural features and garden items that you can use to make your designs more accurate and to help you maximize the use of natural light (or minimize it, for example by ensuring you're not sticking your expensive TV in the most glare-prone bit of the room).
Once you've created the basic model of your room, it's time to click on the icon of a sofa and begin putting furniture into it. That icon brings up a sidebar with product categories: accessories, bathroom, bedroom and so on. There's even a selection of people and animals that you can use to add, er, unicorns, chickens and dinosaurs as well as various generic types such as office workers and healthcare staff. You can work in Imperial or Metric measurements and the sidebar is collapsible for when you want to focus on your floorplan rather than add anything to it.
Adding furniture to your room is simple enough. Just click on the product you want to add – a Garland California King bed, perhaps, or a Magnolia Sugarcreek Kitchen Island by Joanna Gaines and you can place it or rotate it on the 2D plan. One thing you can't do is resize the branded objects: because they're all representations of actual products, you're limited to the sizes the manufacturer has provided. That's a little bit frustrating if you're planning a room where you might need to use custom sizes, such as when you're planning a kitchen layout, but that's the downside of having an app based around actual products rather than customizable generics. It's not quite as intuitive as IKEA Home Planner, but then again, it isn't limited to IKEA furniture.
As you add items to your room, they're also added to the list of products accessible via the clipboard icon. This enables you to see at a glance what items you've used so you can create your shopping list, although the use of thumbnail images rather than product names means you have to hover your mouse over them to find out what they actually are. To see their dimensions you need to click on them in the floor plan and then select the Properties icon.
Once you've added the furniture, the next stage is to decorate your room. That works in exactly the same way as adding furniture, except this time your available categories are carpet, paint, stone, tile, wallpaper, wood and patio (for outdoor planning). There's a good-sized library of materials, so for example you can try 136 carpet colors and 162 different wooden floor styles including patterned flooring. Paint colors are provided as a series of color swatches, although while the app tells you the name of each color there's no indication of which paint company or product range it's from so it's not appropriate for finding the perfect shade for any room. For that you'll still need to break out the brushes and tester pots.
Roomstyler 3D Home Planner review: Results
Roomstyler 3D Home Planner works in 2D, but as you add items you'll see them appear in the little 3D window at the top right of the screen. You can adjust the camera in multiple ways by changing its location and rotation, its height and title or its lens type: the default is wide-angle to show as much of the room as possible. Once you've got the camera just-so, click on Take A 3D Photo to generate a high resolution image. Just be careful with the camera height: it doesn't limit you to the height of the room so if you go too far up you'll get a 3D view of nothing.
In a nice touch, you can specify the lighting conditions you want to have for your finished image: the time of day and the direction and altitude of the sun. The night option didn't work for us, though, and kept taking us to the product properties of our last selected object.
When you save your work you can choose to keep it private or make it available to the Roomstyler community. Finished designs are stored in the cloud in a section called My Rooms and there are no export features, so you can't reuse your design in another app or share it with your contractor.
Should you get Roomstyler 3D Home Planner?
Roomstyler may be free, but this isn't a case of you get what you pay for: the app works very well, it's very easy to use and it produces excellent results. The lack of live 3D walkthroughs means it's not quite as clever as many paid-for apps - like Virtual Architect - but the 3D photos are of good quality and do a good job of showing how your 2D plans will actually look in 3D reality.
If you don't need the fine-grained control over object sizes or the ability to export your design for others to use, Roomstyler is a really useful way of planning everything from plush cushions to paint.