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3D Home Planning Software? 73

Posted by Cliff
from the virtual-furniture-moving dept.
thorar asks: "I'm willing to move to another flat in town (or to restructure the one I'm currently living in). I'd like to create a detailed map of the apartment to study alternatives without much pencil and paper, possibly with appropriate furniture and 3D rendering. I'm not an expert in Studio Max nor similar softwares. I'd like something as simple as IKEA Kitchen Planner, but all Google serches lead to some software suite that looks unprofessional or Windows95-stylish. What would you use?" There are numerous commercial alternatives for such an application, but is there anything like this available via Open Source?
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3D Home Planning Software?

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  • Or for the mac... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Teancom (13486) <{moc.gnitlusnocung} {ta} {divad}> on Monday March 07, 2005 @07:45PM (#11871594) Homepage
    I went searching for something like this just last week, and didn't really find anything. I ended up going with a tract home where I'm picking from one of 10 different floor plans, but if I had gone custom, it would have been illustrator or nothing...
  • Radiant [qeradiant.com].

    Widely supported, runs in Windows and Linux, has a huge community behind it, and I'm sure a little digging will turn up plenty of furniture for your lev^B^B^Bhome.
  • Only on slashdot would someone be requesting software to perform a task that any woman would do for free or actually pay you to do. Next on Ask Slashdot: "Can someone recommend an open-source software tool that assists me in selecting shoes?"

    GMD

    • Flamebait? Heh... I thought it was kinda funny... and not entirely inaccurate :p
    • Only on slashdot would someone be requesting software to perform a task that any woman would do for free or actually pay you to do.
      Too true. It's hard work keeping my missus from constantly fiddling with plans and even real furniture. It's worse than new clothes for some of them.

      Which morons modded the parent down? Repent! Or get married, and learn what women are really all about. (-:
    • "Can someone recommend an open-source software tool that assists me in selecting shoes?"

      Try:

      perl -e 'print "Go with the cheap ones.\n"'
      • As someone who suffers from flat feet, let me just say that the one place you shouldn't scrimp is on your feet. Think about how much weight is on your feet all day long.

        Scrimp on shirts and pants, but buy good solid comfortable shoes for your feet.
  • Moray (Score:4, Informative)

    by mugnyte (203225) on Monday March 07, 2005 @08:00PM (#11871723) Journal
    I went for cheap and just downloaded Moray. I plugged in accurate measurements, added a few simple textures, and could imagine the space easily. Traced out in POVRay, the pictures are pretty and cost zippo.

    You'll have to find good models for your smaller items, if you want to use models. I didn't use them. There are plenty of models for Pov-Ray, but not a lot for dedicated to Moray. I haven't looked into that side of it much. However, building your basic nighttable/bed/lamp is easy in CSG, just for verifying that your space will fill as you imagine.

    Space planning and room "look" was very nice with this, and very quick, since Moray has some crude group tools. Sadly, it doesn't seem to do low-level renderings (non-reflective,etc) and the CSG Evals are still only wireframe (and messy on big pics). Your quickest bet for POV speed is smaller pictures, which are useless.

    Export the scene text, plug the camera math into a "clock" POVRay variable and you can spit out a directory of frames, with pretty good quality, overnight on most machines/scenes. There's a cl MPG builder to link them up, allowing for frame pauses and other simple tricks. This gives nice walkthroughs.

    It is more labor intensive than the pro tools available, but it costs nothing. You learn a simple modeller, and with POV-Ray you can raytrace shiny things to your heart's content.

    • Re:Moray (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Screw all that crappy, hard to use stuff.

      Wings 3D [wings3d.com] and Yafray [yafray.org] are what you want.
  • You shouldn't really need to be an expert with 3D software to approximate a new layout. Basically most furniture that people have can be approximated by various sized rectangles anyway.
    The biggest challenge is going to be that your going to need some pretty close approximations of the sizes of all of the stuff in your house, within the nearest half a foot or so. Depending on how you plan to lay stuff out, you might find that you need something even more accurate. With this in mind, your biggest problem
  • by Nighttime (231023) on Monday March 07, 2005 @08:00PM (#11871726) Homepage Journal
    I know that a lot of people don't bother to play with their Sims but rather prefer to use the game as a house design tool.

    Granted that the grid-based system that The Sims employs for house design means you cannot get an exact scale model of a property. However, you do get a variety of different furniture items with the game and it is possible to design and import your own wallpapers and floor coverings.
    • I was going to mention this myself, the wife being an avid Sims player. As mentioned, the grid system makes it difficult to get anything better than an approximation of size and space, but I found that using the furniture pieces as a base to work everything else around worked pretty well.

      Regardless, we had fun messing around with the layouts for what is now our new house, and it was a lot easier than trying to do it all in my head.

      Haven't really had a chance to mess around with Sims 2 yet,but it looks

    • Yea - I just actually did this to help my wife and myself visualize an addition we're working on. The big thing to remember is that their furniture is NOT to scale, so don't use it as the only guide for how big your space needs to be.
  • In about 1998, the "Computer Life" (no longer published, but it was the best PC magazine ever, with everything from the latest screensavers to modding an exercise bike to play doom) magazine ran an article about doing this with the Duke 3D level editor. I don't have the magazine/cd still, or I'd scan in the article and upload the level files, but you mioght find something if you google long enough.
  • Jordans (Score:5, Informative)

    by AlexisKai (114768) * on Monday March 07, 2005 @08:01PM (#11871738) Homepage
    Jordan's Furniture has an online room layout program [jordans.com]. In theory it's designed so you lay out a room and then get advice about it from Jordan's, but that didn't prevent me from creating a 2D representation of my entire apartment, sizing furniture to match my own, and dragging things around for hours. Even though it's Web-based, you can save multiple layouts and come back to them months later.
  • These are actually quite good for mapping buildings. Quark [planetquake.com] is quite good. But yeah, I would recommend against using 3ds max. I just spent a day modelling a japanese house for the LessShift [freeartfoundation.org] project. Such a pain in the arse. Even people who are good at 3ds max probably find it a dog to work with.
  • by Wwolmack (731212) on Monday March 07, 2005 @08:25PM (#11872010)
    "I'd like something as simple as IKEA Kitchen Planner, but all Google serches lead to some software suite that looks unprofessional or Windows95-stylish."

    You're doing something on a non-professional level, and expect professional level results on the cheap? I don't think its going to happen.

    You could use some fancy 3d modeling program, but it sounds like all you really need is pencil and paper:
    1. Draw out a floorplan. Its not that hard, just use graph paper. You were going to measure it out anyways (RIGHT?).
    2. Make photocopies of the floorplan. These are to come up with layout ideas on.
    3. Sketch or take photographs of the area, maybe move some furniture around so you mostly see the walls.
    4. Photocopy the sketchs/photos, and draw over them so you can get an idea what it would look like furnished.

    Pencil and paper are great tools, you shouldn't be so quick to discount them just because some program exists. They've been around for a long time, so there must be some advantages to using them.

    The majority of people who probably use home design software are probably not OSS geeks. I'm willing to bet a lot of them are (gasp!) interior designers, landscapers, and architects. Hell, they just might still use Windows 95.

    In any case, here are two possible candidates.
    http://www.imsisoft.com/prodinfo.asp?t=1&mcid=244& cid= [imsisoft.com]

    https://secure.chiefarchitect.com/xcarthd/customer /home.php [chiefarchitect.com]

    • I second this.

      Using a computer here is a real crutch. At least in the way you want. Pen & paper will save you gobs of time.

      For lamps, TVs, computers, phones, etc, make sure you have the measurements for the power and network lines. Nothing worse than having a perfect layout only to discover that your phone is all the way across the room because that's the only jack.

      If you want to be real geeky, use HalfLife2 and create a level of your apartment. Furniture won't be that hard and you walk around an
    • Another worthwhile thing to try:

      1) Draw a floorplan. Make sure your dimensions are accurate.
      2) On a seperate page, draw your furniture.
      3) Cut the furniture out. Then you can try a lot of different layouts with minimum waste. When you've got what you want, tape the cutouts to the floorplan.

      I've found it to be better than almost any other option.
    • After you have your copy on the gridded paper, you can make little cardboard cutouts of your furniture, to scale, and then slide those around to see how they work on the plan.

      Like the parent says: Sometimes a low-tech solution just works better. Of course, the geek quotient is pretty low, unless you use your computer guided cutting tool to make the cardboard furniture profiles.

    • You're doing something on a non-professional level, and expect professional level results on the cheap? I don't think its going to happen.

      Nah, [kernel.org] that [mozilla.org] could [openoffice.org] never [mysql.com] happen. [winscp.com]
  • 3D Home Architect (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Not sure if it's still made and it's not free, but I've used 3D Home Architect in the past. It does exactly what you want. DON'T use level editors.
    • 3D Home Architect is indeed a fun program and does exactly what the poster wants, except there are the words "Open" and "Source" with the question.

      Such as strong statement against level editors. What's wrong with them?
      • Um, no there isn't. The original poster made no restrictions on whether or not the product is open source. The little open source comment is outside the italics so it was made by the editor. IE this is /., so the words open source have to be thrown around everywhere, even when they don't matter.
  • Please, do not laugh, but I do remember that there was an archtecture department in one of the colleges which relied on Doom engine to visualize walk-through the building. Perhaps now in the 21st century Quake is more appropriate (will give you true 3D view, not 2.5D like Doom did).

    Paul B.
  • Ok, so my mom wanted something like that just a few years back. Turns out that Sierra has a product suite for $30 called Home Architect. You can recreate your entire house easily. I'm a blender adept, but for something look for that thing. It's got fairly comprehensive tutorials, many templates and you can take digital pictures of your furniture and have your existing home in place to later modify and experiment with. Hope this helps. It works on windows XP. I might try it on wine, but since I still have an
  • by NaturePhotog (317732) on Monday March 07, 2005 @10:16PM (#11872833) Homepage
    I recently designed an addition to our house. (It's currently in to the city for design review and building permits). I tried a number of software options, including Punch! Pro [punchsoftware.com] and Better Homes and Gardens Home Designer [homedesignersoftware.com]. The latter is produced by Chief Architect [chiefarchitect.com] that makes the professional level Chief Architect series -- heavy-duty stuff, even more than I needed to make permit-ready quality drawings.

    Punch! Pro and BH&G Home Designer are each $100 or less, and even those are probably overkill for what you need for redesigning an apartment, but either would get the job done. I settled on BH&G Home Designer (the Pro version, about $500, because it had features I needed for the design approval and permit process). Both have some annoying aspects, but are pretty easy to use to lay out a house or other building. Punch! Pro is probably the easier to use of the two, but BH&G Designer is more powerful, and produces nicer-looking overall results and particularly nicer-looking 3D renderings. The 3D renderings part was important for me not for the design and permit process, but because my wife has a harder time visualizing things in 3D, and the renderings I could create with BH&G Home Designer let me easily show her what different design changes would mean.

    One definite advantage that Punch! Pro has is that it lets you design your own 3D objects, which is nice for rendering a particular fixture or piece of furniture that's not included in the library. Making your own objects is definitely harder than just drawing a house, though. And that's where a fair number of the quirks in Punch! Pro reside -- the 3D custom workshop where you create your own objects.

    All that said, I'd be interested in hearing about any open source alternatives as the follow-on question by Cliff asks. I've learned enough in the process of designing my own addition (and rendering the current house) that I'd be interested in contributing to an open source program of this nature, too.

  • You might want to try Party planner [hufsoft.com] From the site: You can use PartyCAD to design parties, weddings, banquets, conferences, meetings, trade shows and mall shows. You can also design stores, residential interiors, offices and libraries. In fact, you will find that the package is flexible enough to design nearly any space.

    I've used an earlier version of this to do office and house layouts. There is a 30 day demo version available.

  • Trash Paper (Score:4, Interesting)

    by digitect (217483) <digitect AT dancingpaper DOT com> on Monday March 07, 2005 @10:55PM (#11873096) Homepage

    I'm an architect and my best tool is trace paper and a pencil.

    We have a full blown suites of AutoDesk software, but in early design phases you want to explore ideas so quickly that no software is going to react as quickly as sketches suggesting what your brain is thinking. That's the trick. Depicting reality before you've considered the possibilities locks you in, it restricts what your mind can consider. Once you're confident of having tested all kinds of crazy approaches, then you can start trying to depict it. Using light scribbles still keeps it fuzzy and flexible enough until you've worked out the next level of design.

    What then? If you want to waste a lot of time learning software, by all means use CAD. That can help you build a scale and measurable model that can be dimensioned and taken off for construction quantities. I've been using CAD for 16 years now and it is certainly my tool of choice for drafting. (As opposed to the old ink on bond/vellum/mylar.)

    After that, you might want to use some sort of visualization software. I've used Max and Vis, but have been learning to use Blender lately and find it can do just as well. (Plus it's Free! And multi-platform.)

    But you are going to spend weeks and months coming up to speed on software when you could much more easily draw some scaled drawings that will do just as well. Remember, it's only been the last twenty years that *any* building has been digitally rendered... there is quite a bit of architecture accomplished without it.

    I learned in school that you can't draft what your mind hasn't yet conceived. Drawing is a tool to help you see, to explore something that doesn't exist yet and to consider it's properties on your own terms. Of course it might be fun to make a huge solid block in Blender and slowly carve it away into a room. But it's certainly not the easiest!

    Hope that helps.

    • Okay, so I'm no architect, but I've used autocad a bit and it seems to me that while doing an initial sketch is faster on paper, there are two things you're forgetting. First, drawing an attractive sketch is hard, especially if it's not all straight lines. Sketching as it is used in drafting is a learned skill, even discounting stuff like labeling rules which are not important in this application since no one else has to read it.

      On the other hand, you certainly CAN sketch in autocad, and for me it's faste

      • First, drawing an attractive sketch is hard,

        Forget "attractive". Sketches are only hard if you're doing them wrong. The whole point of sketching is that you do it quickly, with really simple shapes. You seem to be reading the word "sketch" and substituting "artist's rendering", which is not what he was talking about.

        • If you had taken a drafting class, you would have learned that there are rules for "proper" sketching. I was operating under the assumption that he was discussing the draftsman's concept of sketches. Perhaps faulty, but he did talk about drafting. And, I am not talking about an artist's rendering, which these days is often just prepared from a 3d model anyway.
  • . . . a reason not to use software?

    Surely the decision to make one-time use of free software for performing a quantitative task in a non-professional environment ought to be made based on something other than whether it comes with super-nifty 3D shadowed buttons in your favorite candy-apple color.

    I say, give those windows95ish program a try, and don't ask for alternatives until you've found them lacking in function rather than style.

    Besides, just think of all the fun you can have with those extra cpu cyc
  • For an open source home designer, I think it would be a grand idea if somebody were to base one on one of the quake engines that have been open-sourced. It seems that the ideal engine to use would be the Q3 engine once id software GPLs the source (which ought to happen some time this year). Since there's already an open-source GUI designing tool, it sounds perfect.

    I'd do it, but I'm not a coder. :(

  • http://www.cycas.de/

    The free limited Linux version is all I have ever needed up till now. I am about to design a hous for my family so we will see how it goes.
    • I've been using Cycas some on my Suse box. It's not the most intuitive interface, and the documentation translation to English isn't as good as it could be, but with very little 3D CAD experience (virtually none), I got a simple drawing of our master bedroom, bathroom, and an addition we were going to put on the house. I couldn't get stairs figured out, though there's a staircase generator (the documentation is poor here), and a few other things were a pain. Still, for general visualization it did well e
  • A few years back I tried all the different specialized applications and even experimented with CAD software.

    In the end I used models build using Lego. Accurate upto 5cm in my models, which was good enough.

    My parents are now using cut-out paper models to plan the furniture rearrangements of their new home. Use sticky notes for the furniture if you want to keep your designs ;)

    Unless you want perfect lighting/coloring preview and are willing to put in the huge effort, I'd just go with models you can drag ar
  • I once had to re-arrange furniture in a *very* small studio apartment that was shaped more like a long rectangle. I had the space divided with a closet so that one part was TV/soho, and the other was bed area.

    I used MS VISIO.

    When planning for it what I've done is to setup a detailed (to the mm) floor plant and mark all electricity points, doors, windows, etc.

    Next, I would draw a top view of all the furniture pieces, again, detailed to the milimiter.

    Then, it was just a matter of dragging/rotating them ar
  • I have not actually used this, but I saw it recommended somewhere http://www.roomarranger.com/ It is shareware now, but the older version is freeware.
  • For a super-cheap, excellent modeller, try SketchUp [sketchup.com]. Cheap to buy, and a 14 day free demo.

    We use this tool to concept for our MMORPG (it exports) that is in development, it is incredibly powerful, superfast and so simple, my mother could use it.

    In the SketchUp in Action [sketchup.com] section, they have a couple of vids that you might want to check out.

    If you are looking for more interior design options, make sure you pull the "components" stuff from thier download section.

    Good Luck
  • I had the same problem. I'm moving into a house next month and I would like to "see" how our current furniture fits the house. Over at Amazon, it looks like the two most popular products are Broderbund's 3D Home Architect [amazon.com] and the Better Home & Gardens Designer [amazon.com].

    There is a downloadable demo of 3D Home Architect available online (I'd link to it, but it seems to be slow right now. Just Google for it). I wasn't very impressed with it though.

    I don't know if there is a demo of the B&G product, but their w

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