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The best home design software in 2021

The best home design software [Image: Shutterstock]
[Image: Shutterstock] (Image credit: Shutterstock)

The best home design software lets you create a dream layout for your home or studio, without leaving your desk.

Like a good game of The Sims, the programs we've picked out for this guide will have you spending hours selecting armchairs, flicking through shades of carpet, and lining up tables with windows. With clear and concise interfaces, they let you get on with the business of putting together your vision for a room, without the pesky intermediary step of having to spend several years studying to become an interior designer. 

Home design software often comes with libraries of real furniture (some are even inked up to retail catalogues from well-known sellers), and whether you want to dream up a new home from scratch or just give a pre-existing space a bit of a spruce, there will be software on this list that can help you do it. 

Once you've finished your creation, you can generally export it as a high-resolution render, allowing you to share with professional architects and builders who can help turn it into a reality. The pieces software we've listed here come at various prices, but many have free tiers that give you access to basic features if you just want to mess around with a designer for some inspo. At the end of the list, we've also picked out our favourite free home design software, in case your budget is zero. 

We've picked out what we reckon are the best examples of home design software right now. Each has different features, and some are only available for certain operating systems, so have a look through before committing. And if you're looking to furnish an office or studio, don't miss our guides to the best desks and best office chairs.

The best home design software

The best home design software: Virtual Architect Ultimate Home Design

01. Virtual Architect Ultimate Home Design

The best overall home design software

Features: Digital interior design, surface design, kitchen build wizard
Operating system: Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista
Reasons to buy
+Easy to use+Sample plans help you get started
Reasons to avoid
-Not the largest selection of sample plans-Phone support is costly

With an easy-to-use interface and helpful sample plans, Virtual Architect Ultimate Home Design is our pick for the best home design software you can get right now. It's made for people who might not have too much experience with this sort of thing, and includes loads of helpful wizards that hold your hand through the process of designing a room.

There's a large object library that you can use to add different components to your design. Handily, the software will calculate the materials you need for your design, and even give you an estimate of what it's going to cost, so your imagination won't take you wildly far away from your budget.

The best home design software: TurboFloor Plan Home & Landscape Deluxe

02. TurboFloor Plan Home & Landscape Deluxe

The best value home design software

Features: QuickStart feature, Floor Plan Trace, Training Center with 100+ videos
Operating system: Windows 10, 8, 7
Reasons to buy
+Excellent value+Loads of video tutorials
Reasons to avoid
-Lacks step-by-step guides-Cannot design fences and water features

TurboFloor Plan Home & Landscape Deluxe is our pick for the best value home design software due to the fact that it is almost half the price of the other entries in this best home design software list, yet it still comes with almost all of the features its more expensive competitors offer. So, you've got 45 sample plans to get you started, as well as the QuickStart feature which lets you jump right in and begin designing your buildings. It has a huge library of video tutorials that can help you if you get stuck, but there's no step-by-step wizards to help you create rooms – unlike Virtual Architect Ultimate Home Design above. However, it still offers fantastic value for money, and is perfect for people on a budget.

The best home design software: Home Designer Suite

03. Home Designer Suite by Chief Architect

The best home design software for Macs

Features: Automated building tools, smart objects, 3D models and rendering
Operating system: Windows 10, 8, 7, macOS High Sierra, Mojave
Reasons to buy
+Mac compatible+Can scan in physical plans
Reasons to avoid
-Not the easiest to use-No water features

Macs are very popular with digital creatives, however, they don't have the same breadth of choice when it comes to home design software. If you use a Mac, it means you're limited to only a few software suites – and Home Designer Suite by Chief Architect is by far the best. It comes with a huge selection of features for designing the inside and outside of your building and it's compatible with SketchUp and Trimble 3D Warehouse, which host ready-made 3D models which you can include in your designs. It's also easy to export your designs into formats used by architects and builders. Oh, and it's also available for Windows PCs as well.

The best home design software: DreamPlan

04. DreamPlan

The best home design software for small projects and studios

Features: A3D, 2D and blueprint views, landscape and garden design, interior and room design
Operating system: Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, XP, Mac OS X 10.5 and above
Reasons to buy
+Easy to use+Good selection of tools
Reasons to avoid
-Limited amount of objects

If you're just designing a small project, then you don't want to spend a fortune on a complex suite of design applications that include features you'll never use – which is why DreamPlan is an excellent choice. It gives you all the tools you need to quickly whip up designs for small projects, without overwhelming you. Of course, if you're going for a large project - like a total renovation of your home - then this isn't the tool for you, due to a lack of cost calculator, only one sample plan and a small object library. For small projects, that should be more than enough.

Best home design software: Homestyler

(Image credit: Homestyler)

05. Homestyler

This browser-based designer aims to make things easy

Features: 2D/3D floor plans, real furniture library, panoramic HD visualiser
Operating system: Web browsers, iOS, Android
Reasons to buy
+Community inspiration+Free app+Branded furniture
Reasons to avoid
-Still a little buggy

A relative newcomer to the world of home design software, HomeStyler can be used in a web browser, or downloaded as a free iOS or Android app. Whichever way you do it, the interface is nice and straightforward, with 2D and 3D floor plans available, and a generous library of real furniture that you can drop in and out at will. It's a lot like building a house in The Sims, except nobody dies if you forget the pool ladder. Once your design is done, you can share it with the community, as well as cribbing some pointers from other people's creations. The basic designer is free, while paying for subscription plans gets you access to the high-resolution rendering tools that allow you to create explorable 3D renders of your designs. It's still a little buggy in places, but is an impressive option nonetheless.

The best free home design software 

If you think the tools in our main list of the best home design software are all overkill for your needs, we'd like to highlight our pick for the best free home design software: RoomSketcher Home Designer. This is the perfect home design application for people who just want to dip their toes into the home design waters, and test out the software before spending any money.

It's basic, but it does the job, and allows you to make a quick and easy floor plan with windows, walls, stairs and doors. You can also add objects to get an idea of how the building your designing will look.

It offers basic tools, but doesn't match the paid-for home design software we list below. You're limited to designing five buildings – though you can buy five more for $10, and your designs are saved online so you can access them from other internet-connected devices. Plus, it has an app for iOS and Android mobile devices, so you can get designing while on the go.

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Matt Hanson

Matt has been a technology journalist for well over a decade, writing for publications such as T3, MacFormat and Creative Bloq. He's a senior editor of TechRadar, Creative Bloq's sister site, where he can be found writing about and reviewing laptops, computers, monitors and more. He often writes for Creative Bloq, helping creatives find their perfect laptop or PC.