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, best office chairs, and the best office chairs for back pain.
The best home design software
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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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.