Online tools that help you redesign your home

Getting your home to look the way you want isn't always easy. But with the help of these online tools, you can try out different ideas before you buy the materials.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
4 min read

With the housing market in such rough shape, sellers are pressed to make their home as functional and inviting as possible.

For everything from quick fixes and complete remodels, do-it-yourselfers are increasingly looking online for design guidance. These tools will help you create the designs you've always wanted (or at least the ones that will help you move to your next home).

Home design tools

Armstrong makes it easy to pick your flooring. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

Armstrong Design Tools Armstrong's Design Tools lets you pick any room in an imaginary home, and mix and match potential wall colors, flooring, trim, and countertops. Once you change everything in the room to fit your desire, you can save the room's design and share it with friends.

Color-a-Room Better Homes and Gardens' Color-a-Room tool lets you change the paint schemes of any room in the house. Once you pick the room, you can choose the color you like for your walls. From there, you can find window treatments and save the room for future viewing. If you want to work on the outside of your home, you can pick the paint colors for your roof, siding, shutters, or window trim. As with the Armstrong tool, you won't be looking at a representation of your home, per se, but it will give you a better idea of what might work in your space.

Deck Designer If you're planning on adding a deck to your house, Deck Designer is a great place to start. The tool lets you choose the size, shape, and color of your deck. You can decide where to put it, add stairs and railings, and save as many designs as you want. When complete, you can print out a full listing of the materials you need, as well as tips on how to install it.

Design Basics
Design Basics gives you the blueprints of homes. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

Design Basics Design Basics is a fine resource to consult when you start building a new home or add on to an existing structure. You can search for floor plans based on the number of bedrooms you're looking for, how many levels you want, and much more. Once you find the house you like, you can buy both the blueprint and the 3D design. But beware that the charges are quite high--some blueprints cost as much as $1,000, while 3D design fees can be even higher.

Google SketchUp Pro 7 Google SketchUp Pro 7 is designed for those who want to create 3D models. It's also a handy tool when you want to design an addition to your home. The app asks you to input the area of your structure to ensure that all measurements are precise. It also applies colors and textures (of your choosing) to help you create a 3D representation of what you want to build. It's a well-designed tool, but it costs $495. There is a free version available, but it's not as capable as the paid version.

HGTV.com Whether you want to redesign a bathroom, remodel your kitchen, or add a new room to your home, HGTV.com will give you all the resources you need to do it. The site is filled with how-to videos and tools that show you different color themes for rooms throughout your house. One of its best features is its message board, which is filled with active discussions on topics ranging from buying real estate to remodeling.

Paint Designer The Paint Designer tool helps you determine what color paint you want in rooms throughout the house. Once you pick the place you want to paint, the tool's palette feature lets you flip through different shades of your desired color. When you find what you like, you can estimate the cost of your project with the built-in calculator.

PointclickHome PointClickHome, associated with the magazines Elle Decor and Metropolitan Home, boasts some outstanding resources for redecorating or remodeling your home. The site's remodeling guide gives you loads of information on topics ranging from flooring to cabinets for any room in the house. PointClickHome's "Room Finder" tool lets you sift through photos of classic, modern, and contemporary styles for any room.

See My Design
Create your own room with See My Design. Don Reisinger/CNET

SeeMyDesign SeeMyDesign lets you create a room from scratch. You can arrange furniture, decide where to put doors, and even erect walls. If you want to paint a pre-existing room, you can input its dimensions and estimate the total cost of your project with the app's built-in calculator. It's a simple tool, but it's worth trying out.

The top 3

Want the best tools to help you redesign your home? Here you go:

1. Armstrong Design Tools

2. Paint Designer

3. HGTV.com