Tools For the Timid Decorator

Are you the type that can't envision something until you see it right before your eyes? This can be a problem when you're designing a room - it's hard to be inspired by those tiny paint samples. Thanks to the wonders of technology, you can hop onto the web, and using some of the many online tools available, decorate a fantasy room, right down to the furniture placement, color of the walls and accessories.

There are a lot of sites out there providing decorating assistance, but here are two I've found helpful.

1. Better Homes and Gardens:

This tried and true magazine has a variety of user-friendly tools for painting a room, the exterior of a house, choosing drapes, designing a closet, a deck or planning a garden.


Choose from a variety of rooms with different themes such as Escape from Beige land, Bungalow Living Room, Bookshelf Nook, or Updated Casual Living Room. Next, choose colors for the walls, furniture, throw pillows, and fireplace. Add corresponding stripe or check patterns to your sofa and accessories, or create a leather look. You can even add a stone or tile finish to the fireplace. Click on each room feature and then click on the color or pattern tab below to see what choices are available for each item.


This allows you to view different window treatments before you go out and spend the cash. Start by selecting a window, then choose your wall color, drapery rod, or curtains. If you select a style with sheers and tiebacks, you can color those as well with a variety of shades and patterns.


This is where you plan the design treatment for the exterior of your home. Begin by selecting the desired house style, including Elegant One-Story, Wrap-Around Porch, Dormered Cottage, Covered Entryway, Bungalow, etc. Choose from the roof, trim, siding, trim, shutters, and door, and paint to your heart's content.

Once you're done, you have the option of saving your room, printing it off, or emailing it. This is a great way to play with new design trends, and experiment with colors outside your safety zone.


Take the first step toward creating your dream closet by playing with an online design. Begin by setting your wall size and choosing your closet style. Keep in mind when selecting a walk-in with 2 or more walls, you have to choose which wall you are working on to apply your design ideas. Next, pick your rod, shelf, divider panel, door, cabinetry, wire shelving, drawers and even shoe shelves. Each of these can be re-sized accordingly. I found this part of the tool a little awkward and it was difficult to get a sense of how the furniture would fit properly.

Next, choose from the types of clothing and actually fill your closet to see if your choices make sense. The final tab "List Contents" gives you a summary of your choices.


Imagine your deck built with the click of a mouse, including furniture, accessories, stairs, trees and flowers. Start by selecting a new deck and indicate your desired yard size measurements. Go to Structures and choose from among deck shapes, posts and railings, walls, doors, stairs and windows. Drag each item onto your screen and click info to view the dimensions, or select one of the surrounding boxes to drag the desired shape. Add privacy walls, screens, benches, tables and chairs, plants and even a hot tub. This was an easy tool to use and provides a very good rendering of the final product.

2. Home Sense ( - Fall Trend Guide:

This is a slick, online flash tool, designed to use Home Sense Fall inventory to create a designer room. Begin by choosing from the Safari or Bohemian Style and suddenly, your room opens up. Curtains drop down, and bare bones furniture items are laid out to expose a room badly in need of enhancements.

View items from various categories and drag and drop into your room. As a user, you don't have to think to hard - once selected, each accessory is automatically placed in a strategic position in the room.

Upon completion, you have the option of printing the design and creating an instant shopping list. This is ultimately a catalogue that attempts to pass itself off as a design tool. It does an excellent job, however of demonstrating how to use various accessories effectively and may give you some good ideas.

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