I am always on the lookout for ways to simplify and streamline the design and remodeling process. The technology and information age has come to the rescue with a plethora of apps, websites, books and gadgets that make the task an easier one. This is an edited list of my favorites, many of which make great gifts for anyone who is into home design and remodeling on a small or large scale.
Websites: Setting up accounts on Pinterest and Houzz for the home design enthusiast in your family is definitely a gift that keeps on giving. Pinterest is a user-friendly, virtual corkboard site where you can collect images and ideas that you find on the Web. Houzz is a site with an inspiring collection of interior design ideas that can be organized into Ideabooks to suit your personal taste and project needs. Both sites have quickly become indispensable to homeowners and home improvement professionals.
Gadgets: My starter kit of remodeling gadgets includes a digital camera, iPad or tablet, a standard tape measure and a level. These are items that most of us already own. I recommend supplementing the starter kit with a laser “tape measure” that allows one person to take accurate room dimensions with a handheld laser device and a construction calculator that manages all of the dimension conversions into feet, inches, yards and meters with the touch of a button. My favorites are the DeWALT Laser Distance Measurer (DW030P) and the Calculated Industries Construction Master Pro Calculator (4065).
Apps: Photo Measures for iPhone and iPad ($5.99) and D-Photo Measures for Android are similar apps that let you take a photograph of a room on your phone or tablet and mark it up with measurements for future reference. Video Painter for iOS is one of the best virtual wall paint apps available. It lets you take a picture or video of a room and virtually paint it a new color. The colors in the preview image look accurate and the selections include real paints from Behr, Benjamin Moore, and other well-known brands.
Books: The market has been flooded recently with interior design books that vary in quality and usefulness. Many of them are overpriced tomes that are more focused on promoting a designer than offering helpful advice. The books that have become my go-to sources for inspiration are Decorating Master Class by Elissa Cullman and Tracey Pullman, Jeffrey Bilhuber’s Design Basics and Daryl Carter’s The New Traditional.
Software: Most people hire a designer, architect or contractor to draw the plans for their project, but it can be a real money-saver to do some preliminary drawings on your own before hiring a professional. The Urban Barn Room Planner is a web-based program that allows you to create a furniture plan for every room in your home. Autodesk Homestyler is a fast and easy way to create 2D and 3D drawings of a single room or your entire house.
Hopefully you will find these remodeling tips and tools extremely helpful and also fun to use.
Jim Tibbs is the creative director of HDR Remodeling. If you would like to learn more, please read his blog at http://hdrremodeling.wordpress.com or follow him on Twitter @HDRremodeling1.