The best interior design apps may never be fully virtual

Interior design is becoming more and more a “do-it-yourself” endeavor, particularly with the advent of dedicated channels and blogs to share every inspiration imaginable. At the same time, we live in a society where there’s an app for everything.

So why not let your smartphone become your personal interior designer?

That’s becoming more and more of a possibility as our phones and tablets increase in power and as augmented reality becomes a very real part of the way companies do business.

Of course, there are levels of capability. Some interior design apps simply take the place of a tape measure and notepad, while some create a full-fledged vision populated with the colors and decor that the AI thinks would be just right for you. Since none of them can physically make any changes to your current layout (yet!), there’s no harm in experimenting  to find the one that fits your needs.

Virtual reality designing, but with a human touch

If you’re tempted to give it a try, Mental Floss featured an interesting read about the experience of working with Modsy, an interior design service that works entirely in the virtual space. It’s technically not so much an app as it is a way to receive design suggestions rendered into your customized living space. By submitting your room dimensions and answering a few questions about personal style, you get a virtual rendering of your interior populated with rugs, furniture, and other design accents.

But the telling part of the article was that for an extra fee, you can consult one-on-one with an in-house designer, and that’s exactly what the author ended up doing:

Most customers, Lameraner told me, upgrade to the live style session because they’re looking to get advice or see something different in their Modsy designs. “Home design is very daunting,” she says. “It’s kind of nice to be able to talk to somebody.” As it was, I could have taken bits and pieces of Modsy’s initial renderings and run with them—or asked for changes over email, which are included for free in your basic design package—but chatting in real-time was, in fact, nice, if not totally necessary.

We suspect that interior design will always be more art than science, and there are too many variables of space and taste to simply hand the job over to AI. The best solutions are always going to include a component of human interaction. And yes, that’ll probably cost extra. But as the writer alludes in the article, it’s hard to write an algorithm that determines whether your arrangement feels cluttered or spacious, or whether a color scheme is going to fit with your ability to not spill things on it.

A talented interior designer can process all those variables, and may even anticipate potential issues with the “dream layout” in time to avert disaster. Digital is limited by its programming. Designers are only limited by imagination. And sometimes budget.

An interior designer’s assistant, not replacement

The most valuable design apps may be the ones that enable designers rather than actually replacing them. Occipital’s app TapMeasure, which launched this week, is a great example: with a few clicks, it allows you to create a virtual 3D blueprint of any room in a home, including windows and wall corners, to create a quick portable reference you can access anywhere at any time. Definitely beats a notepad!

Ultimately for a designer, the most valuable app may be the one that helps translate an intangible vision into a tangible (or at least visible) rendering for a client. In some cases, the power may be more in the ability to spark inspiration than to actually fulfill it.

Some interior design apps to explore

Sportelux lists five of their favorite interior design apps here. And Geekeasier adds five more. And even Zillow is joining the app rush, investing in an app from Hutch Interiors that enables users to create a virtual rendering of a space, then apply stylistic filters to envision the room through a variety of design schemes.

There’s no shortage of options — it’s just a question of matching your needs and mobile skill levels to find the ones that best fit your process.

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