Design vs. Designing

By Gail Doby, ASID
CVO & Co-Founder, Gail Doby Coaching & Consulting & Design Success University

In the previous article we reviewed the most popular comprehensive design software programs. These products are suitable for both commercial and residential projects at any scale. Highly versatile, their enhanced functionality comes with a hefty price and a considerable learning curve. If you do mostly smaller residential design and remodeling projects, you may want to choose one of the more affordable, user-friendly products created for that purpose.

Live Interior 3D is a home design software specializing in creating floor plans and visualizations of interiors and furnishings. Basic enough for consumer use, it offers features that make it a viable option for design professionals who are looking for a user-friendly program to turn their design ideas into impressive visuals to share with clients. Layout the interior in 2-D and then easily convert to 3-D to add finishing touches. With an extensive library of objects and finishes to choose from, and the ability to import models from Trimble Warehouse, you can quickly and easily try out different design schemes. Renderings can be exported in a wide range of image formats, PDFs and even a 3-D video walkthrough you can upload to YouTube or Vimeo. Available for either Mac or Windows, the Pro version starts at around $70.

3Dream is a web-based 3-D room planning application offering easy-to-use templates and image libraries. You can draw in 2-D and then convert the finished drawing to 3-D. The Pro version details each item in a room and generates a shopping list as well as other reports, such as image lists and a designer bio. The free version is limited to two projects for one year, but the other versions are very affordable (beginning at $9.99 a month for the Standard version up to $49.99 for the Premium version).

Minutes Matter produces only 2-D drawings but is customizable and offers quick room templates (space plans, kitchens, bathrooms, window treatments and bedrooms), an illustration library, and drag-and-drop functionality to simplify image creation. The latest version works with QuickBooks and offers a quoting tool to make quoting and accounting quick and easy. It comes in a desktop version (starting at $497) or an online version for $52.60 a month that is compatible with PC, Mac and most mobile devices. The Quickbooks and quoting tool plug-in costs an additional $395 for a one-time purchase with either version.

Each product offers a free trial or demonstration, plus online training and support, so you can explore the ones that appeal to you most before you buy. If you don’t require the complexity of CAD and want something more user-friendly than SketchUp, one of these programs may better suit your needs.

Gail Doby Coaching & Consulting


  1. MaryKay on July 16, 2016 at 7:14 am

    Thank you Gail for your review on 3D software. We currently use MM but for 3D we might look into one of the other versions.

  2. Sherrie Lynn HARRIES on July 28, 2016 at 9:07 am

    Thanks for these options.
    I look forward to trying one of these as I’m sure they would work well for most of my jobs

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