Rearranging the Furniture, Minus the Aching Back

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If you've ever sat on your couch and wondered how it would look across the room, or whether the walls would look good in red, that was your inner interior designer speaking. Now apps offer a quick and powerful way to indulge your home design fantasies.

Home Design 3D ($7 on iOS) is one of the better ones. It turns a two-dimensional view of your home into a three-dimensional graphic that you can view from any angle and even walk around as if inside. It is so sophisticated you could use it as a starting point for designing a house, rather than just tweaking your interior design.

You start in two-dimensional construction mode, adding rooms and adjusting their size and shape to match your place. You can add measurements and drop in items from a database, like a water fountain or a grand piano. There's a host of options for doorways, windows and other openings, and you can choose to color walls or floors with textures that look like wallpaper, carpet or wood or simply a uniform color.

When your design is done, you click on the 3-D button to turn it into a 3-D version. While the app tries to be as intuitive as possible, with clear icons for control and some attractively designed screens, it has a steep learning curve. The fact that you have to pay for access to some textures and pieces of furniture might also frustrate you.

Build App Pro is a similar Android app that costs $6. The app also has a plan-view design mode that lets you set out the layout of rooms and furniture items, plus a 3-D graphical view. Like Home Design 3D, the app tries to make design simple -- it uses icon-driven menus and easy-to-learn gestures.

But it has a small number of 3-D furniture models and a tendency to crash.

A far simpler app is Houzz Interior Design Ideas, free on Android and iOS, which will probably be more useful in the early stages of any redesign plans. The app's main feature is an extensive catalog of photos, listed by categories like Family Room, Wine Cellar and Exterior. Tap on a category, select a subcategory like Modern or Tropical and scroll through the photos. You can bookmark designs you like in your own idea book, or export them to Twitter or through e-mail. The app also has lists of products for sale and professionals who can help you realize your design.

If you're just thinking about changing the color of your furniture or walls, there are many apps to help. The best-known color matching system is Pantone, and it has an official MyPantone app for iOS.

The app's main feature is a representation of the famous Pantone color swatches. Scroll through the rainbow of options by dragging and then tapping on a color you like. This brings up a new page of data on that color, including its official Pantone code number and a tab for "harmonies." This tab takes you to a graphical display of colors that complement your initial choice. If you are inspired by a color you see in real life, you can snap a photo of it and have the app recommend the closest Pantone color. You can save your favorite colors for a visit to a store to find matching paint. The downside is that the app costs a steep $10.

Quick Call

Swype has been a popular alternative text-entry system for Android. It speeds typing on an on-screen keyboard because you simply glide your finger to the next letter in the word you want to type. Now the app has come out of its beta test mode, and has hit Google's Play store for the first time, priced at $1.

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This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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