SketchUp For Interior Design-Space Planning & Visualization

Designers face two big challenges; the first is getting a client to visualize what is being proposed, and the second is achieving that without spending too much time working for free. SketchUp is the ideal solution to both of these challenges. With a three-dimensional model of a room you can make sure everything you want to include will fit and you can add real-life materials to make sure that what works in your imagination looks good in real life. When the model is complete, you can send your client images from any point of view.

The image above is a recent project I modeled for a local interior designer. While it isn’t photo-realistic, it shows how different color, texture and pattern choices all work together. Because the job hasn’t been sold yet, getting from an empty SketchUp file to this point quickly was critical. It doesn’t take long to model the room as that is essentially a simple box. The wall coverings and fabric on the chairs in the model came from photos supplied by the designer. The chairs were downloaded from the SketchUp 3D Warehouse while other objects in the room are simple shell models. The fire in the fireplace came from a photo found online.

In the past, presentations to clients were made with sketches and fabric swatches. That process takes considerable time and it doesn’t allow you to do the things you can do in SketchUp. 3D modeling gives you a problem solving tool as well as a presentation tool. You can answer questions by moving tables and chairs within the room. If there is any doubt about which way to proceed you can copy the entire room, complete with furniture, and rearrange one of the copies. That would be incredibly time consuming if you were working on paper but in SketchUp it only takes a few moments.

You can save as many points of view and variations as you like. Because you are working with one model, changes you make will appear in every saved point of view.  As this job progressed, I exported images from SketchUp and e-mailed them to the designer.

In the real world, a client asking for something different, or something to be rearranged can take a considerable amount of time, and as every design professional knows, time is money. In a SketchUp model changes are almost always a few clicks of the mouse. Not sure about the chair fabric? A few clicks import another option, and a couple more apply it to the chairs. Would the table block the fireplace if it were pulled away from the wall and two more chairs added? Copy the entire room, move the furniture, add two more chairs and you know.

If you want to be an efficient designer you need to add SketchUp to your bag of tricks. You will need to invest some time in learning how the program works, and practicing how to make a model. But that investment will pay off with better presentations. A good image of a 3D model is the ultimate selling tool. I’m here to help you learn through my books, classes or on-site training. Click on my signature below to send me an e-mail.

—Bob Lang

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