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Freeware of the Week! [Sweet Home 3D]

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I have a confession to make: if you’ve ever wondered who the crazy people are who constantly think about home renovation and interior design, I am one of the guilty ones. There is nothing that will distract me from a task faster than leaving me in a room with a property magazine. It’s insane, as I am not going to be buying or doing up my digs any time soon. But I’m helpless in the face of property porn, as defenceless as a weak kitten. And thanks to this week’s pick, I’m probably going to get a lot worse about indulging this bad habit.

Sweet Home 3D is a Java-based design application that allows you to tweak the look of your interiors without needing to actually move furniture around (hey, I’m lazy). You can change colours, shapes, even the placement of doors and windows, all without needing to lift a hammer. If your home is fairly standard there are standard templates that you can begin working from straight away. Alternatively, if you have floor-plans or blueprints of the space you’re going to be changing, you can upload them in BMP, GIF, JPEG or PNG format to work with a greater amount of accuracy.

While the number of options available for each type of room can look overwhelming at first, the simple tree structure does make putting a look together relatively easy. If you have ever used Google Sketchup, you’ll feel right at home. If you’re an absolute novice to CAD, however, you might want to set aside some time to familiarise yourself with the controls. They’re not insurmountable, but they are probably a little off-putting to a novice.

One of the features I find especially useful is the 3D mock-up of what your changes will look like. While you are working from a more convenient 2D grid, the changes you make are displayed as a 3D model so that the textures, shadows and colours that you use are rendered more realistically. And oh yes, there are colours! I can honestly say I have never had so much fun testing out the features on a app that I am reviewing. Like I said, I am probably going to while away innumerable hours playing with Sweet Home 3D, for no better reason than I just can.

Because you can not only download Sweet Home 3D and use it on your own computer, you can also use it as a web app! Even better, if you register, you can save your ideas and plans to come back to at a more convenient date. See? I’m never going to be able to break the habit now. If I ever don’t answer emails or messages, know that I am probably testing out leopard-skin velour as a theme for my spare room.

Do you need to download and install Sweet Home 3D? Probably not. Will it make managing refurbishments and new builds easier? Most definitely. The one question I can answer without reservation is that this is a program that not only does exactly what is says on the tin, but is also one of those underrated applications that you probably think you don’t need, but which becomes indispensable once you start using it. Overlook the fact that I would play around with room layouts all day if I could get away with it; Sweet Home 3D is good, convenient, and scandalously adaptable. Have a play with it today, and tell me in three months time whether you are truly happy getting rid of it.

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