Home Designer Suite 2020 Review
Since sharing Goldie, the 3D model of our house, I’ve gotten a lot of questions about how I created her. I want to answer all of those questions in this post.
- What software did I use?
- Why use 3D software?
- How much does it cost?
- What can Home Designer Suite do?
- Is it hard to learn?
- Who should use 3D home design software?
- Do I need one of the higher priced versions?
- How do I get started?
Disclosure: I am an affiliate for Home Designer Suite 2020 by Chief Architect. I applied to be an affiliate after I purchased the software for myself and loved it. This post contains affiliate links. All of the opinions in this post are my own.
What software did you use to create the 3D model of your house?
I used Home Designer Suite 2020 by Chief Architect (available for Mac and Windows). After looking at several free options and trials for other paid options, my favorite 3D home design software is Home Designer Suite.
I found it very easy to use even though it has a lot of features. Part of the ease of use is because of the great training videos (see below) that helped me get started.
I recommend Home Designer Suite for beginners and DIYers that need a better way to plan and visualize their design ideas. You don’t have to be a pro or be tech-savvy to create a 3D model of your home.
Why use 3D home design software?
Because it’s impossible to imagine how your design ideas will look in real life. The two-inch paint sample doesn’t help you see what the painted room will look like. A floor plan doesn’t give you a sense of scale or help you visualize the layout of a space.
It’s even harder to share your ideas with someone else (a spouse, a friend, or a designer) without some sort of visual representation.
With a 3D model of your home or a single room you can:
- See what the space will look like in three dimensions
- See it from all angles
- Try different colors and materials
- Move around furniture to see how a new layout will look
- Show your ideas to other people
- Take the guesswork out of design
How much does it cost?
I started looking for a free software option, but couldn’t find any that met my needs. Until I found Home Designer Suite, I thought I might have to spend hundreds of dollars to get a quality 3D home design tool.
Home Designer Suite 2020 is only $99.
If you think about it, $99 is a small price to pay to have more confidence in your design decisions. My husband and I did not feel confident in the design decisions we had made for our new house until I created a 3D model of the entire house.
There’s no comparison between random tile and paint samples and a 3D model you can walk through and see the tile on the wall/floor and the paint on the surfaces, like our teal kitchen island. The $99 we sent on Home Designer Suite gave us the confidence we were making the right choices for $25,000-worth of design upgrades.
In the future, before we buy a new piece of furniture or art or repaint a room, we’ll be able to try it out digitally first. I think Home Designer Suite has the potential to save us from lots of design mistakes (and wasted time and money).
There is also a free 30-day trial, but you cannot save your work on the trial license. I started with the trial and once I realized how easy it was to use (I made the basic 3D model of our entire house in less than a few hours), I upgraded to the paid version so I could save my work.
What can Home Designer Suite 2020 do?
You create the floor plan, Home Designer Suite creates a 3D model. Then, you can view your house a bunch of different ways (see below).
Don’t worry, it’s way easier than it looks. All you have to do is create the floor plan, or use the easy space planning assistant. The software does the rest.
3D Perspective – Outside & Inside
Home Designer Suite autogenerates a foundation, framing, and a roof for your house.
For my house, the trickiest part was the roof because our modern design calls for a hip roof in the back with multiple shed roofs in the front. The first autogenerated roof wasn’t correct. After watching a few tutorials and reading the user forum, I changed a few settings and I was able to regenerate the correct roof planes.
On the inside, you can change the colors and materials for anything you see. You can change the wall color. You can add kitchen cabinets. You can put down hardwood flooring.
You can also add furniture, artwork, rugs, plants, etc. It’s as easy as drag and drop, and you can add/move objects in the floor plan view or in the 3D perspective.
You can change the size, color, and materials of all those 3D objects to personalize your design. They instantly update in 3D.
You can also landscape. You can add driveways, plants, hills, etc. to represent your lot.
Is it hard to learn?
Whenever I consider any new software, the first thing I do is look for support and help articles. I don’t like the steep learning curve that comes with most software and learning new technology in general scares me.
Thankfully, Home Designer Suite 2020 is well supported with video tutorials and user forums. The training videos are clear and concise and organized all in one place. You can access and watch all the training videos before you purchase the software, which is what I did to make sure it would do everything I wanted.
For everything else, there is the user forum called HomeTalk. Whenever I have a question or get stuck, I search the forum for help. So far, I’ve found all the answers I need without posting for help, but that’s always an option too. From what I’ve seen, the other Home Designer users are extremely helpful.
Who should use Home Designer Suite 2020?
Even if you’re not building a house or remodeling, Home Designer Suite is a valuable tool. Here are a few of the reasons to use it:
- Planning a Room Makeover – You know how intimidating it is to make decorating decisions and visualize how everything will look together. With Home Designer Suite, you can give your room a virtual makeover. With the click of a mouse, you can change anything from the wall color to the flooring material to the location of the sofa. You can finalize all your design ideas before you spend a dime.
- Sharing Your Ideas – How many times have you told your husband about an idea only to get a blank stare back? Some people can’t picture in their mind how something will look. You can use Home Designer Suite to mockup your idea and share it.
- Remodeling – If you’re working with a pro, hopefully they’re creating a 3D model for you. If not, you can create one yourself. It would allow you to convey your remodeling ideas to a designer or contractor.
- Building a House – Like me, you can use 3D home design software to model your new house. Goldie (the 3D model of our house) has been hugely helpful for designing our new house. We’re able to try on different colors and materials. We’re able to walk through the house and see it in 3D before it exists in real life. After the build is done, Goldie will continue to be helpful whenever we want to do a makeover or change something in the house—we can try it digitally first.
- Making a Dream House – Once my kids saw Goldie, they asked if they could make their own dream houses. So, this summer I’ll be showing them how to use Home Designer Suite to make a dream house for fun.
Do I need one of the higher priced versions?
I built Goldie, the 3D model of my new house entirely in Home Designer Suite 2020. As you can see, it doesn’t have the simplest roof design. It has a few different siding materials. It has skylights. Home Designer Suite was able to handle it all.
In the course of building Goldie, I haven’t found much that Home Designer Suite can’t do. I think it’s a great tool for most people looking to create a 3D model of their own home.
You may need to upgrade to Home Designer Architectural or Home Designer Professional if…
- You need to design a very complicated deck or roof
- You want more photo-realistic renderings
- You’re designing a house to be built and want to create plans to share with an architect
- You’re a pro designing for clients
I think most DIYers only need Home Designer Suite 2020.
How do I get started?
- Download Home Designer Suite 2020.
- Watch the Quick Start Demonstration.
- These videos are also helpful when getting started:
- As you get more comfortable with the software and want to explore everything it can do, check out all the Home Designer Suite training videos.