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Virtual House Building: What Does it Take to Design a Home in VR?

13 June 2019

Home design has been a field of professionals for centuries. Sure, an amateur can sketch their home on the back of a napkin but that’s not what visualization is all about.

Most of us may have trouble imagining how a new color would look in the morning light. It can also be quite a challenge for us to visualize new furniture in our apartment (e.g. whether a new wardrobe would fit in with the rest of the room). Professionals have no such problems - they have a wealth of experience under their belts and can tell that at first glance.

Skills and professional software allow them to create visualizations of rooms that look just like the real ones.

However, thanks to modern technology, amateurs can try their hand at interior design, too. With it, you no longer have to hire an artist to create a house plan. Using VR software, you can do it yourself and save a lot of money.

You can come up with a room plan, try different colors, and move furniture around in an interactive environment. However, to be able to do all that, you’ll need some high-tech gear.

What Devices do you Need to Build a House in VR?

If you haven’t been following the tech news lately, here’s an important fact you may have missed. VR technology isn’t as expensive as you think it is. VR is not the future anymore, and VR headsets today carry the same price tag as a new gaming console.

Here’s what you can invest in.

HTC Vive

This $499 device is one of the best money can buy. HTC offers a more expensive Vive Pro, but it’s more of a professional headset. It’s good for teachers and engineers but not regular users.

The HTC Vive will cover most gaming needs as it comes with two joysticks and allows you to operate within the area of over 100 square feet.

Many home building apps are designed exclusively for use with the Vive, so it’s a great investment all around.

Oculus Quest

At $399, the Oculus Quest is $100 cheaper than the HTC Vive but provides the same features. It comes equipped with two joysticks and can be used inside most spacious rooms.

It doesn’t require wires or PC, so you’re free to turn any room of your house into a digital playground. There are some home building apps for the Oculus, but not as many as for the HTC Vive.

Google Cardboard

You don’t have to pay hundreds of dollars to experience VR. The Google Cardboard is basically is a pair of cardboard goggles that turn your smartphone into a VR headset.

You can get one for as little as $5, and the app that comes with it is free. However, there’s a catch: Google doesn’t provide joysticks which makes designing a home impossible.

You can buy a controller to go with your Cardboard, but it may not work as expected. Some home design apps are in alpha stage now, and may only work with headsets they were designed for. However, you can take a look around pre-designed homes or try furniture in AR.

Your Smartphone

For the low-end home design, you can use your smartphone. There is a number of AR apps that let you experiment with furniture or other design elements by looking through your phone camera.

What Software do You Need to Design a Home in VR?

Most VR apps for home design are still in alpha stage. Despite being in early access, they work pretty well and let you experiment with bold ideas. Let’s take a look at some of the best apps available on the market today.

TrueScale

Image source: Steam

Like many other home design apps, TrueScale is in early access on Steam. You can try it out with both the Oculus and HTC Vive.

It’s an all-in-one design solution that lets you create floor plans and 3D interiors of rooms. Browse the vast catalog of design elements and create your ideal room within minutes. But be careful - it’s highly addictive and you risk getting stuck in VR for hours.

Since the HTC Vive allows you to move freely within your room, you can experience the new design by fully immersing yourself in it.

TrueScale is probably going to be very popular with professionals for its great textures, variety of elements, and the ability to upload your own. That said, there isn’t anything that an amateur can’t master.

VR Home

Image source: Steam

VR Home looks a bit cruder than TrueScale but it has all the features of TrueScale except for floor plans. If anything, VR Home lets you create homes that look more lively.

This room in particular looks like a college crib. If you’re a student dreaming of a room like this, you’d better ditch the essays on professionals and enjoy a walk around your future home after a hard day’s work.

It’s hardly a tool for a professional but amateurs will find it really useful for setting furniture and walking around the room. It doesn’t support the Oculus, though.

Room Designer VR

Image source: Steam

Room Designer looks good but doesn’t have a rich catalog two previous apps do. You can plan the house right on the floor, apply a texture to walls, place furniture and use a couple of decor elements.

It’s pretty good but not the best Steam can offer. It’s only for the HTC Vive, too.

Symmetry

Image source: Steam

This Vive-only app positions itself as a professional solution but the graphics and textures it comes with are anything but professional.

On the plus side, it’s the only app that lets you create exteriors. You can also turn a CAD file into VR. Given that Symmetry is still in alpha, there may be some problems with that, though.

Build.com

Image source: Apple Store

Build.com is a home decor store. Its AR app is designed to help users see if the things in the catalog fit their apartment.

This great marketing move makes for an opportunity for some low-end virtual home building. On the downside, it only features the store’s products. They only ship to Canada and the US.

IKEA Place

Image source: Apple Store

Ikea Place is also an AR decor app but it’s a bit more useful than Build.com. The thing is, Ikea stores are present in most countries. This means you can make your design come true pretty fast.

Walk Around Your New Home

Creating a home design in one of these apps is really easy. The only thing that may stop you from walking around your new home in VR is the price of a headset.

If you already have one, you should definitely give these apps a try. If you don’t, you have one more reason to consider buying one.

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