Most helpful positive review
224 of 228 people found the following review helpful
Almost had a "refund", so why five stars???
on December 19, 2012
Having been (and still am) a DIY enthusiast for decades, I began using Broderbund's Interior Design software way back in 1995, loved it, and a couple of years later I came across Punch design software. It did an admirable job, and I continued with their software up until my very recent download of Chief Architect Suite 2014. (As an aside, I also want to state here that I have used AutoCad/Mechanical Desktop for mechanical engineering design work for years too, but obviously that software could only be used at work!)
Back to this product: It took a bit of getting used to in creating 3-D views (which reminded me of the Broderbund product in that regard). However, my biggest problem was that I was unable to get 90% of the textures to SHOW in my 3-D rendered views. I browsed their forum, and noticed that many others were having the same "white furniture/objects" problem, and the blame went to "graphics card problem". I wrote to the company and they suggested a refund. I "sat on it" for a day or so, and went back on in to the program. I did NOT want to give it up as I "liked it too much".
The reason for my review's title of five stars and the refund comment is this: I SOLVED the "white furniture/object" problem quite accidentally. I was using the render option to view my finished room layout, and noticed in the drop down menu the last option to 'toggle textures'. Hmm, I wonder... and YES, *that* was my problem all along. I kick myself for not having seen it sooner, as I wasted hours of frustrated tinkering - wavering from "get a refund" to "I wish it would work". Sigh.
I wanted it to work because what I "could" see of the rendering in 3-D was superb - baseboards and crown moldings, EXCELLENT cabinet placement, whereby corner cabinet counter tops "automagically" fill in the missing space when two corner cabinets are properly aligned either side by side or angled - and the counter top is still editable for a different choice of granite, or say, marble (and the cabinets color/material can be changed too).
Another very nice feature (over Punch) is when you do a door cut-out - i.e. a "doorway" with no casing. The baseboard ACTUALLY WRAPS around the wall's thickness. In Punch, there's nothing there to cover the wall's thickness... just sharp cut-off baseboard edges at the back and the front of the wall... so KUDOS to Chief Architect for giving me properly wrapped baseboards!
Also, I love the accuracy of the wall's thicknesses - and choices - anywhere from standard 2x4 studs, to 2x6 - all the way to CBS or poured concrete walls! WOW!
I also like the choice of "style" when you first start a new plan. I have used "cottage" theme, and "traditional" already. In both cases, the doors and baseboards are styled to fit the theme. Cottage gave me bead board cabinets and such, painted in white. In Traditional, the doors were of dark wood. Why is this good? Back in my Punch days, the baseboards and doors and windows were always of a light wood, and if you wanted them to be painted white, you had to painstakingly select them and add the styling. That's not to say you can't or won't change the colors of window frames/doors etc in your chosen theme using this software, but it's very handy when baseboards/crown/window frames are already the color you want! I spend too much time using these programs as it is (ask my husband!!! he says it's a sickness with me) - so any time I can save NOT having to do tedious painting of baseboards throughout, is just FINE with me!
Their texture/color library is excellent too (plus you can download "brand name" furniture groupings and the like, for free. (Some you have to pay for IF you have a more expensive version of this software). I actually can put LEATHER on my couches now! And there's an abundance of different types of glass: block, stained, opaque, clear - for instance. I also love the smoothness of their rendered bathtubs! The Punch version was awful compared to this software (but then again, I'm running this on a brand new Win8 PC with upgraded memory etc. but with the standard video card).
The program seems to be smart enough to know that when you paint one wall a certain color, you don't have to fiddle around "breaking" a long (interior or exterior) wall, so that you can have different wall colors and/or tile/textures in rooms on either side of the perpendicular wall.
Another reason I chose this software was due to my having a newly purchased Win8 PC, as mentioned. Also - THE PRICE of this software is unbeatable.
There's much much much more about this program that I like, but right now this review is turning into a book. Sorry about that. If you've never used house design software before, I hope my review will help you in your purchasing decision. I won't say it's been the easiest to learn (as many other reviewers have stated) but then again, neither was Mechanical Desktop a walk in the park either, learning-wise!
As another reviewer stated, it's GREAT for furniture arranging - no more aching backs "seeing if something looks right" and then changing your mind... do it on the PC screen first, then call in your buddies for a furniture-moving party!
If you're as bad as me, (some 400+ plans created over the past 17 years) then I highly recommend using this product to get those designs out of your head and into 3-D form.