Encore Software Home Design Studio 15

    If you’ve ever tried to remodel a room on your own, you probably know how challenging it is to visualize the “before” and “after” at the same time. Encore Software’s Home Design Studio 15 ($150) is there to take the guesswork out of your plans: it opens with a simple 2-D grid that you can use to create individual rooms or an entire house, then lets you place common objects into the empty spaces, and do a complete walkthrough from your choice of multiple 3-D vantage points. Suddenly, remodeling becomes a simple matter of making easy drag-and-drop tweaks to a floor plan—only as complex as you want to make it.

    Home Design Studio 15 is no pushover when you decide to dig down to greater levels of detail, though. In addition to letting you retexture basically everything—there are brand name bricks, floors, window blinds, and rug textures galore—you can create separate plans for electrical, plumbing, HVAC, roof, foundation, and multiple floors, plus landscaping. (A Pro version of the software sells for $250, adding security, irrigation system, door, window, and fireplace design features.) The finished products mightn’t be photorealistic, but between the straightforward interface and the ability to completely scope out the rooms you’ve created, you’ll get a pretty impressive sense of how a redesigned room will look and work. Home Design Studio 15 is available in the Mac App Store, and requires a hefty 2.2GB of storage space.

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