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Kitchen design software is a tool that allows for the creation of any type of kitchen layout to be viewed and costed before the kitchen renovation has actually commenced. The software is usually proprietary, free or purchased with a licence
Computer Aided Design
CAD (computer aided design) is used extensively by architects, kitchen designers and interior designers as a sophisticated kitchen design tool. The software allows the designer to produce extremely accurate and detailed plans. The designer can also change the design easily and quickly in order to explore all the different design possibilities available to them. When the kitchen has been designed in accordance with the clients wishes the software will either generate a Bill Of Materials for ordering or generate a cutting list for production.
2D or 3D CAD
Plans created by the kitchen design software are generally both 2D (two-dimensional) plans and 3D (three-dimensional) models. 2D plans are used by cabinet makers as a blueprint for the construction of the kitchen whilst 3D models are used to help conceptualise the kitchen design with the client. 3D modelling helps to convey other aspects about the kitchen that are not as easily picked up from the blueprints. 3D modeling increases spatial awareness and it makes it so much better to see the actual colour, texture and finishes of the new kitchen before it is built.
How Can It Help Me Design My Kitchen?
So how can kitchen design software help the consumer? Firstly, let’s get one thing straight. The software is not going to be able to help you design your new kitchen. Even though the program is sophisticated it will not tell you where to place the cabinets within your layout. The user must have at least a small modicum of knowledge about basic kitchen design in order to achieve any realistic output from the program. Consider it as a tool. Just like any tool, it is only as good as the skills of the person using it.
Regardless of whether you are a proficient designer or not, it can still help you in many other ways. Once you have created your design by placing the cabinets in their respective positions, adding the benchtops, selecting the doors and finishes etc you can then begin to tweak the design to suit your preferences. For instance you could;
- change cabinet widths, depths and heights
- change the door style and colour
- change kitchen accessories such as handles or knobs, decorative molding etc
- change appliances like a dishwasher. Hide it by adding an integrated door panel
- add or remove walls
- change the floor finishes
- print out a Bill Of Materials or cutting list
- work out the exact cost of the kitchen
The possibilities are endless but at the same time they can be quite limiting depending on the type of software you choose. First you need to determine what do you really want from a kitchen design program. Do you need a rudimentary program such as a kitchen floor planner? Are you happy to use off the shelf cabinetry from a major kitchen manufacturing company or do you require a custom-built kitchen? By determining your requirements as to the type of kitchen you have budgeted for, you can then narrow down the choices to finding the best kitchen design software to suit your needs.
The Different Types Of Kitchen Design Software
Proprietary Kitchen Design Software
Nearly all of the big name kitchen manufacturers have their own free kitchen design software available for their prospective customers. It stands to reason that by providing an easy to use kitchen design tool, the company can then expect to gain a new sale further on down the track.
In most cases, the manufacturer has invested lots of time and money in getting the software exactly right before offering it their customers. They have to make sure that it is easy to use, bug free and fit for purpose. A lot of the hardware chains nowadays have their own in-house designers eager to take your measurements and design a kitchen for you.
- what you see is what you get (WYSIWYG)
- easy to use
- accurate pricing and ordering
- design your kitchen at home and get it delivered shortly after
- can only design a kitchen to the company’s product line
- not overly realistic or detailed
- design software can be kludgey in regards to placement of cabinets and walls
Free Kitchen Design Software
Free kitchen design software can be at times both limiting and restrictive. Whilst there are plenty of free room planners on the internet (some good), most of them are mediocre at best. More often than not they are made by marketing companies eager to sell you their products via the software i.e flooring, appliances, doors and windows. By all means take one for a test drive but don’t expect too much from it.
- large cabinet libraries to choose from
- easy to learn
- online kitchen design, no software to download and install
- some programs assume all walls are square
- some cabinet libraries are not customisable
- restrictive placement of cabinets
- lots of unwanted advertisements flashing in the design screen, sales pitches
Kitchen Design Software (Paid Licence)
Entering the realm of professional kitchen design, getting your hands on good quality kitchen design software can cost you anywhere between $50 to $50,000 (for a full-blown CAD/CAM package).
It has always been said that you get what you pay for and for anyone looking to find an adequate program to help design your kitchen should heed this advice. However, decent kitchen design software can be had for under $300. In this price range you will find more than adequate tools for designing your new kitchen. Features such as 2D plans, 3D modeling, realistic rendered images, fully customizable cabinetry, ability to import and export DXF files (so that they can be read by other CAD software) is just the beginning. Choosing which kitchen design software to use at this price point can be tricky but don’t worry, most companies will offer you a free trial before you purchase.
- easily customizable kitchen cabinets
- large cabinet and appliance libraries
- drag and drop design
- photo-realistic images
- wall creation at any angle
- automatically create estimates or Bill Of Materials
- ability to import and export DXF’s
- user support
- some have a steep learning curve
- some programs much better than others (try before you buy)
- may include features you may not need
Whilst it is beyond the scope of this article to review the various types of kitchen design software available in the market place today, it is important to understand the limitations of the software before committing to purchase. Also, take the time to read the instruction manual. As I have said previously, a tool is only as good as the skills of the person using it.