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How to Buy Appliances

How to Save on Energy Bills

Remodeling Value

Woods and Islands in the Kitchen

All About Feng Shui

Ceiling Fan Facts and Fallacies

How to Select Carpet

Buy the Fireplace of the Future

How to Hire a Contractor

Get Wired with Smart Technology

Divide and Conquer

Secret Storage Spots

Redecorate Your Home on the Computer

You Can Decorate with the Stars

Are Your Cleaning Products Making Your Family Ill?


Redecorate Your Home on the Computer

Redecorating or refurnishing your home? By now you're probably confused by the wide array of wall coverings, cabinets, furniture styles, flooring, window treatments and other products currently available on the home market. Don't worry, where there's a will, there's a way. There are now interior design programs that let you decorate your home in a multitude of colors and materials right on your PC, complete with 3D renderings of every room, including kitchen and bath.

With these home decorating programs, you're not designing from a sample book, you're actually mixing and matching styles and colors in a virtual reality mock-up of your home's interior. For example, Broderbund's "3D Home Interiors" is one of the original software releases that proves you don't have to spend your entire life in a shopping mall, trying to envision how certain colors or styles would look in your home. Just boot up the ole PC.

"3D Home Interiors" is fairly easy to use, although somewhat time-consuming, and has plenty of features. There's more than enough to get a real sense of how your room or rooms will look with a certain wall covering, flooring or furniture style. You can place objects exactly how you want them, within your home's exact dimensions, and view the rooms from a variety of angles in full color.

The latest in the 3D Home Design Series, "3D Home Interiors" lets you browse more than 100,000 home decorating products, according to Broderbund, most of which are actual items from leading manufacturers. You even get model numbers. The program lets you choose a manufacturer, then view each product in different styles and colors.

When reviewing the software programs, be sure to check out how many manufacturer and product categories are actually in the program. If your favorites don't appear, that makes it hard to design from your preferences. Check the web sites of the software companies or supplement the choices from the web sites of the manufacturers themselves.

Make sure you have the necessary hardware, too. Graphics programs tend to monopolize lots of RAM so it wouldn't hurt to install more than the minimum system requirement. Make sure you have up to 64 MB or more, to make the program run smoothly and to avoid freezing up.

Sources used to create this article include The Journal Newspapers.