Great Free Decorating Apps for iOS

It's the last month of the year and two things typically happen; we cook a lot and we clean up our cave. We cook and clean because we tend to have folks over. It's how we reconnect with friends and relatives that we may not have seen in a while, and it's a chance to validate or, in some cases, reset in their minds what these folks remember about us until they see us again.

The last thing you want is for Aunt Agnes to cringe every time she thinks about your Tater-Tot and anchovy soufflé or the size of the dust bunnies lurking in dark corners of the guest room with a decor that hasn't changed since the last moon mission.

Free on iTunes

There's little anyone can do if you are determined to inflict your soufflé on innocent palates, but nuking the dust bunnies is easy. So easy, in fact, that you may not want to stop at dust bunny elimination, you may go for a complete room makeover. Again, it's not that hard if you have the right tools and a plan.

Like cooking, I enjoy the prep work when gearing up for a project. I like masking door and window frames before painting a wall, I get a kick out of measuring and marking before installing, and delight in donning coveralls, dust mask and googles before ripping out old stuff. (I know. I'm weird)

I also like planning and checking out the many possibilities before deciding which decorating options to go with. I'm not that good at it, I'll admit. I usually wind up asking for advice and opinions from my friends, but before I ever do that I've likely narrowed down the choices to a select few.

You may ask how does one get to a point where you have a handful of options to pick from out of literally an infinite number of choices?

Good question, and I have an answer. (Just as you knew I would.)

With any seemingly daunting tasks it is best to divide and conquer. Focus on a smaller, more manageable bit of the project and give yourself some time to accomplish the task and see your progress.

Lets say you've determined that the dust bunny paradise you call a guest room could use some sprucing up. The first thing to decide is how much sprucing is required, and to know that you need some ideas. Will deep cleaning do or do you need to grab the coveralls and jackhammer? Do you paint or wallpaper? Is the carpet serviceable or would you rather install a hard floor (tile, wood, etc)? And what about colors and styles? How about the furniture? How long must Aunt Agnes attempt restful slumber in the lower bunk on Felix the Cat sheets?

Again, such decisions seem impossible because there are so many options. If, however, you have an iOS device then you could download Houzz, a freebie app that is as amazing as it is useful and will help you immensely in narrowing down choices.

HouzzHouzz! You're gonna love it!

Amazing because Houzz makes all other catalogs look as stale and dated those old thick paper catalogs from Sears and Roebucks. (I wonder what ever happened to the Roebucks half of that company) Yet, it's not really a catalog. In fact, it's hard to pinpoint exactly what Houzz is.

HouzzLoads of pix, loads of ideas

Loosely, Houzz can be thought of as an idea generator, and to do so it presents you with photos of finely decorated rooms. Almost 900,000 of them! They are all categorized and indexed so that if you're interested only in bathrooms, for instance, then select bathrooms and you get over 90,000 pix to browse through. Each photo has a backstory or explanation and some are cross referenced to other photos in a project and linked to a particular designer. Other photos have embedded links to store, price, or other information. These are denoted by little green price tags that wiggle when the photo slides into view. Touch a tag and whatever info is available is displayed in a pop-up window. It's pretty cool how it does it and you'll want to play with it a bit.

HouzzGreen tags give additional info in pop-ups

There are far more features in the app than I can cover here and all of it is goodness, so even if you have no intentions of ever lifting a paintbrush, Houzz is an app you'll want on you iOS device just so you can browse. It's what a catalog should be.

Ok, so you've got an idea of how to turn that dust bunny wasteland into an inviting guest room. You need paint, flooring, and so on. But how much? You could break out your trusty tape rule, pencil, and graph paper and start measuring and drawing a floor plan of the room, or you could fire up MagicPlan.

MagicPlanGoodbye tape rule!

Find a spot in the room where you can see all the corners, use MagicPlan to mark corners and doorways, and budda-bing! You've got a floor plan complete with (approximate) measurements! Your tape rule will be so jealous!

MagicPlanTurn and mark out your room

When I first used this app I was amazed at how easy and accurate the app was at capturing my room. You will be too.

MagicPlanResults are amazing

Once capture you can add furniture and other features and export the whole shebang to a variety of media outlets. Like Houzz, there are far more features in this app than I can cover here. It's another free goody that's a must-have.

I know I've only covered two apps this week, but they are good ones. I had intended to include a new app called Wallpapers, but it turns out that to use its most desired feature, to virtually cover a wall of your room through the app, requires an in-app camera purchase, so it's not truly free. Check it out if you want. The basic app is free at least.


And that's a wrap for this week.

Make sure you grab the freebie App of the Week, FlickGolf. It's a good one if you're into virtual golf.