Design Apps + Tools You’re Going to Want to Have


It’s time to update what’s happening in the digital world of web platforms, design directories and design apps. Here are the design apps and digital tools that I am loving right now and can make a design pro more efficient, creative and productive. I know you are going to want to play around with these.

For a look at more design apps check out this recent post.

 Waterlogue- Release the Artist in You

Capitalize on the popularity of artisan looks and create watercolors of your projects without ever having to pick up a paint brush.  I love what it can do to my before/after pictures and portfolio. There are a variety of ways to customize a Waterlogue image – use a variety of presets or a few key settings- to quickly and easily capture the spirit of your subject. The result is an app that can turn any snapshot into a luminous, lively watercolor sketch. And it’s highly accessible: the presets are based on painting styles.  Thanks to Maison21 for turning me onto this app!

 Painted in Waterlogue Painted in Waterlogue

SwatchMate Cube- The World’s Smartest Color Detector

Throw out your swatch books! Place the Cube onto a surface and it will capture its color, displaying it wirelessly on your paired smartphone. It’s that easy. The Cube makes it easy to instantly match the color of a surface to your favorite paint brands and color libraries.

You don’t measure floor plans using your hands, nor should you judge color by eye. SwatchMate is an essential tool in your design war chest that helps you get on with being awesome.  $80 on Kickstarter. 



Adornly- Your Personal Home Decorating Consultant  

Ikea started it; now Adornly is expanding it. Using augmented reality, this unbeleive app uses a magaizine to make different pieces of furniture appear on your iPad.


After downloading Adornably and creating a free account, you can lay any magazine on the floor of a room and Adornably will use it to scale a virtual image of that room in your iPad. Then wait a few moments for the screen to scan over it, and see that magazine tagged with a green circle on the screen.  Next, you can take photos–to be used to add furniture to at a later time–or pull some from the Adornably catalog to allow it to virtually exist in the room. So if you think that is cool… you can move the furniture around in the room with your finger!  FREE



Spacemaker VR- A Design Tool to Wow Your Clients

Spacemaker VR works with your existing design software (3d Studio Max, Sketchup, Revit, Rhino, Autocad are all compatible) to export your 3d design files into immersive experiences that you can walk in! Spacemaker makes it easy to quickly jump back-and-forth from designing a 3d space to walking inside it.



Plus, It is super portable- designed to be used on site, at your client’s house, at your office.  Use Spacemaker VR as an everyday design tool to give jaw-dropping presentations. Now you can feel what it’s like to walk through your designs throughout the design process.•Use Spacemaker to test and refine your designs

•Meet you client at the job site, home, or office, and walk through the design at any stage in your design process

•Answer an RFP with a walk-through experience instead of a physical model or renderings

•Use your existing 3d model files to create new and exciting virtual reality experiences

All this for $249 on Kickstarter.





Magic Plan 3.5

I have been demoing Magic Plan for a couple of years now and it’s a great way to create floor plans using your iPad or smartphone. I have found it to be pretty accurate and to be honest, there is something compelling about standing in a client’s living room and creating a floor plan using a camera. Users were asking to go a step further and wanted to use MagicPlan as a business tool to capture not only the shape and dimensions of the room, but also incorporate additional information about the floor plan for professional usage.  So MagicPlan 3.5 helps capture additional elements at the site using “smart objects”:

•             Each object added to the floor plan (an electrical object, a piece of furniture or a structural element) can be assigned a comment, a picture and specific attributes. These specific attributes can be customized, and may include the price, the sku number, or even a specific Q&A.

•             An annotation can be placed on the floor plan and can include a photo and a comment. Either general or specific annotations can be used; such as “to do’s”, shapes (circle and rectangle), and more.

•             A revised PDF layout (including each of the objects) will create ready to use business documents. FREE


detail-0666636001363241997 mplan



Storehouse is a way to tell visually driven stories- i.e. your projects and proposals. You can import images from your photo library, Dropbox, Flickr, or Instagram, then easily drag and pinch them into a gorgeous layout, peppered with as much written narrative as you’d like.

“One of the things we’re trying to achieve with Storehouse is the feeling you get from physical paper.”

This tactile approach makes Storehouse’s interface as approachable as it is avant-garde. Storehouse has an editing system that imports your images as neatly organized thumbnails, which you can stretch, crop, and zoom to your heart’s content. But you can’t screw things up, because Storehouse has engineered some logic into the backend, meaning that your photos and text, however intensely you manipulate them, will always find some grounding visual sense rather than resembling an overzealous five-year-old’s scrapbook.

Why, you ask would I care- as design entrepreneurs we wear many hats and this is a great way to build presentations, brochures, tutorials and much more.




Color 911 

Color 911® helps you create your own colors, select colors from themes or photos, combine colors to create your own palettes, organize colors into folders, share or email to designers, friends or family, and so much more! Created by a recognized color consultant, there are more than 50 downloadable color themes. Each theme has 42 different colors; every theme includes colors that work together for whatever your color needs are:

•             FINDING YOUR COLORS is easy – Use designer color themes, create your own color on the color wheel, select colors from an Internet or from a snapshot .

•             EDIT your colors on your palettes to adjust hue, saturation or brightness. You can reorder your color selection, change color themes, lock in a color, duplicate a palette, with name modification and select colors from a photo.

•             BUILD your personal palette library and create folders using the palette preview tool, which makes organization easy


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