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One of the more convenient innovations that companies are latching onto these days is the online design tool. Be it for kitchen, bath, flooring, etc., these tools give shoppers the ability to visualize products in a more natural setting before they purchase. In some cases, you even have the ability to save it to view again or purchase the item online later. As you might imagine, some of these tools are more flexible than others, each having a slightly different learning curve.

Let’s take a look at some of the more interesting examples.

Flooring

ArmStrong Design a RoomOne of the best online design tools comes from Armstrong. Famous for their flooring materials, they offer an outstanding tool called “Design a Room” that can be used to visualize different types of materials in various settings. Just select a room type and enjoy experimenting with a very large array of different flooring materials that can be filtered by floor type, look and color.

To make things even more interesting, you can change the wall color in the room by choosing from the Sherwin-Williams home paint library. This gives consumers a great deal of flexibility and one could easily kill an entire afternoon playing with all the combinations.

By creating an account, Design a Room will allow you to:

  • Store and share all your inspirations in one place
  • Plan your project color schemes
  • Save your favorite products
  • Get project estimates by answering a few simple questions.
  • Connect with the best retailers (and get quotes)

This is a well thought out, attractive and powerful online selling tool. There are so many options, though, that you may not see all that it is capable of doing unless you pay close attention. Take your time with this tool so you can really get the most out of it.

Behr ColorSmartPaint

Armstrong incorporates paint into the their visualizer, but Behr takes it to a whole new level. Behr Paint offers a tool called ColorSmart that is accessed from the “Find Your Color” menu on Behr‘s home page. This very comprehensive piece of software allows you to save projects and even order paint samples online. This is a smart tool, but can be overwhelming at times with almost too many options to play with.

Kitchens

In a category dominated by high-price pieces of software, and design options galore — the most customizable online design tool for kitchens happens to be the most complex. Some makers actually supported an online CAD (computer aided design) application.

Although it’s very powerful, be prepared to spend a little time reading the extensive online instruction manual. The good news is that if you are a design professional, this can greatly increase the ease at which you can create a fully customized kitchen.

For those who aren’t quite so technically inclined, you might try GE Appliances Virtual Kitchen Designer.

Counter Tops

St. Paul Home Products offers the most impressive online custom countertop designers available with their Vanity Top Customizer. It sports a multitude of exclusive colors and a variety of designer sinks. Also included, is the ability to create slabs that can be used for anything from vessel sinks to bar and table tops. Designing is easy with a step-by-step walkthrough and you can purchase online anytime through The Home Depot.

St Paul Home CounterTop Customizer

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There’s your quick rundown of some of the best online design tools available. Honestly, it only scrapes the surface. I’d like to hear from people regarding any interesting design aids that you’ve found.

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Note from the hosts:  Sean, the author of this post, originally included this bit in his article (which I moved down here): “Full disclosure: The author is an employee of WoodCrafters Home Products, the parent company of St. Paul Home Products.”  Enjoy and am certain he would welcome a comment.

For more help on Design, please see our category linked there. ~jb