I think we’ve all been there. It just feels like its time for a new furniture configuration. The ideas are flowing. “I could move the chair over there and then the coffee table over here and then…”. Out comes the tape measure (maybe) and we start trying to figure out what would fit where and how it would all look.
You think you have it figured out, start moving furniture around and then realize that you’ve blocked half your doorway. Frustration ensues as you try to remedy your “design” and, after a while you end up back where you started and all you got out of it was a workout.
Maybe a little help is in order?
MyFourWalls is interior design and layout, modeling, and floor planning application. It’s basic function is to help you plan the interior design of your home, office, or any interior space. Without too much difficulty, you’re able to recreate the exact space and then play with different wall treatments, flooring, lighting and furniture layouts.
The first time you open MyFourWalls, you’ll be presented with a few template options to start from. This is a nice option if this is the first time you’ve used the software or any other modeling type of software as it will give you a starting point to explore how everything works.
I’ll throw myself into that category. I’ve never used any software like this and being able to start with something essentially gave me a playground to figure out the functions and features of the software.
MyFourWalls also offers an option to start blank if you’d like. If you’re going to be doing a project you will have to go this route more than likely. A template may be close enough to your current dimensions, allowing you to make some adjustments and continue along.
You may be able to get some ideas from the templates as well, but there are only five to chose from so you probably won’t get too many ideas. If you’re really interested in designing and laying out a space you’ll want to start from scratch.
Design and Layout
MyFourWalls feels like a very polished piece of software. Overall, the design is as simple and clean as is possible with all of the features available. I’ll say that I was able to figure out the basic functionality without looking at any help documentation (although there is some nice documentation available).
Everything works, and is organized in a way that just makes sense. If it feels like you should be able to delete something a certain way, odds are that is possible. It was easy to get the hang of, and I attribute much of that to the way the software is designed.
The window is divided into three main sections, the 3D view, the 2D view, and the Inspector.
The 2D view shows the floor plan for the space you’re working on. This would be sort of a “blueprint view”. It shows you measurements of windows, doors and walls, the direction doors and windows open, and the overall layout of all the furniture and other items you have placed in the space.
There is actually a CAD view option for the 2D window if you really want that “blueprint” feel, although it really doesn’t provide you with any additional information. It just strips the color out.
Within this view, the actual structure of the space you’re working on can be altered. This is done fairly simply by just selecting walls and dragging them around. The software seems pretty intelligent and usually figures out if you would like walls to connect, or would like walls at right angles.
There are some buttons above the 2D viewing window that allow you to select the cursor, wall, partition, door, or window. The cursor is the tool that you’d use for interacting with the view. For making adjustments and moving items around. The other tools are pretty self explanatory and do just what you’d think.
The 2D view is fully interactive. Meaning you can insert pieces of furniture and move items around all within that view. You’re able to quickly move the camera to adjust what you’re seeing in the 3D view as well.
Logically enough, there is a camera icon within this view that shows exactly what the 3D view below is showing. It’s very simple to just drag the camera around and super handy to give you a quick 3D glimpse of something you’ve just changed. The alternative is to walk around within the 3D view to find what you’re looking for which is certainly possible, and not that difficult, but a little more cumbersome.
The Inspector view is really where you are able to do all of the serious customization. It displays the adjustable properties for any selected object (this includes walls, windows, and doors along with just about everything else). You’re able to adjust the width, depth, and height of any object along with its orientation and vertical positioning.
For example, if you were working on a layout for your new office, you could mimic the exact dimensions of the desk and also of the computer monitor – even down to something like the garbage can. This is a very powerful feature as it gives you the ability to re-create almost exactly (at least dimensionally) any room and anything within it.
The geometry can be adjusted by entering in exact dimensions or by using a slider. The rotational orientation can be adjusted by entering in a degree of rotation or by using a knob. You’ll have a few vertical options that will allow you to place an item directly on the floor or ceiling or stack on another object.
There is also a manual offset option so you can fine tune even further. Depending on the item selected, you may find some additional attributes that are also customizable.
Though the Inspector view isn’t essential to use, I will say that it is a very powerful piece of the software and really should be taken advantage of if you want to use MyFourWalls to its full potential.
The 3D view allows you to become immersed into the space you are designing. You can essentially walk around and look at the layout from the perspective of actually being in the room. This is a very cool feature, as it will allow you to get a true feel for how something will actually look in the real world (sort of).
An idea in your head — or even a layout on the 2D view — may not look like you hoped it would when you’re actually in the room. The 3D view gives you the ability to get a feel for that without actually having to push around all that furniture.
There are some controls within the view to aid you in wandering around your space, but I found the easiest way was just to use the mouse to move around. Using the scroll ball of your mouse or touch pad its pretty easy to move around.
Furniture and Materials
A big part of a piece of an application like this is being able to view some actual furniture in your space along with some different wall and floor treatments. MyFourWalls comes bundled with a pretty large variety of furniture and also materials to use for walls, floors, ceilings and other surfaces.
The furniture and materials are displayed in the same space as the Inspector and are simply shown via toggle buttons at the top of that view.
The furniture is broken up into categories. You pick a category from the drop down menu at the top of the window and you’ll see all the available pieces. To add a piece into your layout you just drag it into either the 2D or 3D view. From there you’ll be able to move it and rotate it to the exact location you’d like.
The library is quite adequate. You’ll not only find tables and chairs and sofas, but also items like plants, stereos, paintings, appliances, and lots more. You may not find the exact item you’re looking for, but with some custom dimension changes you should be able to get pretty close.
If you feel like there is something that is definitely missing, it is possible to import items. The catch is that they need to be in COLLADA-format (*.dea). Not a huge deal, as that is a bit of a standard in the 3D modeling world (as far as I can tell).
Though Google Sketchup file types are not supported for import, many other modelers have built in the COLLADA format and have items available for download in the Google 3D Warehouse.
I imported a few pieces and had good results for the most part. It wasn’t perfect for all imports, but worked pretty well overall.
The materials window works in a similar fashion as the furniture window. The main category is chosen from the drop down menu, then the available options within that category will be displayed.
The materials can be applied to any surface in your space by simply dragging the material into either view. Each material can also be customized. So here again, if you want to spend the time, you can re-create just about anything you’d like to see in your space.
To go even further into the possible customization of MyFourWalls I should mention that you are also able to customize the structure past adding and adjusting walls. You’re able to adjust the ceiling height and roof angle as well.
If you’re trying to plan an attic type space with an odd angled ceiling this could be really handy. This isn’t difficult to do and it is adjusted by angles, so you’re able to replicate exactly if you’d like.
The floor can also be adjusted in a similar fashion should there ever been a need for that as well!
This relates somewhat to the furniture section, but I thought I’d pull it out separately as it is a pretty interesting feature. Lights can be placed from the “Lights” furniture section anywhere in your layout.
These can be adjusted to the point where you are able to see how certain lights work in certain places. You can adjust the radiation angle, color, and intensity of each light.
It’s definitely not a scientific method to planning your lighting schemes, but it’s pretty darn good, and a nice additional perk to this software.
MyFourWalls runs at a cost of $29 per license. With each license you are able to install the software on two machines. From what I’ve seen with this software I’d say that cost is completely justified. Not only is it powerful, but it is quite easy to use even considering its complexity.
A demo version is also available if you’d like to try it before you purchase. It’s a little different demo than I’ve seen before, but it did the trick. You are able to use the software without a license code fully functional (minus saving) for 30 minutes at a time.
You can keeping opening it back up, but every 30 minutes it will warn you that you are using the demo version and force you to quit or purchase a license.
I’ve never used a piece of software like MyFourWalls before and I have to say I had a lot of fun just playing around. The more I used it, the more useful it seemed. I started to think about the time I’ve spent with the tape measure trying to visualize how rooms would look if I moved this over here or that over there. It just never seems to work out, but with MyFourWalls it would be possible to visualize the space without actually moving anything around.
I always assumed that software like this was too complicated to even waste my time on. After all, I’m no interior designer so my usage would be sporadic at best. MyFourWalls is powerful enough to accomplish everything the average planner/designer would need and probably pretty close to functional enough for even the professional – and all at a really reasonable price.
The real kicker is that it is still simple enough that I’m confident I could fire it back up after a month away and have no problem jumping right back in.
This is definitely a different genre of software to review for me, but I’d have to say that if you’re looking for a piece of interior design software for the Mac, it is absolutely worth checking out. Powerful, simple, and the price is spot on.