Rendering The Apartment

June 30th, 2008 § 1 comment

Since we moved this month to a new apartment, where we finally have space for a decent amount of furniture, it’s time to solicit advice on how to arrange the furniture in our living room for maximum use of space. The bedroom takes no thought; the bed only fits one way, so that’s the way that it goes. The kitchen is just counters, so nothing goes in there. The living room, on the other hand is just one giant room, with a big fireplace and a huge window.

I decided to solicit advice from my mum, who is a professional interior designer, and pretty much the sort of person you’d want to give you advice on where to put the couch. The trouble was that it was hard to express what the living room looks like with just words or numbers alone. Drawing a floor plan might have worked, but it seemed to leave out an overall picture of the room. I’ve tried taking pictures of the room, but the lens that I have for my camera isn’t sufficiently wide-angle to capture enough of the room at once, making photographs lack enough context to make sense.

I decided this would be a good time to teach myself to use SketchUp, a free tool available from Google. It’s not geared towards interior design in particular, rather, it’s a general 3D modeling program, which Google bought to encourage users of Google Earth to model buildings and other objects in free space.

I’ve been very impressed with the ease of SketchUp to create a scale model of the room. I didn’t have to work through a long list of tutorials to start drawing; I could more or less dive right in and begin working on the living room. The interface is intelligent enough that you can work in three dimensions intuitively, without switching between 2D projections to ensure that the computer understands the plane that you’re trying to draw in. Rather than the sometimes-confusing X,Y,Z axes that can be non-intuitive for those not use to dealing with 3D coordinates, SketchUp’s three axes are just named colors: red, green, and blue. By default, your perspective is locked in the Y axis to simulate gravity, and keep you from rotating the model in a way that you couldn’t view it in actual space.

This is the result of my work so far. It’s far from complete, but it did a more-than-adequate job (I hope!) of showing the apartment in scale for furniture-arrangement purposes:

My drafting experience to date has been limited strictly to AutoCAD, which, while it’s the gold-standard, is such a complicated piece of software that I never felt that I was using it correctly, nor getting a particularly good result from my efforts. SketchUp, while a much more specific and limited application, fit this need pretty much perfectly.

I remember some years ago playing with AutoDesk 3D Studio Max, which remains the gold standard of 3D modeling. It was such an intimidating and massive piece of software that I got instantly lost and gave up. SketchUp doesn’t have anything like the power of 3ds Max, but it does do a remarkable job of making what was once a task limited strictly to those with technical training to the masses.

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§ One Response to Rendering The Apartment

  • ap says:

    Loved the photos of the bar!
    Heard alla bout it from Alex.
    Enjoy your house warming/bar warming party

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