How to Design a Virtual Room for Free

by Aurelio Locsin

If you're tired of the way a room in your home looks, you can always freshen it up with a new design. However, redecorating a room can be an expensive and time-consuming proposition when you factor in painting the walls, replacing floor coverings, adding furniture or changing structural features. And you may not even like the final result, especially if you have no experience with interior design. Luckily, you can try your hand with little effort and at no cost by designing a virtual room.

Browse a site like VirtualRoomDesigner.com, which lets you experiment with photographs of actual rooms. To start, click on a room button like "Living Rooms" and then click the photo of the room you want to design. From the "Area" drop-down, select whether to define the "Floor," "Walls," "Trim" or "Ceiling." Then choose the color or type for that option. For example, choosing "Floor" lets you choose "Hardwood," a color group, a wood species and a finish. Your selection appears on the picture. Click "Enhance" to see a larger version of the image. If you want to save the pic to your hard disk, right-click on it and select "Save Image As."

Browse Moove.com to create a room that is three-dimensional and through which you can wander and share with friends. You'll need to create an online character known as an avatar, whose movements you can control. Any friends you invite to this room need to create their own avatars as well. You can create as many individual rooms as you want through an easy-to-use interface. Use palettes and menus to select options for wall color, floor services, furniture and even pets. You then drop your selections at any location inside your room.

Try the virtual world of SecondLife.com for more control over the structure and appearance of the room and its contents. You can build anything that you can imagine, like a palatial throne room or the inside of a cottage, by managing and texturing three-dimensional primitives. You can then control your creation by writing sophisticated programming code. For example, you can create a structure that floats on water or a glass-and-steel box with working fireplaces and TV sets. You can try the site for free and build your room in public "sandboxes." However, since the sandboxes are cleaned of any objects every night, you cannot leave your creation there. Instead, store it in your inventory and take it out whenever you want to work on it. For a more permanent structure, you need to upgrade to a monthly membership, as well as buy a plot of virtual land on which to erect your building. But this upgrade is optional, since you can store and take out your room as often as you like.

About the Author

Aurelio Locsin has been writing professionally since 1982. He published his first book in 1996 and is a frequent contributor to many online publications, specializing in consumer, business and technical topics. Locsin holds a Bachelor of Arts in scientific and technical communications from the University of Washington.