Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Apartment Therapy Style Cure: Week 1

It's been a year since I said I was going to tackle our office/2nd bedroom as a remodeling project, but man, it's been really easy to put it off. Auditions, visitors, weddings, birthdays, vacations...and little by little, the room is slowly becoming a crapatorium of Stuff-We-Don't-Know-Where-Else-To-Put.

Well, leave it to Apartment Therapy (and a visit from my mother) to shame me into action . Enough is enough. I'm embarking on the day-to-day group-remodeling task, called the Style Cure, where readers all across the country band together and remodel one room of their choosing in their home. Mob-motivation, call it.

Previous tasks have included sitting in your room for ten minutes and taking "before photos," or drawing inspiration from other sites, magazines, showrooms, etc. So far, so good. But today's is to draw a floor plan for your room, which has pulled me into the rabbit's hole of online floor-planning sites. And what a f*!#@%ed up maze that rabbit has dug.

While I'm sure more tech-savvy people have been able to get the hang of some of these online design programs, I'm about ready to pull my hair out having just spent over an hour on two of them. I mean, seriously. I have a master's degree. I can program HTML by hand and I went to a top 4 school. Shouldn't this stuff be intuitive?

Apparently not, for me. I clicked on Apartment Therapy's list of links for online digital floorplanning programs. I chose one with a nifty name and came to this site: 

I mean, did I time travel back to 1999 and open up a World Wide Web Page on Netscape 2.0? Thanks, but no thanks. Not about to download that hot viral mess to my computer.

Choice two. Autodesk Homestyler one had a nice website and it was at the top of the list, so I tried it out.

All went smoothly...until I started to put in the "furniture." My biggest obstacle with designing our office is knowing how I can rearrange all our bulky furniture and possibly fit it into a very teeny room that's only 11.6 x 11.7. So I was excited when I got to start putting "stuff" in the room. But lo and behold...the large majority of the furniture choices you can upload into your floor plan on Autodesk aren't custom you're stuck with whatever size they give you...unless you own one of the specific couches they have on there-- the Dwell Studio line, the Italia B&B line, etc. I mean, what are the chances I own that couch? Plus, the few couch choices that do say "custom available" only give you specific sizes to choose from rather than a field for you to enter. So if I choose "generic loveseat," it only comes in 46", 49", or 52", for example. But what if my couch is 43"? Those three inches means a world of difference to someone who only has an 11.6 x 11.7 room to work with! What kind of sense does it make for a program that's meant to help you redesign and reimagine a space, inch by inch, to not allow you to custom size your furniture to their actual dimensions in that space?

Spent some time trying to figure it out, looking on help message boards, and finding nothing. Enough was enough. Moving on to another site. Looking through the Style Cure page's comments, I found some people had used another site, The user design wasn't as nice as Autodesk's, but then again it seemed you could actually custom size furniture. Genius.

Yes, that's all my furniture piled to the side as I tried to figure out how to custom change the walls. Those thick black squares in the upper right corner? The default thickness of walls!
All went well...for a few minutes. Of course, for the life of me, I could not figure out why, when I create a room that's 11'5" x 11'5", the thickness of the wall is included in that measurement. So, you see that thick black line that denotes the wall? For some reason, it creates a default wall of 10"--which, for some ungodly reason, allows you to also put furniture in that space. Like, in the wall. And you can only reduce the thickness of the wall down to a minimum of 2 inches. How does this make any sense? Those 2 inches are cutting into my measurements.

Not only that, it's not exactly easy to map out your room to their dimensions. Rather than have fields where you can enter in the length of the walls, you have to drag a line and draw it out. For some reason, once I have my windows, doors, and closets in there, even though they are specified to the inch, they do not actually fit on the walls I've drawn, which are supposed to be to size of 11.6 x 11.7.

So I say, screw it. I'm spending way too much time trying to figure out how to use these damn tools and not enough time rethinking the room. So back to basics. Took me 5 minutes, and while it's not visually that accurate, I can do the math myself and trust my own brain.