Whether you’re running a 200-person firm or just starting out as a solopreneur, using the best interior design software will go a long way toward helping you achieve success. You already know that the best projects are accomplished when designers, clients, and vendors are all on board from the get-go; now it’s time to apply that level of organization and collaboration to the back end of your business too. Solid design software will help you not only put together spectacular creative work, but also run your business smoothly behind the scenes. That means project management, financial organization, and productivity-boosting programs that will help you get your work done on time and on budget. From CAD tools to client management apps, here are 18 of the best interior design software programs to use now.
Autodesk AutoCAD LT
AutoCAD LT is one of the most popular software applications used by interior designers, architects, engineers, construction professionals, and more. This reliable software allows professionals to design, draft, and document precise drawings with 2D geometry. A comprehensive suite of editing and annotation tools and an intuitive user interface are what make this a top designer pick. An integrated AutoCAD web application with a simplified interface—and no software installation required—lets you work on sketches online from almost any computer. With the mobile app, users can view, edit, annotate, and create drawings anytime, even offline, on a smartphone or tablet. AutoCAD LT is compatible with both Mac and Windows operating systems, and the most recent version also offers cloud connectivity, an updated measurements functionality, and faster performance time.
With SketchUp Pro’s modeling suite, design professionals will find fast, easy 3D modeling for anything from passive buildings to contemporary furnishings. Create detailed scaled drawings in 2D, then add custom styles and materials that will bring your vision to the screen. SketchUp integrates with virtual reality applications (including Microsoft HoloLens, HTC Vive, and Oculus), so you can walk clients through projects in astounding detail. In addition to its classic desktop software, SketchUp also offers a web tool and unlimited cloud storage, so you can easily store, collaborate, and share work. The software also enables designers to measure building data and analyze anticipated energy use, daylighting, occupant thermal comfort, and HVAC, so you can accurately determine performance and hit post-occupancy goals. On a budget? A free version of the software offers a lighter-weight web-based option.
The latest versions of TurboCAD offer professional software for experienced 2D and 3D CAD users. The architectural design suite includes parametric architectural objects, sections, and elevations, with increased functionality to both the architectural and mechanical areas of the program. Available for both Mac and Windows operating systems, TurboCAD bills itself as “a powerful alternative” to AutoCAD LT, and setup wizards promise a simple transition for those switching from one to the other. TurboCAD prides itself on its photorealistic surface modeling and lighting that allow one to create powerful presentations, and those designing with sheet metal or wood may particularly enjoy these materials-specific tools. Internal and external database connectivity, along with file-sharing options (including support for files from Autodesk, SketchUp, and others), mean your team can integrate and collaborate at a high level with ease.
Autodesk 3ds Max
Ready to take full artistic control of your renderings? With Autodesk’s 3ds Max, clients will experience your proposed work in beautiful, high-tech detail. The software delivers superb graphics for 3D animations and models, as well as games and images. Use the tool sets here to shape and define dramatic environments and objects and create immersive worlds, stunning visualizations, and engaging virtual experiences. The integrated, interactive Arnold renderer allows users to view accurate and detailed previews while they work. And when it comes to productivity, automated processes can help streamline deadlines and content production, so you can spend more time being creative and less time managing workflow. This software is compatible with Windows only.
Use this building information modeling (BIM) software across disciplines including architecture, interior design, landscape architecture, engineering, and contracting. With it, you can efficiently and accurately capture your design intent in 3D and produce complete model-based building designs and documentation; automatically update floor plans, elevations, sections, and 3D views; and use 3D visualizations to see a building before it’s built. In addition to its compelling modeling and graphic components, collaboration across multidisciplinary teams is a key component of Revit. Using BIM 360 Design worksharing, Revit connects teams in the cloud for higher-quality collaboration with minimum IT intervention. Team members can share and save work, rather than switch between email, FTP sites, and multiple other platforms. Revit is compatible with Windows only, but can be run on Mac OS using Parallels.
Among the most popular choices in architectural rendering software, Archicad, which is developed by Graphisoft, enables architects and interior designers to create accurate construction details and estimate quantities of building materials needed. This robust software, a BIM application, also models and coordinates openings (such as voids, recesses, or niches) that are necessary to document and share with engineers and other consultants. In its most recent version, Archicad 23, users can also get upgraded real-time renderings and state-of-the-art visualizations that can be edited on the fly. With the ability to code-check design, enter client requirements, and integrate teams and documents, Archicad remains a top choice in interior design and architecture software.
If all you need is a lighter-weight tool to give shape to the plans circulating in your head, Homestyler may be the best interior design software for you. With this free design software, you can easily build floor plans in 2D and 3D with accurate measurements. Next, pull decor from Homestyler’s library of thousands of real products, including paint, flooring, furnishings, art, and more. The items you chose will be placed in your design using a 1:1 scale. Homestyler will also create a photo-realistic visualization for you and your clients to walk through. Plus, a coordinating app (available on iOS and Android) lets you design on the go. If you’re on a budget, like to experiment, and want a streamlined, easy-to-learn tool that will provide an accurate representation of your decor and designs, this could be the application for you.
As a web-based design platform, Infurnia allows architects, interior designers, clients, and vendors to collaborate and interact during the design process. Detailed floor plans with multilayered walls, advanced flooring and roofing, false ceiling, and customizable staircase tools are available to help you outline your projects in detail. Plus, plans created in 2D can be instantly converted to accurate 3D depictions, while drafting tools can be used to draw elevation views. Decorate with furniture from Infurnia’s partners’ catalog, or create your own library of materials, wallpapers, hardware, appliances, furnishings, and more. While Infurnia’s software is less robust than some other options, this software is easy to learn, so you can customize and share with ease.
Live Home 3D Pro
With Live Home 3D Pro, you can efficiently create precise layouts and furnish rooms—or an entire building. Once 2D plans are drafted (import and trace blueprints or draw from scratch), the software automatically translates your plan into 3D. The desktop version (for Mac or Windows) offers advanced drawing tools, elevation views, a materials library with thousands of furnishings and appliances, and customized materials and lighting editors. Geopositioning and daylighting options help determine siting and lighting decisions, and video walk-throughs—which can be recorded day or night—can be generated and exported as Ultra HD files. Plus, plans and videos can be saved and shared in multiple file formats. Industry professionals on a budget will do well to invest in this affordable software (and corresponding iOS mobile app)—it’s a great introduction to interior design software that can handle some additional complexity.
Substance by Adobe
Adobe’s Substance suite allows designers to create and add precise digital textures and materials to their projects. With Substance Source, Adobe’s high-end 3D materials library, you can browse hundreds of high-quality PBR (physical-based rendering) materials, such as textiles, tiles, flooring, woods, stone, and more. The 1,800-plus downloadable materials integrate with other software applications, like Unreal Engine, Unity, 3ds Max, and Revit, so you can implement pro-quality textures in the pixelated realm. With the Substance Alchemist app, designers and architects can curate texture libraries and collections. Mix and match existing materials, or invent new ones using your own photographs and high-res scans. For projects that require detailed references, the 3D texturing suite offered in Substance can’t be beat.
Launched by a team of architects turned software developers, Morpholio’s applications include digital tools for sketching, journaling, and presenting creative work. Morpholio Board is a particular golden nugget that enables interior designers to create, edit, and execute daily tasks. The app—originally available only for iOS mobile devices, but now a desktop tool for Mac as well—helps designers solve the tough technical challenges they encounter every day. Turn mood boards into spreadsheets, spec books, and contractor-ready cut sheets. Ever spent hours trying to color- or mood-match a particular item? Board can search through thousands of products per second to find real matches in color, form, shape, and style. (Bonus: Its library is filled with thousands of high-end products from established brands like Knoll and Hansgrohe as well as emerging ones such as Eskayel.) Ready to share your ideas? Turn a mood board into a client presentation with the tap of a button, or collaborate on it with colleagues.
Whether you snap hundreds of photos a day to file away for inspiration, are a social media whiz, or need to edit professional photographs of your design work, most interiors firms will benefit from the use of Adobe Photoshop. The oldest and most prominent photo software on the market is also recognized as the industry leader for enhancing and organizing photos. With Photoshop, you can adjust clarity, color, and tone, manipulate effects, or add graphics to your imagery. If you’ve got great pictures and want to take them to the next level, Photoshop is a must-have. As part of Adobe’s Creative Cloud of services, it is available as a subscription service at varying price points.
If you’re obsessed with color (and who isn’t?) and use photography to jog your memory or get inspired, Adobe Capture can unlock a new world from your mobile device. This powerful app transforms images into color themes, patterns, materials, and vector-based shapes. Carry those assets into other desktop and mobile apps—such as Photoshop, Illustrator, and Dimension—to use them across a multitude of creative endeavors and platforms. Part of Adobe’s Creative Cloud suite (you’ll need a free or paid account to download it), with Capture you can edit color themes and make customizable palettes, generate realistic PBR materials and textures, create geometric patterns, and replicate shapes and fonts. The app also offers custom brushes that can be used in other applications, including Animate, Dreamweaver, and Photoshop. Capture can help you find inspiration, connect with clients, and work on projects in a whole new way.
Project management software:
When you’re serious about taking your design business to the next level, you need great project management software to get there. Fuigo was dreamed up by industry insiders and brothers Maury and Mickey Riad (who also own the heritage textile company Fortuny) as a tool to allow interior designers to manage everything from proposals to installation all in one place. In addition to helping you organize and plan projects, Fuigo can schedule and track invoices and payments. Plus, it offers a trade-only marketplace with access to more than 100 top brands, such as Pierre Frey and Established & Sons. Streamline sourcing, purchasing, tracking, and billing with this all-in-one tool that allows smaller design firms to access the resources of much bigger ones.
Built to help design firms of all sizes, Ivy is a program that will help you manage your business more efficiently. Source product, send proposals and invoices, generate purchase orders, and create room boards with ease. A project tracker helps teams stay organized and boost productivity, while a time and expense tracker will help you monitor billable hours and generate reports you can share with clients. An online payment system makes it easy to get paid via wire transfer or credit card; syncing with QuickBooks helps you stay on top of accounting; and data parsing lets you create instantaneous, customized business reports. Ivy’s community resources also offer a place to exchange ideas and best practices. If you want to spend more time on creative endeavors and less time managing business operations, Ivy can help you streamline functions.
Builders, architects, interior designers, and landscape designers can reduce the chaos of custom building jobs with CoConstruct, which simplifies communication with clients and contractors and offers financial control over projects. You could shave days off projects by bundling management, task lists, invoicing, and more here. Clearly present specs, pricing, and files in client-friendly formats to enable more efficient decision making; reduce back-and-forth chatter; and immediately show projected costs or budget tweaks as selections or change orders are made. Replicable templates and documents can also help you make more accurate estimates faster, submit bids sooner, and create proposals more easily. Coordinate field and office visits and create time sheets, purchase orders, and invoices, all from one spot.
Built specifically for the interior design industry, Mydoma Studio has thoughtfully considered what designers need. Here you can simplify mood boards, complete product sourcing, create invoices, accept payments, and track your time. This interior design software also allows you to create a list of personal vendors, send purchase orders with a single click, and then convert those into invoices to send to clients. Mydoma can be embedded within your own website, with your firm’s branding, before you invite other users to collaborate. Got a replicable idea? Create design packages here to sell online and generate recurring revenue. Mydoma also integrates with QuickBooks, Zapier, and Facebook, and can generate customized reports that help you understand your conversions, accounting, and more.
ClickUp was built to support any industry, but for interior designers, this software can really rock. Design-specific templates are geared specifically for the biz, and the program’s time-tracking tools integrate with multiple other apps. Most notably, ClickUp’s comprehensive project management software can help you organize everything at a super-high level, from workflow and business goals to time management and task lists. And because it allows everyone on your team to customize their own views and boards, individual users can tweak the software to best suit their productivity type. Collaborate across a broad range of teams using the outstanding tools for process, task, and time management, get on top of finances, and create detailed reports. Plus, integrations with Google, Slack, GitHub, Outlook, and more bring all your digital tools under one umbrella. If you want to get serious about maximizing productivity, ClickUp offers an endlessly customizable way to take total control.