As an interior designer you may well already have a favourite interior design software program which is your go-to when designing new spaces for clients. But is it working the best it can for you and your business? Or are you in the market to upgrade?
If you’re in the process of searching for new software, you’ll quickly come across SketchUp. The design heavyweight is without a doubt an excellent tool for design and construction professionals, but it does come with a high price tag and steep learning curve which can lead interior designers to look for a SketchUp alternative.
SketchUp does have many benefits if you’re using it for interior design. However, it is primarily CAD software (computer-aided design) designed to assist with civil and mechanical engineering and product design through direct modeling or parametric modeling.
It still has excellent elements intended for interior and architectural design, however customers are often paying the software’s high price tag without using a wide range of its features.
This is where SketchUp alternatives come into play. Here we will look at the top features SketchUp offers to designers and how these top five SketchUp alternatives compare.
What are the Key Features SketchUp Offers Interior Designers?
One key feature that makes SketchUp so popular is its 3D rendering capabilities. With the ability to bring your designs to life for your clients before they take the plunge, your business will exude professionalism from the get-go.
Three-dimensional designs will help you spot problems with ease and let you get ready for the next step of the design process in shorter time frames. They are also fantastic for helping your clients visualise and understand the plan, to keep the project running smoothly and on time.
Whilst 3D plans are fantastic, 2D renderings are also needed in whichever CAD software you choose. Essential for creating floor plans and for showing detailed sections of your designs, the 2D features in SketchUp can pull details from the 3D renderings and these elements work harmoniously together.
This is a key element to look for in any SketchUp alternative you are thinking of using.
Along with the key aesthetic details, SketchUp also lets you lay out the more practical aspects of your designs such as lighting and electrical plans for a well-rounded, finished plan. It’s essential to look for more than just aesthetic aspects when considering SketchUp alternatives.
Vast Design Library
When browsing for CAD software, you’ll want to look for programs that will help you design efficiently. Not having to model every detail of your design from scratch is a big draw for many of the top software tools and it’s again where SketchUp excels.
The SketchUp 3D Warehouse is a vast digital library filled with product models from top brands around the world which you can instantly add to your designs, so your clients can get a realistic look at the ideas you have for their project. This will in turn help them to visualise your plans.
Designing on the Go
Another key benefits the tool offers is that you can take your designs on the go, which is a key feature to consider when looking for a Sketchup alternative.
The Pro and Studio versions of the tool offer on-the-go capabilities (for example iPad or Chromebook functionality, or even a mobile device) which can be a much easier format to showcase your designs to clients rather than desktops.
There is also SketchUp Go which is solely for on-the-go designing, however, whilst this is a cheaper option, it might not be as suitable for big design projects with intricate details. We’ve seen that learning how to use the CAD software on desktop is easier and helps you to make more use of all the program’s features.
How Expensive is SketchUp for Interior Designers?
As we’ve mentioned above, SketchUp is at the top of the interior design software game, however, it’s a pricey tool for smaller design businesses to sign up to.
There are three main plans to choose from. They are SketchUp Go for £95 per year, SketchUp Pro for £245 and SketchUp Studio for £549. Each one offers more features than the last and there are also many extensions and plugins that can enhance your experience and designs too.
There is a basic free version which can be used for small or personal projects, but this is recommended for professionals.
What is the best SketchUp Alternative?
There are many interior design software programs to choose from, each with their own unique pros and cons. But not all of them compare to the powerhouse which is SketchUp.
So we’ve done the research for you to bring you the five best SketchUp Alternatives that will still give you most of the key features known and loved by the popular software program.
A wonderfully affordable option, Planner 5D has a completely free version for personal use and for professionals, their Pro version is £5 a month or £59.99 for the whole year. This is a fantastic SketchUp alternative for small businesses or those just starting out and will really help you upgrade your designs for your clients.
Along with key architectural design elements like creating 2D floor plans and effortlessly turning these into 3D renderings in seconds. Planner 5D also lets you build a branded profile. This feature really lets your business speak for itself, showcase credibility and allow clients to reach out to you directly.
Not only can you turn any of your plans into 3D designs, but Planner 5D also offers 4K technology for truly realistic renderings. Along with these hyperrealistic renderings, you can also create 360° panoramas to really help your clients visualise the designs you are creating for them.
How Does it Compare to SketchUp?
Whilst it may be a more basic software, they are constantly updating the tool, and new features coming soon will be the ability to chat with clients directly on the Planner 5D platform, walkthroughs to complement the panorama feature, and the ability to create mood boards.
Planner 5D already has many features that align with SketchUp like the ability to design in both 2D and 3D, designing on the go, and a vast design library, and the new features they’re continually adding will only bring this software even more in line with the software heavyweight.
Another fantastically affordable SketchUp alternative is Homestyler. Again free for the basic version, there are then two individual options (Pro at £4.90 per month and Master at £9.90 per month), for those businesses with a team of designers who will need to access the software there is the Team account for £19.60 per month.
They also have an Enterprise account which gives you all of the Team features plus even more branding and customisation opportunities. This account is also where you can access the 3D modeling software.
You have to contact Homestyler for custom pricing for this type of account but judging by the prices of the standard plans on their website, the Enterprise account is sure to still be a cheaper alternative to SketchUp.
With an easy step by step process to creating realistic renders to wow your clients, Homestyler has many key features that will impress you. The first step is to design your 2D floorplan which the software will build your 3D rooms from, this is then followed by simply dragging and dropping furniture into the room.
From here you can render your designs on the cloud so you have access to them everywhere. Once you have uploaded your design the Homestyle browser does the hard work and you can have photorealistic rendering, panoramas, VR virtual tours, and even create animations.
Homestyle offers a streamlined design workflow as one of its many advantages, allowing for easy visualisation for designers and clients. You never need to keep swapping between 2D floor planning and 3D modeling thanks to this all-in-one software.
Another fantastic feature Homestyler offers is a comprehensive library. With over 300,000 3D furniture and accessory pieces and 2D textures available in this 3D model library, you will easily be able to find the right elements to bring your designs to life.
How Does it Compare to SketchUp?
Homestyler is a strong SketchUp alternative that offers many of the same software features for a lower price. The cloud-based interface gives you access to your designs on the go and the extensive library will assist your work at every turn.
The many different account types means you can trial the best version of Homestyler for you and your business, and you can work you way up to the Enterprise account if you aren’t sure you’re ready for that step just yet.
Home Designer Pro
At roughly £480 when converted from USD, Chief Architect’s Home Designer Pro is at the pricier end for a SketchUp alternative however this all-singing, all-dancing software has professionalism at its core.
The Pro version is the most expensive of the three options, however, it has the most editable and customisable features that your designs will greatly benefit from.
As it’s created by Chief Architect, Home Designer Pro has architectural design at its heart which is fantastic for designers that will be getting involved with the plans from the ground up.
On top of the many structural engineering features which will assist architects and designers alike, there are also many of the classic design features we know and love from other CAD software.
All the features of this heavy-duty tool are too many to list, however smoothly switching between 2D and 3D renderings, extensive detail and model library, along with 80+ training videos and 500+ How To articles to help get you started are just a few that you can expect. But there is so much more this software offers too.
How Does it Compare to SketchUp?
Probably as equally as extensive as SketchUp’s offering in terms of features available, Home Designer Pro, however, is arguably better suited to those designing homes with its copious building and interior features.
It may be too comprehensive for those businesses just looking at the interior aspect of design, however, so this is something to consider before taking the plunge. The software’s website has an in-depth comparison tool which is handy for scoping out the features you require in a tool and what may be surplus to requirement.
HomeByMe offers three pricing plans. The first is a free version, followed by the Premium version at £21 a month (£250 for the year), then there is an Unlimited+ version at £41 a month (£490 a year). Something to bear in mind with this software however is that even the Unlimited+ account does have its limitations, for example, you will only get 10 free 360° images. However, you can buy additional packs for a small fee.
One of HomeByMe’s main selling points is it advertises itself as the ‘easiest planner on the market’. Whether you create your floor plan from scratch or upload an existing 2D plan, the software’s ergonomic and intuitive interface lets you create detailed designs with ease in record time.
Along with the photorealistic 4K images and 3D virtual tours that we come to expect with the leading names in this type of software, you can also interact with your clients via the program and make real-time changes in your meetings with them.
Even if you find yourself without an internet connection, you can still access your designs on the go thanks to the mobile app.
We know that an extensive catalogue of furniture, accessories, and furnishings is important when looking for a SketchUp alternative. HomeByMe can easily compete with the big names thanks to its library of over 300 brands.
From La Redoute and Wayfair, to Ralph Lauren Home and Anthropologie, there are real-life brands in every price point to populate your designs with. Which will give your clients a realistic feel for exactly what you can do for them and their homes.
How Does it Compare to SketchUp?
The Unlimited+ package not technically being unlimited is a slight drawback for this software. However, its ease of use, a comprehensive library of real-life brands that you can easily purchase from, and great on-the-go facilities make HomeByMe a strong competitor for SketchUp.
Cedreo is a firm front-runner in the interior design software game, however, it is the priciest of the bunch (even more than SketchUp). There is a free basic version and a Personal version for roughly £105 per project. These options aren’t really suitable for businesses, however.
The Pro version which is their most popular account is roughly £88 per month (£1055 per year), but if you want unlimited access for multiple users then you will need to go with the Enterprise account which is roughly £110 per month (£1321 per year).
Now this SketchUp alternative does come with a higher price tag, so if the price is what’s making you want to look elsewhere, then this may not be the software for you. However. if you’re looking for more purely interior design-led features, Cedreo could be a fantastic option.
Boasting a much easier to use but more in-depth interface than SketchUp, Cedreo is made exclusively for passionate remodelers, home builders and especially interior design professionals. Because of this, every feature has been streamlined to help with the home designing process.
The level of detail you can create in the 2D floor plans, fully furnished 3D floor plans, and photorealistic 3D renderings and walkthroughs are second to none. You also have access to 7,000+ pieces of furniture, decor and materials, and this database is updated every month, so the features you can add to your designs are only growing.
The cloud-based interface means you are never far away from your designs, and you can log in and start working in moments from anywhere thanks to this. The cloud-based interface also means you can work with your clients in real-time to update their designs when you’re with them. Saving on the time-consuming toing and froing that can often happen with interior design projects.
How Does it Compare to SketchUp?
It is a big splurge, but we urge you to give this software a demo if you are looking for a superbly sleek program that will woo and wow your clients at every turn.
SketchUp is the frontrunner of the design software market, however, that doesn’t always mean it’s the best for your business. The five programs we have shared above all offer some, if not all, (and in some cases, more) of the same features with less of the technical learning required to start using them.
You might not be able to get stuck into parametric modeling or high-tech animation software like you can with SketchUp, but if it’s just interior design software you’re looking for, these are excellent SketchUp alternatives.