Renovating or decorating? There’s an app for that

Home improvement projects can be fraught with difficulties – from the ever-present threat of budget blowouts, through to choosing the right finishes and colours, or finding furniture to fit your new space. However, thanks to technology, the solution to almost all these problems is now in the palm of your hand. The App Store and Google Play both feature hundreds of smartphone and tablet apps aimed at streamlining various aspects of the home renovation process. You can control your spending, find suppliers, see how your living room might look painted blue, and plan your landscaping – all with a few swipes on your phone.

Here is an overview of reno-focused apps that rank well in terms of user-friendliness, practicality, and fun factor.

Apps for inspiration and ideas


Available on the App Store and Google Play. Free.

Houzz began life as a photo-sharing app, where homeowners, designers, builders and architects could post photos of impossibly beautiful homes and gardens. Houzz now contains more than 16 million photos of house interiors and exteriors from across the globe, making it the perfect place to begin your home renovation or decorating journey. Images can be filtered by room, décor type, colour, location and more. You can collate and save pictures into your own ‘ideabooks’ for future reference.

Additional functionality includes:

  • inspiring and informative articles, advice and how-tos
  • trade listings allow you to connect with local home improvement professionals such as architects, builders and trades. View their work, read reviews and message them directly through the app
  • a sketch tool to annotate and draw directly onto photos
  • advice forum where you can get home design and renovation advice from other members of the Houzz community.
Morpholio Board

Available from the App Store. Free to download; subscription required to access full functionality.

Build your inspiration with this fun interior design app, which allows users to compile mood boards of furniture, colours, fabric swatches, sketches and more. It was created by a team of professional interior designers, and includes an integrated product gallery to browse, as well as import and edit images from your photo library, the web or your Pinterest boards. Functionality includes:

  • easy drag-and-drop function to arrange images
  • draw or write over images
  • post your boards onto social media
  • Augmented Reality ‘colour capture’ function allows you to grab swatches from any surface
  • once you’ve collated all your products into a board, the app automatically generates a shopping list spreadsheet with notes and links that you can export directly to Excel or email.

Apps for project management

Rapid Reno Mate

Available on the App Store and Google Play. Free.

Designed by Australian renovation and design expert Naomi Findlay, this all-in-one renovation app helps you plan your renovation and keep track of your budgets, timelines and tradespeople as work progresses. This multifunction app was designed to simplify the renovating process, and judging by the glowing reviews on the App Store, it works like a dream. Functions include:

  • develop your budget and track spending in real time (to avoid cost blow-outs)
  • create a timeline, track the order of your trades, manage appointments
  • search for products from a range of leading suppliers (including Beaumont Tiles, Bristol Paints, Carpet Court, Hume Doors). You can input a price point and the app will show products that are within budget
  • compare costs to ensure you are not being overcharged on products and services
  • find nearby stores or suppliers
  • calculate how much carpet, tiles, paint, etc. is required for each area to help avoid wastage
  • inspiration gallery plus renovating tips and advice.

Apps for developing floorplans and room layouts

Planner 5D – Interior Design

Available on the App Store and Google Play. Free version and paid premium version.

A user-friendly 3D/2D design tool that can help you plan and visualise a renovation, extension or new home build. You can create highly detailed floor plans in 2D or 3D, adding in fixtures, finishes and even furniture from the app’s 3000-item catalogue. The app also generates realistic 3D images of what your completed project will look like, taking the guesswork out of design and product selection.

Room Planner & House Design 3D (iOS)/Room Planner: Home Interior & Floorplan Design 3D (Android)

Available on the App Store and Google Play. Free to download; weekly subscription required to access full functionality.

This is a super-fun app that lets you virtually decorate and furnish your home. After generating a scale plan of each room, you can add in wall colours, then pull in pieces of furniture from the app’s furniture catalogue, which includes the most popular products from Ikea, plus accessories such as wall art. You can move furniture around, ensure pieces will fit, and visualise how your decorating ideas might look before you hit the stores or pick up a paintbrush.

Apps for choosing paint colours

Paint Tester

Available on the App Store and Google Play. Free with in-app purchases.

If you have trouble visualising how different colours might translate on your walls, this is the app for you. It’s simple to use – just take a picture of the room you’d like to paint, then use the paint bucket to apply colours to the walls. You can use multiple colours in a single room, which is great if you’re considering a feature wall. If you’re trying to choose from a bunch of paint-store swatches, you can tape a swatch to the wall, photograph it, then use the app’s colour-picker to select the sample and use it to virtually paint the room. This can help take the guesswork out of how the colour will look based on the room’s light levels.

Apps for garden design

Home Outside

Available on the App Store and Google Play. Cost: $4.49.

This visually appealing landscape design app has all the tools you need to plan and create new looks for your garden. The app contains over 700 beautiful hand-drawn elements including trees, gardens, pools, patios, hammocks, driveways, houses and sheds, solar panels and more, which you can simply drag-and-drop until you’ve created your dream landscape layout. The app also contains some sample designs to inspire or get you started, plus a sketch tool for drawing out garden beds or other free-form shapes.

Home Design 3D Outdoor & Garden

Available on the App Store ($7.99) and Google Play ($5.69). Free version has limited functionality, including no save feature.

This is a 3D design app that allows users to create new landscaping layouts and view them as realistic 3D renderings. Designs can be created to scale by inputting the dimensions of your boundaries and house location. Then simply drag and drop the elements into position to create your ideal outdoor space – the app includes over 100 items such as garden furniture, trees, flowers, swimming pools and fencing.