It is not unusual to order a piece of furniture and realize, once it arrives, that it is completely wrong for your room. A red couch that looked amazing in the showroom may turn out to overwhelm your small space. And the last thing you want to do is invest in a heavy piece of furniture you have to pay to return.
To help visualize that couch in your living room, furniture sellers and interior design firms have been rolling out new apps and online programs that allow you to try furniture at home using virtual and augmented reality.
The new tools generally come in three flavors: 3-D features that enable you to virtually place furnishings in your room using the camera on your cellphone; styling apps that let you snap a picture of your space, clear it of all furniture and drop in new options as you shop online; and interior decorating services that do it all for you, selecting furnishings on your behalf and creating 3-D renderings of your room from photos you provide.
To see how well they really work, I tried out a few from the comfort of my bedroom and living room — both of which need a refresh, if not an entirely new look. Some were trickier to use than others, but each one offers a glimpse at the future of online furniture shopping and interior design.
For $69 per room, this online interior design service offers two surprisingly lifelike 3-D renderings of your space. The process is easy. You provide feedback on the room you want to design, including a rough budget, and take a quiz to help determine your style, selecting photos of rooms you are drawn to. (Because Modsy is an online software program, you can use your cellphone or computer.)