My pocket-sized assistant

Much like any profession, interior designers have tools to help them excel at their trade. Mine just happens to be pocket-sized!

In our smart phone savvy world, clients have become more demanding of their designer’s swift response time and availability. Some of my clients prefer to communicate via text, others e-mail, and I even get a few phone calls once in a while. How else might we benefit from the wondrous advancement of the smart phone? That’s exactly what I found myself asking when I purchased my first smart phone nearly 2 years ago. The problem isn’t finding apps that assist designers in their work, it’s how do you sift through the bad to find the good? Well today I’m offering up a little of my own advice on my favorite apps that help me be a more efficient designer.

My first app recommendation for anyone who fancies themselves a designer is the “Carpenter’s Helper.” This app has several great functions but the one I use most often is the calculator that uses feet, inches, and yards instead of decimal points. For anyone who orders products from across the Big Pond there is a metric option as well! Handy tool for saving countless hours of calculations at the office or in the field. There is a LITE version for anyone who wants to test it out, but it’s quite handy to have the PRO version if you are storing a lot of information and you can organize folders from job to job within the app.

My next app suggestion comes from our friends at Autodesk. While easier on an iPad, “SketchBook Mobile” is a valuable tool for “on the fly” conversations with clients and contractors. I find myself sketching quick elevations just to take notes during a meeting. Once I make it back to my car I can edit the drawing (which can have layers like Photoshop) and finish out more details like color and pattern. Now I not only have a detailed colored sketch for my notes, but I can e-mail the file to share with another designer, vendor, or even the client. An EXPRESS (free) version is available but again, the best attributes are only available to paying customers.

This next app might not be extremely accurate, but it will get you in the ballpark. How many times have you ever been somewhere and thought, my bedroom would look great in this color? Sherwin-williams joined the mobile fever with their “ColorSnap” app. Free to all, this tool uses a photo (take new or existing) and best matches a point of color to a SW color number. For anyone color impaired, it will even conveniently suggest coordinating hues. A great start for projects inspired by objects or when matching existing pieces within a space.

Best for last. “My Measures” is must-have in any designer’s arsenal. Check this out: you take pictures and make notations or draw dimensions right on the image! No more confusing sketches of site measurements,  forgetting the make and model of a furniture piece you purchased, or guessing the scale of a lamp from 2 months ago! By far my favorite and most used app of the lot. Perfect for e-mailing details to a manufacturer making a custom piece or just so your husband remembers which size curtain rod to pick up at the home store. A truly worthwhile investment.

Now you may not think you’re the next Design Star or even a decorator. That might very well be true. But for anyone who is considering a small room face-lift or merely getting their thoughts in order before contacting an interior designer, these apps might be a great place to start the design process. If you have any app suggestions or helpful hints on how to make your smart phone work for you at YOUR job, let us know! We’d love to hear your comments.

As a disclaimer, I am an iPhone user- though not biased against other operating systems. I’m not sure how these work say on a Blackberry.
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