In an age where six billion people own a cell phone (and 80% of Americans sleep with their cell phones next to their pillow, according to TIME), it’s important for us as designers to stay up to date on the newest app technology. Technological app developments for interior design have the potential to save both time and money—and ultimately grow your business. So, how can we at the Kuotes help you? Well, we all know that not every app is what it claims to be. So today, we downloaded the two most prominent and successful room measurement apps, MagicPlan and Room Scan, to determine which one (if either) measured up to our standards. And, of course, our own measuring advice and guidelines can be found near the end of the article.
Which Measuring Apps Measure Up?
I (Cal here) spent the day measuring the guest bedroom in Kathy’s downstairs using the top free recommended room measuring apps. First, Ro, our beloved creative director, and I quickly measured out the room dimensions with the good ol’ Stanley 25 ft. tape measure. The room dimensions were: 164.5 in x 139.5 in x 96.5 in. Then, it was time to max out the memory capacity on my decrepit Samsung Galaxy 4 (Do I hear gasps? Don’t worry, after years of convincing, the iPhone will be joining me soon. I’ve crossed to the dark side). I downloaded each of these apps and spent about an hour exploring each one. Here are the results:
MagicPlan by Sensopia
MagicPlan gets an E for Effort. The app offers a lot of potentially useful features—with potentially being the key word. Before you can start using MagicPlan, you have to calibrate your phone so that it can adjust its measurements to your height and the height of the room to take more accurate reads. It was a finicky process. The most advertised feature of this app, being able to obtain room dimensions by taking pictures on your phone, is perhaps the app’s weakest feature. Although the graphics during the measuring process looked trendy and cool (I felt like Tom Cruise scanning a room in a Mission Impossible film), the app measured the space to be 224 in x 203 in. x 97 in. It got the proportions somewhat correct, but it estimated the space to be much larger than it actually is. That being said, it was very easy to mark where the door began and ended. Once the app is done measuring, you can adjust the floor plan it produces to match your own measurements…but what is the point of the app then?? Well, MagicPlan does have a lot of cool additional features I liked, including over 450 types of furniture and doors that you can insert into a room to get a general feel for the space (a kind of watered-down mobile version of CAD). The interface, which saves each room you lay out into a library file, is pretty intuitive and user-friendly. And there are useful (if a bit banausic) videos that instruct you how to carry out each task available on the app. You can even add details to a room as small as electrical outlets, right from your phone. Perhaps the most useful feature of this app is that you can share your design thoughts and plans for free with other MagicPlan users. While designers will definitely have to get more accurate measurements and draw up plans for themselves, this app could serve as a useful tool for idea exchange among designers or between a designer and a client. The verdict: Don’t rely on it, but don’t dismiss its value either.
Room Scan by Locometric
Room Scan gets an E for Easy… but there were still several issues that I found while trying to use it. First, it’s for iPhones only, so I graciously borrowed Kathy’s phone to try it out. It worked a bit like a magic wand (at least, it was much more magical than MagicPlan): You just touch your phone to any wall, then you tap the iPhone on the next wall, and then go to another. When you’re finished, Room Scan draws a reasonably accurate floor plan. I also preferred this app’s voice guide to the video tutorials of MagicPlan. It walks you through the application as you use it, saving time and the pain of watching instructional videos. If the app doesn’t have accurate data, it will ask you to repeat the process; if you’re moving too slowly between walls for an accurate read, Room Scan asks you to pick up the pace. Just like MagicPlan, Room Scan got the layout of the room correct, but with a much easier process. However, once again the room dimensions were off—this time by roughly 8 inches, measuring at 173 in. x 148 in. While I’ll definitely grade it higher than MagicPlan in accuracy, it still doesn’t measure the precision that is needed for many design purchasing decisions. But I can see it useful on the day to day. It stands as a valid way to approximate room dimensions and create basic floor plans straight from your iPhone. While Room Scan was very friendly to use, it did not offer all of the additional features of MagicPlan… and it costs $4.99 while MagicPlan is free. Is it worth it? The verdict: Perhaps—but I could also be getting an iced chai tea latte at Starbucks.
While we encourage all of our readers to use these apps for basic planning and communicating with clients, for most projects you’ll need to whip out the tape measure to get the accurate reads you need. For those of you who prefer to measure sans technology (as we mostly do for our projects, to be honest), we’ve listed our techniques and some helpful advice to anybody just starting out.
How to measure your room:
It’s pretty much common knowledge that you can’t begin designing a room before taking the room measurements (You have to know how much gorgeous KKH product you can fit into one space, am I right?). Start by measuring each wall from corner to corner, and don’t forget to note things like doors, windows, fireplaces and staircases. Some other important measurements that are easy to forget are the size and location of vents, radiators, and electrical outlets. When placing furniture, you want to be sure it won’t cover vents or be placed too far from an electrical source.
Here’s a pro tip from The Kuotes: When you are scoping out a location for the first time, avoid the hassle of notetaking by having someone record video while you measure and make comments. This method eliminates the fear of forgetting to write something down, and it’s also much easier to search through video than it is to search through handwritten notes. We used this strategy at our latest design project (previewed below) and it worked brilliantly!
How to measure your wall area:
When you need to paint or order wallpaper, the most important measurement is the wall area. Although most wallpaper is measured in square feet, it is important to take your measurement to the nearest eighth inch. Measure the length of each wall in inches, and measure the height of the room from ceiling to floor. Are you ready for some math? Add together the length of each wall in the room, and then multiply that sum by the height of the room. The result will be your wall area in inches. To convert to square feet, simply divide your result by 144.
How to measure your windows:
Measuring windows is the abhorred behemoth of all measuring tasks. Because window treatments can be so tricky, it is important to take numerous measurements and measure each individual window—even if they look identical. Thankfully, the Kuotes has procured these helpful diagrams, and we will walk you through all of the window measurements you may need.
For inside-mounted treatments, first measure the inside width (A), outside width (B), and sill width (C). You’ll also want to measure the depth of the window (F) and the projection of the trim (not lettered). For your vertical measurements, you’ll want to note the top of the frame to the sill (I) in addition to the inside length (H) and the top of the frame to the bottom of the sill apron (J). Lastly, you’ll want to measure the wall space (D, E) on either side of the window and to the ceiling (K). Not too bad, right?
For outside-mounted treatments, you’ll need a lot of the same measurements in addition to many others: Measure the length from the top of the frame to the floor (G) as well as from the top of the frame to the chair rail (I). If you are using preexisting hardware, you’ll also want to take each of those measurements, including the rod bracket width (J), length to floor (K), and bracket projection (not lettered). Keep in mind that if your draperies are on rings, you’ll want to measure from the ring and not from the bracket.
Some additional tips: For shutters, shades and blinds, you may have to subtract up to one-half inch from the inside measurements. Depending on the style and fabric you choose, you’ll need to multiply the outside width by two or three to obtain the proper fullness for tie-back curtains or draperies. For curtains or draperies you plan to draw open and closed, divide the inside width by three and add the result to the outside width to calculate the proper rod length.
*diagrams were sourced from calicocorners.com
Do you have any measuring tips we didn’t mention? Is there a new interior design you’re absolutely in love with? Let us know in the comment section!