Interior stylist Heather Milner reveals her go-to sources for ideas and project-plotting. By Gabrielle Fagan.
Whether you’re renovating your first house, embarking on a project or simply want to revamp a room, there’s a surprising list of things to think about before you get started – from nailing the latest trends, choosing colours, making special buys and ensuring everything fits your space.
It can be time-consuming and nerve-racking, as we all want to avoid expensive mistakes – and create spaces that reflect our style and personality. Thankfully, there’s now a whole host of interior design apps out there to help make the process way easier.
Interior stylist Heather Milner, who reveals her home style inspirations and tips through her Instagram and blog, insideherhome.com, has tested some of the best ones out there and chosen her favourites.
Check out Milner’s top go-to apps (good news – most of them are free) and find out how they could help you transform your home…
“It’s a true staple for gathering inspiration! I love the fact that you can discover so many independent makers and craftsmen with just the scroll of a thumb,” says Milner.
WHAT IT DOES: “If you like sourcing unique, one-off items and want to avoid having the same pieces as everyone else, Instagram is the perfect place to find them,” Milner says. She points out that the site’s making it even easier to filter through the reams of interior design content with its ‘save’ feature, which allows you to store images and return to them at a later date. (Free across all platforms)
2. Dulux Visualiser
“Updating a wall colour is a simple design fix and the right shade can absolutely transform a room, but choosing it from the huge range available (not to mention the sometimes bewildering names!) can be tricky to say the least,” says Milner.
“Make the wrong choice and it’s an annoying and expensive mistake to fix, so getting it right first time is super-important.”
WHAT IT DOES: The Dulux Visualiser uses augmented reality to show how its range of colours will look in your living space. You can save and share the images if you want to get a second opinion, and buy your testers and paint directly from the site. It all helps make it easy to turn your vision into a reality.
Top tip: Don’t overlook the simplest way of checking whether a particular colour works in your home by using tester pots and A2 sheets of paper, Milner advises. Paint a whole sheet with each colour choice. Move the pages around the room to get a sense of how the colour will look in the space, and how it looks at different times of the day when light changes. (Free to download on iOS and Android)
“One of the biggest challenges people have is being confident about making the jump from falling in love with an item they’ve seen in a shop or magazine, to biting the bullet and purchasing it,” says Milner.
“It can be so hard to visualise how, and if, an individual piece will fit in the space, and it’s hugely disappointing and costly if furniture doesn’t feel right once in situ.”
WHAT IT DOES: This app can be a great aid, she says, because it transforms the painstaking ordeal of taking measurements and drawing up floor plans into an effortless process. It can compute distances within a space simply by analysing a snapshot. It creates a professional-grade floor plan for your room, so you can see exactly what should go where. (Free on iOS and Android)
“Before you start any interior design project, you should always get a really great mood board in place,” says Milner. “It helps you collate all your inspiration and play around with different colour themes and styles.
“There’s lots of ways you can do this digitally, but there is something about a physical mood board that I just love and PixPax is a great way to bring your ideas to life.”
WHAT IT DOES: A free photo-printing service which lets you print 18 photos (£3.99 for delivery, and extras, such as a Hanging Kit, are paid for separately). “I take all my favourite pictures of furniture, home accessories and colour inspiration and print them via the app and then spend hours playing around with them to spark new ideas,” says Milner.
“Its fun add-ons include hanging display kits for your prints, which make it easy to display photos around the house as well as being great for mood-boarding.” (Free to download on iOS and Android)
5. iHandy Carpenter
“I love this app, which is a carpentry toolkit, perfect for using for small DIY jobs, and avoids the need to invest in expensive tools or pay for a handyman,” enthuses Milner.
WHAT IT DOES: It has five tools, including plumb bob, surface level, bubble level bar, protractor that measures 0-180-degree angles, and a ruler available in both inches and centimetres, she explains. By swiping left and right, the ruler is capable of measuring things much longer than your iPhone, but it’s wise to calibrate the app’s measurement tools first before any serious usage. (£1.99 on iOS and £1.54 on Android)
“I’m a great fan of art and love collecting it, which is why this is one of my go-to apps,” says Milner. “Also, if a gallery wall is what your living room or bedroom is crying out for, this could really help you visualise an art line-up.”
Top tip: If you want to be able to easily move pictures around without damaging walls, she also recommends easily removable 3M Command Strips (White Picture Hanging Strip – Pack of 3, £3.18, B&Q).
WHAT IT DOES: It allows you to visualise the layout and look of art on your wall. You can take a photo of a wall, add an art image taken at a fair or seen in a shop or gallery, and show it to scale. Or, choose from room views available already on the app. It also has a range of colour art prints to buy. (£9.99 to download on iOS and Android)
“It’s a total Aladdin’s cave of inspiration because there are so many images to suit every style and taste,” enthuses Milner. “I particularly like that you can collect and share ideas through a virtual ‘ideas book’. It’s a great way to see what fellow home renovators are inspired by and access any tips/hacks the Houzz community have.
“I also use it to search for architects, home improvement contractors and tradesmen, because you can read real reviews and browse through their past projects to make sure they’re exactly what you are looking for and are suitable for a particular project.”
WHAT IT DOES: Users can get inspiration from over 19 million high-resolution photos of home interiors and exteriors, all searchable by style, location or room. Bridging the gap between homeowners and home-improvement professionals, it can be used for planning projects from start to finish too, and finding professionals to help with any jobs from a directory of over 2.4 million, including architects, interior designers, landscapers and builders. (Free across all platforms)