The Easy, Free (!) Tool I Use for All My Home Layout and Decor Plans

published Oct 18, 2020
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If funds were unlimited, I would tap every resource I had to create the home of my dreams: interior designer, artist, architect, the works. But I certainly don’t have unlimited funds, and my guess is that you don’t either. Luckily, things like Pinterest are great for finding inspiration, letting you play interior designer and layout master. But when it’s time to put the metaphorical pen to paper, it helps to put your plans together on a platform with less to distract you from your vision. I’ve designed a lot of rooms and have tested a few tools, but at the end of the day, I reach for one that’s fairly intuitive and completely free: Google Sheets

Google Sheets is not fancy, but that’s one of the reasons I find it so useful. Let’s say I’m putting together a plan for my bedroom. Keep reading for a few ways I might use the tool to help organize my design, each on its own tab within a single Google spreadsheet.

Product Shopping List

A shopping list is probably the most obvious reason I like using Google Sheets to build design plans. If I know I need to purchase new pieces for my space, I’ll start a tab for my list with columns for the item name and description, a link, the price, and so on. It’s also a handy way to keep track of your budget. The built-in calculation tools can help to give you a realistic estimate of what your dream furniture will cost. If I know I’m keeping some of the existing items in my space, I like to add those in too because it gives me a more complete picture. 

Credit: Courtesy of Dominique Gebru

Mood Board 

Are there other tools that work better for mood boarding? Yes. I’m the type of person, however, that likes to have a whole plan in one place, and for this reason, I like to include a tab dedicated to the design vision. Creating a mood board helps me distill all of those great inspiration images from Pinterest into a more cohesive visual concept. 

It takes a few steps to get set up. First, you’ll remove the grid from your sheet (View → Uncheck gridlines). Then, you can start adding your images by navigating to Insert → Image → Image over cells. Above, you can see a peek at my bedroom mood board. 

Credit: Courtesy of Dominique Gebru

Floor Plans 

This is where things get really fun! When I was a kid, I used to draw floor plans on graph paper, with each square representing one square foot. (Clearly I’ve loved design for a long time!) I apply the same concept in my Google Sheets plan. First, you’ll turn the rectangular cells into squares. Then, you use border tools to create the outline of your space. From there, you can create new borders that represent pieces of furniture or navigate to Insert → Drawing to add a shape. This YouTube video is a helpful tutorial; it’s designed for Excel, so some of the functions are a bit different, but hopefully you find it useful, too. Again, this is a basic, low-fi floor plan (designers out there are probably cringing), but if you want to put something together quickly, Google Sheets is a great option.