Home design made easy on the Web

Floorplanner.com combines simple drag-and-drop tools with an online community for swapping ideas.

By Erick Schonfeld, Business 2.0 Magazine editor-at-large

(Business 2.0 Magazine) -- When Jeroen Bekkers's parents wanted to move into a new home in the Netherlands eight years ago, they enlarged their blueprints and made paper cutouts to help visualize how all their tables and chairs would fit. But that ended up being too complicated. If only they could have waited for their son's site, Floorplanner.com, to launch.

Bekkers, a trained architect, heads up a small interactive design shop in Rotterdam called Suite 75. He created Floorplanner to get, much more simply, the same results that professionals gin up with sophisticated computer-aided design software.

Floorplanner's intuitive interface allows for drag-and-drop interior design.
85,000 registered members have already flocked to Floorplanner.

On the site you can draw attractive two-dimensional (and, soon, three-dimensional) rooms right in your browser. After dragging walls into place and dropping in doors, windows, fireplaces, electrical outlets, and the like, you can choose from a menu of 400 sofas, tables, beds, and lamps. You can even add a piano or a child's train set. Everything can be changed with a sweep of the mouse.

Floorplanner has some competition - Boston-based MyDesignIn and Tucson-based Plan3D also target do-it-yourself interior designers - but the Dutch-made site is easiest to use. It also has more Web 2.0 features, like a Flash interface and public floor plans that its community can tag, rate, share, and embed. (Members can elect to keep designs private.)

Kai Yeung, a government manager in Australia, discovered Floorplanner online and is now an avid user. "Your perceptions of the space and things around you really change when you see a bird's-eye plan that is to scale," she says. It also helps her win arguments with her husband. "Every time he has another bright idea about moving furniture or buying new things, I can readily show how it won't fit in the space we've got."

That ease of use is making Floorplanner popular. Bekkers launched the Dutch version a year ago and the English version in April, and already he has more than 85,000 registered members. It's free to create up to five designs on the site; for more, subscriptions start at $29 per year.

Besides subscriptions, Bekkers also hopes to make money from advertising - the digital furnishings themselves could become a form of product placement. He's already in negotiations to include specific furniture lines in his library of couches and side tables. Once members choose a particular piece for a room, they will be able to click on it to buy it, and Floorplanner will collect an affiliate fee. Top of page

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