by Mike Zeko

Like many design pros, interior designer Denise McGaha reaches for her iPad instead of a tape measure when she’s on a job site or shopping with clients.  New free or inexpensive apps for smartphones and tablets make the interior design process easier, she says.  Top on her list?  Penultimate, which she uses to photograph a room or wall, then makes measurements on the photo.  “I can email directly from Penultimate to a client or to my office and have bids and measurements for a room put into CAD before I am even back in my parking space,” she says.  Check out these other apps getting raves from designers.

  1. Houzz – With more than 400,000 photos from a wide range of interior designers’ work in its image library, Houzz lets you search for keywords and tag your favorites.  Think of it as an online version of the magazine tear sheet.
  2. uDecore Pro – Take a picture with your iPhone, and the patent-pending Augmented Reality technology and a database of hundreds of furniture models lets you position furniture and accessories in any room.
  3. Sherwin-Williams Colorsnap – For the paint-obsessed – take a photograph of any color you’re trying to match and search more than 1,500 colors in the Sherman-Williams database.  The app also provides lightness, saturation and hue features.
  4. I.D. Wood – Featuring 200 types of wood, including exotics, the I.D. Wood app is an unbeatable pocket guide, with full-screen samples and detailed info, such as wood durability, uses, sustainability and Janka hardness.  There’s also a wood glossary and lots more bells and whistles.
  5. iHandy Carpenter – This app has all the necessary features you’d find on a real carpenter’s tool belt, but without the bulk.  Includes plumb bob, surface level, bubble level bar, steel protractor and steel ruler.  Bonus:  It’s beautiful too!