22 best free online tools for walls, windows and decor, tried and reviewed
22 best free online tools for walls, windows and decor, tried and reviewed
Want the best free online resources for home decor DIY? We’ve tried, tested and reviewed the smartest and simplest calculators, charts, diagrams and apps for painting, wallpapering and window treatments to help you on your way to interior nirvana. It’s the best blog you’ll bookmark all year.
Resources are divided into painting and wallpaper, colour and style, and window coverings. All tools are free to use, although some also have paid-for versions.
Do you think we’ve missed one? Message [email protected] with your best online DIY tools and we’ll look at adding them to the list.
Painting and wallpaper resources:
Paint and wallpaper online tools (NB: paint visualisers listed in ‘Colours’)
1. BBC Paint Calculator: Desktop estimator for 'regular' cube rooms
While not an object of beauty, this nifty tool combines all the best features of other paint estimators, such as paint type and window/door space subtraction, plus has an option to add the cost of your paint per litre, generating an approximate price. This means you can easily compare paint costs between paint brands. It also has a separate imperial-metric calculator above, so you can convert values on page.
2. B&Q Wall Painting Calculator: Best estimator for mobile use
Designed for mobiles, B&Q’s ultra-simple interface is a bell- and whistle-free estimator that’s ideal for use on the fly. The ‘no of coats’ input feature is a nice touch.
3. Kitchen Cupboard Paint Calculator: Useful estimator for fitted units
Kitchen cupboards can be difficult to cost out due to the many varying cupboard heights, not to mention side and back boards. This useful paint estimator accommodates this with a calculator that tots up the total paint requirements for worktop fronts, cupboards and tall cupboards. While designed for kitchens, it could be made to work with any fitted units, such as bedroom storage. Click the information (i) for clarity on any measurement.
4. Style Library Wallpaper Calculator: User-friendly tool for standard wallpapers
Style Library knocks it out the park with this simple wallpaper estimator. What sets this wallpaper calc above others is the 'pattern match' feature that takes the size of your pattern repeat into account, and the ability to add each wall separately, instead of calculating wall footage ahead of time. Imperial fans will appreciate the choice of imperial/metric input. The clear design is also well optimised for mobile.
5. Amara Wallpaper Calculator: Best estimator for specialist wallpapers
If your wallpaper requires a special match type, such as reverse hang on alternate strips, Amara’s calculator has you covered with a clean and simple estimator that works in cm or ft. You'll need to calculate wall area beforehand, or one at a time within the calculator.
6. DIY Data Sash Window Painting Sequence Chart: Useful print-out guide
Type ‘window painted’ into Google and half of the search predictions revolve around ‘window painted shut’. Window painting sequences swerve this painting pitfall with a step-by-step paint guide. DIY Data’s chart features a clear explanation of not only the paint order but also when to lift and shut your sash. It looks a little wordy but it’s very clear, and a perfect resource to print off and refer to as you paint.
7. Practical DIY Casement Window Painting Sequence Chart: Useful print-out guide
This smart chart clearly shows the best order for window painting, using a top-down approach to help prevent smudging and scuffing as you work. A great guide for DIYers looking for an expert finish.
Colour and style resources:Colour palette generators, pattern finders and paint visualisers
8. Coolers Colour Scheme Generator: Best quick and intuitive palette finder
This tool is really popular with graphic designers and web developers, but it’s equally applicable for room design. It’s easy to get started, with a quick tutorial too - just press the spacebar to instantly generate combinations. Lock favourite colours, add additional colours to your palette, and save your finalised scheme in several formats. Alternatively, extract colours from an inspiring photo, or browse the palette gallery to pinch inspiration from others.
9. Pigments Colour Scheme Generator Android app: Best for Android users
Similar in style to Coolers, Pigments is a quick and easy phone app known for its simplicity. Users can generate palettes of up to 8 colours, and even select their favoured colour theory - including triadic, compound or pastel. The free version comes with ads, which are annoying but infrequent. Premium version features the option to upload an image to colour match.
10. Drop Colour Palette Creator iOs app: Best for iPhone users
Another app intended for the graphic design world, nonetheless Drop’s highly intuitive interface makes it easy for design muggles. Import photos or create a palette from scratch, adjust shades with pinpoint precision, then save or even export your chosen scheme.
11. Google Lens iOs and Android app: Image recognition app for finding style lookalikes and matches
One of Lens’ many strings to its bow is the ability to search via pattern or shape. So if you see a pattern or furnishing you like, take a snap in Lens to instantly generate search results based on the image look - without having to try and describe it. Alternatively it’s a great way to browse for items that match the style of your existing interior.
12. Valspar Paint Visualiser: Simple paint visualiser
Valspar’s intuitive design and swift load speed are worth the effort of making a profile, and you can add colours at any time. Our top tip is to make liberal use of the painter’s tape function before you begin, and ensure the image you use is bright and clear.
13. Home Stratosphere’s Paint Visualiser: Best for colour switches
In addition to the usual roller and paintbrush options, Home Stratosphere’s visualiser allows you to mark off and draw filled areas of colour. This makes it a good option for images with lots of shadow, which don’t autofill properly with the ‘roller’ function. However the crowning glory of this tool is the ease of colour switching - one ‘painted’, click the palette icon on the colour swatch to instantly change the room’s colour.
14. IKEA Kitchen and Bathroom Planners: Best for fixtures and fittings
IKEA has several interesting planners but their room planners are the most comprehensive, allowing users to replicate their room online, before filling them with virtual IKEA wares. Add, position and rotate items from IKEA’s huge inventory catalog, then save your design or click ‘Item list’ for an itemised, costed list. The wall paint colour is a bit off at the time of writing, and I never did learn how to apply wall covering, but for planning in furniture and fittings it’s a truly brilliant bit of kit, with lots of options for viewing at every angle.
15. Wayfair Room Planner: For a full furnishing overhaul
Wayfair takes its behemoth product catalog into the VR realm with its virtual room planner. Place anything from double wardrobes to artificial plants. The image quality isn’t yet perfect but it’s certainly ideal for getting a sense of space. Best for rooms without fittings, such as receptions and bedrooms.
Window covering resources
Buying, fitting, and making blinds and curtains
16. Make My Blinds’ Online Quote Generator: Best for comparing blind styles
Made-to-measure blinds just got easier with this instant price generator. Enter your blind’s required width and drop, and gaze on in wonder as it offers an instant quote. Unlike other quote generators your window’s dimensions are stored so you can get the pricing for other styles without re-entering your measurements.
17. Sew Helpful Curtain Fabric Calculator: For hand-making curtains
This calculator manages to provide plenty of options (for instance its pattern repeat feature and 6 pleating choices) without being too jargony. Results include estimations for lining and bukram.
18. Sailrite Roman Blind Fabric Calculator: For hand-making roman blinds
A simple and straightforward calculator with all terms explained. Generated results include sizing measurements, calculated measurements (such as seam allowance) blind diagram showing proportions and mapped folds, plus a list of required materials for constructing the blind. Results can be saved as a printable pdf.
19. Make My Blinds blind diagram generator: Best for custom wooden blinds
On wooden blinds, the spacing of the internal cords (or tapes on styles with tapes) varies according to length. This spacing affects some shopper’s choice between tape or no-tape wooden blinds, which is why we made a handy generator. Click the small window icon to the upper-left of the product image to generate a view of how your blind will look, including tape placement and headrail height.
20. iHandy Spirit Level Android and iOs app: For installing blinds and headrails
A level fit is essential for good window covering. The free iHandy app turns your phone into a spirit level for easy installation of blind brackets and headrails. A premium version is available with features such as ruler and surface bubble.
21. Ruler by NixGame Android and iOs app: For measuring screw placement
Measuring handle protrusion or window depth is now as easy as opening an app. We like this one in particular because of its calibration functionality, which ensures accuracy, and the dual height and width measures, which make installing brackets in the recess easy.
22. DIY Doctor Screw and Rawl Size Chart: For drilling and screwing
After some useful prelude on screw types, DIY Doctor features two useful screw charts. The first converts from imperial to metric screw sizes - useful if your instructions and screws are differently labelled - and a second chart which details recommended pilot hole and rawl plug sizes.