The desire to express ourselves in our homes—to decorate in a way that reflects our personalities—is an impulse that’s existed for centuries. Everyone from the ancient Egyptians to the Romans adorned their sanctuaries with animal skins, sculptures and murals.
A lot’s changed since then, as have the options for customizing homes. But interior design has only been a recognized profession for around 100 years, having been—according to the New Yorker—invented solely by Elsie de Wolfe. Though, really, it’s hard to say for sure whether that’s true or not.
Before the application of computer-aided design (CAD) in the ‘80s, when AutoCAD arrived on the scene, plans and evaluations for interior design relied solely on hand-drawn imaging. This left a lot of room for mistakes and was invariably time-consuming.
Virtual reality has emerged as an essential tool for a variety of industries in recent years. It was only natural for interior designers to reap the benefits of making this technology a part of their methods, too.
CAD allows for 3D imaging of plans for property interiors—both commercial and residential—but virtual reality goes one step further, immersing the user in an environment that offers unparalleled realism.
VR is just as useful to property owners as it is to interior designers. Designers can better showcase and take feedback on their creations; homeowners can experience the soon-to-be-implemented work in the most lifelike way possible. Aside from actually standing in a newly renovated room, of course.
It all starts with the floor plans. 3D models are created of a given space down to the exact specs. After this is built, using software like AutoCAD, the actual design process can begin. This isn’t unusual for anyone in this line of work. It’s how it’s been done for decades.
Where VR comes in is that, rather than paying for a ton of costly, physical assets, clients can give the A-OK based on digital assets and actually experience them and customize them themselves in real-time. Every piece of furniture, down to every tile and its texture, can be added to a space virtually and demonstrated in a way that’s as real as it can possibly be displayed.
What makes virtual reality so special when it comes to property is that it puts so much control in the hands of homeowners and buyers. They can effectively take a lot of control in the design process themselves.
Exactly like with interior designers, an accurate floor plan is used by property developers to allow people to examine every inch of a living space and can be customized to exact specifications. If you’re looking to make a home in a new build, one that doesn’t even exist yet, you can confidently personalize a space that screams you. That reflects your personality to a tee.
Interior designers are using VR because it makes renders and mockups much more accessible to their clients. Rather than rely on these projections, it’s possible to step into the design and move around objects; open and close doors; change room and furniture colors, and even place artwork and statement pieces in the most desirable spaces.
Being able to do this together in VR prevents making corrections too late or missing the mark on client requests. When homeowners can see what you see, collaboration works so much smoother.
VR removes the requirement for physical mood boards and full-scale mockups. No longer do interior designers need to source material samples for flooring, tiles and fabrics. Every design choice can be recreated digitally and walked through. And if any minor finishes need adjusting, such as carpet colors or fixtures, there’s no need to acquire further—if any—physical resources.
This industry puts a lot of emphasis on environmental impact and eco-friendly designs. But resource consumption can’t always be avoided. Reusing materials with other clients isn’t always possible, either. Virtual reality minimizes these issues and can actually nullify them entirely.
Interior designers have an undeniable ability to turn their clients’ visions into actual, flawless living spaces. It’s a gift. They can realize personalities quickly—something that, for most of us, takes years—and make plans for spaces that accurately reflect them.
But things don’t always go right the first time, or doing so requires a lot of conversation before execution — and with very little testing. Without VR, testing simply isn’t possible in a way that people can truly see how their homes will look before making major investments in furnishings.
Virtual reality gives property owners and designers a chance to see what spaces will look like before the hard work really starts. Or, before it’s too late. It provides a never-before-available chance for everyone involved to walk through a space and actually experience it first-hand. Rather than make decisions after the fact, you can make them now with a lesser impact on resources and time.