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First, I'm not good with home improvement or anything too manual for that matter - I'm more of a computer geek.

I am soon to move into a new empty apartment and I am going to go furniture/appliance shopping soon.

I figured before I start shopping, I need to know where to put things and what fits. So I thought of making a floor plan (a simple one). Having never done this before, I am looking for tips, tutorials, fallacies, geeky tools or anything to make this experience easier and more useful.

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As it stands, this question is leaning towards off topicness. While some answers may be useful for home improvement, the question is more about decorating/interior design than home improvement. Improving the home by placing your couch in the most feng shui position, is not what we consider Home Improvement on this site. –  Tester101 Feb 12 '13 at 14:49
    
You might find some useful tools in this post –  Steven Feb 12 '13 at 17:27
    
I went with floorplanner.com –  nute Feb 14 '13 at 5:00

3 Answers 3

There are numerous approaches from simple graph paper (which can be printed out from free online sites, such as this one) to sophisticated paid-for programs, for example one from HGTV. There are also hard copy layout sets with standard furniture that can be purchased.

You might want to look at one of the free programs, such as Google Sketchup (there is also a more complex paid version). There is a bit of a learning curve, but it has great tools to do three dimensional modeling. The paid version has a two dimensional module called Layout.

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Home Designer

As a contractor, I used to use Home Designer before upgrading to more professional and expensive stuff. They have various product levels to as low as $59. It is a scaled down version of professional software, Chief Architect ($1500-2000).

Home Designer, example

Sketchup

If you are looking for something free, then Sketchup is great, but without plugins is not as easy out of the box to use for floor plans. It is better for 3D designs and modeling than floor plans. That being said, if you want to take the time to look through tutorials and plugins, you can easily do some nice floor plans, and 3D with some extra effort. The great thing about sketchup is you can use it for lots of things. It is very good for quick 3D mock-ups and has very intuitive use once you get accustomed to the hotkeys and controls.

Sketchup, example

There are many other pay and free software out there, these are just some of the ones I have experience with and the two that I would recommend in this case.

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Since you are a self-described computer geek, I recommend Microsoft Word! You don't need to get down to the nitty-gritty stuff just to figure out how to arrange furniture. You can open a word document, set it to show gridlines, and then adjust the gridlines so that they are square and you get enough of them on the page. Figure each one will represent 2 inches or so. Then you can use the "insert shapes" function to add walls and furnishings. Figure an interior wall is 6" thick by the time you add drywall and trim to it. Make rectangles or whatever other shapes you need to represent your furnishings, and add text to label them. For new items you're thinking about buying, look up their dimensions online and make a new shape to represent them. Then you can drag and rotate all of the shapes around any way you like. Best of all, it's free, and you probably already know how to use the program.

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