12 Awesome Home Improvement Apps

I graduated from college just over a year ago, and I’m finally living in a place where I plan to stay for more than just a nine-month lease. Better yet, I’m allowed to paint and replace things within the apartment. Needless to say, I’m excited to be trying new decorations and renovations after several years of boring, apartment-white walls. I constantly have a project I’m working on, whether it’s finding new furniture or painting a room.

Luckily, I’ve found a number of quality applications to help out along the way as I work to improve my home. I have a few folders on my iPad dedicated to apps related to home improvement in some way. I’ve got apps to help find inspiration, choose paint colors, furnish my apartment and even DIY dedicated applications. There are a huge variety of home improvement apps out there — stick with me after the jump to read up on some of my favorite apps.

Finding Inspiration

Houzz

First up is a great application named Houzz. This app has been on my iPad since the first week of owning one, and it’s always been well worth the space. The app is full of photos showcasing a variety of interior design ideas — over 500,000 photos, in fact. Essentially, the app is like a giant scrapbook of home improvement ideas that you like. You can view photos by room, location or style and save your favorites to your in-app virtual idea book. Photos you save within the iPad application are available offline for easy reference. It’s absolutely my favorite way to look for ideas for the project I’m currently working on.

Price: Free
Requires: iOS 4.1 or later
Developer: Houzz Inc.

Dream Home HD

If you can’t find what you’re looking for in Houzz and need some further inspiration, Dream Home HD is another great (but pricier) app dedicated to providing inspiration for home improvement projects. Dream Home provides hundreds of high-resolution photos that you can browse and save. You can sort by room and style as well, just like in Houzz. You can also search by color, which is an interesting alternative option and one that I really like. Rather than making an idea book like in Houzz, Dream Home allows you to save photos to the favorites folder and then make a customized slideshow of the images. It’s a great application to find inspiration, and a fantastic app to help share those images with others in your household.

Price: $4.99
Requires: iOS 3.2 or later
Developer: Apalon

Adding Color

Paint Tester

Choosing paint can be quite difficult. Luckily, there are a number of applications to help. If you really need to visualize what a color is going to look like before making any decisions (I know I do), then try out Paint Tester. Just snap a photo of the room you are planning to paint, then use the paint bucket tool to apply the appropriate new color to the walls. You can even try multiple colors at once to achieve an accent wall. The app is really quite accurate, as long as the room and photo well lit. It’s my new favorite way to visualize colors. I no longer have to go and purchase a sample to try on the wall, so thanks to Paint Tester, I save a great deal of time and effort.

Price: Free
Requires: iOS 3.1 or later
Developer: Luminant Software

Color Companion

Another battle to fight when undertaking a large home improvement application is the overall color scheme that is going to be put into place in the room. Color Companion is a great app to help produce a variety of color schemes. It won’t tell you the appropriate paint colors, but it gives you a general idea of a color scheme as you choose furniture, art, flooring, paint, window treatments and more.

The app allows you to create palettes from photos and webpages, and provides you with 50 stock palettes. You can create auto palettes from common color wheel schemes like tints/shades, tetradic, analagous and triads. You can create manual palettes as well, for full control over color choices. One really handy feature is the ability to preview a color in full screen — great for comparing the color to furniture that you already own. I love the application – I’m always glad for an app that allows me to take the easy way out (a palette from a picture, for example), but also allows me the ability to make a palette from scratch which I have complete control over.

Price: $1.99
Requires: iOS 4.0 or later
Developer: Digital Media Interactive LLC

ColorSmart by BEHR

I happen to have a Home Depot right by my apartment, so I find myself purchasing a lot of BEHR paint. If you use BEHR paints, this application is fantastic for choosing new colors. You can browse colors from the collections that BEHR offers or choose a color from a photo and find the matching BEHR color. Options are also available to digitally paint photos that you have of rooms in your house, much like Paint Tester. There’s even a calculator to help you figure out how much paint you need to purchase. You can easily save and download the colors, calculations, palettes and more to make purchasing paint easier. BEHR users can definitely benefit from this free application.

Price: Free
Requires: iOS 4.0 or later
Developer: BEHR Process Corp.

Digital Tools

Photo Measures

Sometimes, the iPad is able to replace or improve upon tools you might otherwise have to carry around. While Photo Measures doesn’t replace much but a measurements notebook, it definitely reduces the amount of time spent writing down and sketching out various dimensions and measurements when redoing a room. With Photo Measure, I can take a photo of a room and write down the dimensions directly on the photo. I’m a very visual thinker, so this works much better for me than simply writing down a list of measurements and hoping I remember what part of the room the dimensions correspond to. You can add measurements, angles and text to any photo and then export as a PDF or JPG to send via email or save on your computer. It’s been a huge time saver for me during a variety of projects I’ve worked on.

Price: $4.99
Requires: iOS 4.1 or later
Developer: Big Blue Pixel

Home Improvement CALCS

As much as I love working on and improving my apartment, I don’t spend enough time working on it to remember measurements and calculations necessary to figure out material purchases. Luckily, Home Improvement Calcs is an app with over 115 different calculators for various projects around the home. You can calculate asphalt amounts, number of pavers or bricks to buy, convert electrical measurements, measure the amount of paint necessary and much more. It’s great because the calculators tend to be quite visual, and allow you to input a variety of factors in order to get the most accurate result for your project. It only costs 2 dollars, so even though I don’t use a lot of the calculators as I’m not building a house, it’s been well worth it for the times that I have used it.

Price: $1.99
Requires: iOS 4.0 or later
Developer: Double Dog Studios

I.D. Wood

I try to be really conscious about the products that I purchase and use in my home. This mentality extends to the materials that I buy for various home improvement projects. Wood particularly is something I try to purchase sustainably. Unfortunately, I don’t know a lot about the various types of wood, but I.D. Wood is a great application which features over 200 different species of wood. You can look up information such as names, origins, uses, sustainability and more for each type of wood that is included in the application. There are also a number of other reference tools, including dimensions and conversions, nail size reference tools, lumber information, and more. I use the Search by Use feature quite frequently, and the application always helps me to find the perfect type of wood to use for whatever project I am working on.

Price: $4.99
Requires: iOS 4.0 or later
Developer: Double Dog Studios

DIY

DIY Chatroom Forum

I’m a big fan of DIY communities — it’s how I find ideas for a lot of the projects that I do around the house. The DIY Chatroom forum is one of my favorite ways to get involved and find new ideas, and the app they have for the iPad is great. There are forums for DIY, repairs, home improvement and just a general community section. You can post images, track threads (with optional push notifications) and send private messages. It’s a simple, free and straightforward application, but one that’s unbelievably helpful if you have an interest of any sort in the DIY community.

Price: Free
Requires: iOS 3.0 or later
Developer: End of Time Studios LLC

How-To Videos

Another great way that I try to find inspiration for projects is through how-to videos. Howcast.com offers an app full of a variety of the vidoes showcased on their site. I’ve found videos about screen printing, rug making, furniture building and much more. There are two ways to watch videos: you can watch it all at once in full screen, or you can use the guide mode. I love this mode; you watch clips of each step, with text embedded for each video. You can save and like videos, browse by category or popularity and much more. It’s a free application, great for finding the project that you want to work on next or a video for whatever problem you have currently encountered.

Price: Free
Requires: iOS 3.2 or later
Developer: Howcast Media, Inc.

Furnishing Your Place

Ikea Catalog

You definitely need to think about how you are going to furnish your apartment. I buy a lot from Ikea, in part because the furniture is affordable for me, but more because of the various ways I can repurpose or hack Ikea furniture and still acquire a piece for much less than I might otherwise pay. Because of this, the Ikea Catalog application has a permanent home on my iPad. The application allows you to download the applicable catalog for a variety of countries, including the US. I do wish that the application offered the ability to access all of the products that Ikea offers, not just the ones in the catalog, but it’s definitely better than nothing. I love even more the fact that I no longer need to keep the hefty Ikea catalog lying around — it’s all digital now. It’s a small, free app, so if you do any amount of Ikea shopping, I believe it’s well worth the painless download.

Price: Free
Requires: iOS 4.3 or later
Developer: Inter Ikea Systems

Fab.com

Lastly, we have an application for buying furnishings and accessories for around the home. Fab.com is a site where you sign up and can purchase cool, modern pieces at steep discounts. Fab.com offers a daily dose of design inspiration, access to current sales, a preview of upcoming sales and more. You can browse items by category, price and color (my favorite). You can save and buy from within the application, and share to social networks to earn credits. I’ve purchased a number of items and found a great deal more DIY inspiration thanks to the application. It’s a free download, and just requires that you create an account in order to access the fantastic discounts that Fab.com has to offer.

Price: Free
Requires: iOS 4.0 or later
Developer: Fab.com

Final Thoughts

Home improvement projects are sometimes difficult undertakings, but thanks to a variety of new applications, you can now take on difficult projects with ease. Applications I love include those to provide inspiration, like Dream Home HD, palette creation applications, DIY applications like the DIY Chatroom forum and even shopping applications like Fab.com. They take away the necessity for certain physical tools and give you the ability to easily learn about and research an incredible variety of DIY and home improvement projects.

These are a few of my favorite applications, but as always, I’m curious to hear from you. Do you use your iPad as a tool for home improvement? What are your must-have applications? Share these thoughts and more in the comments below.


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