The best way to avoid expensive mistakes as you give your home a redesign is to experience the new look before you start any work.
This is the purpose of the latest 4D visualisation technology for home makeovers, which allows you to see your newly designed home in impressive detail before you commit.
Just put on the VR goggles — as seen in the BBC television series Your Home Made Perfect — and see walls take up new positions as your space is transformed.
The technology not only allows you to see new room configurations, it can show how the light will change in them throughout the day. Close your eyes and imagine the staircase in your home in a new location, then mentally rearrange internal walls.
It’s difficult. But virtual reality software, or VR, stretches your imagination and illustrates ways to improve your daily life through better layout and design.
VR software is increasingly offered by architects and design retailers, too. More than 200 UK retailers, including 53 in London, now offer this customer service.
The Life Kitchens flagship showroom in Waterloo uses Virtual Worlds’ 360-degree 4D tech in its VR theatre to display a kitchen plan. Also in Waterloo, bathroom designer and installer CP Hart puts your chosen design on to a touch screen at its showroom.
In seconds a visiting designer from Hillarys can use its visualisation app to display the firm’s blinds and shutters on the screen as they would appear on the customer’s windows, and even change the colour until you get the one that is perfect for you.
The Timothy Oulton furniture company offers a 3D room-planning service to show how its pieces would look in your home.
Step inside: Virtual Worlds’ 360-degree 4d technology lets the customer immerse themselves in the design for their new-look room
Nathan Maclean, managing director of Virtual Worlds, leaders in interactive VR design software, says it makes communication between architects and designers and their clients easier and saves a lot of expensive mistakes and disappointment.
“Before now, the designer would have used a standard CAD programme to produce a 2D drawing on a computer screen, leaving much to the consumers’ imagination.
Now 4D technology is so immersive that if any element of the design doesn’t look quite right, adjustments can be made with a click of a button and importantly, consumers can gain a sense of spatial awareness.”
Designer and founder of interiors and property company 1.61 London, Alex Christou, who works with both homeowners and larger-scale developers, agrees:
“It saves everyone money on the project, and they have the comfort of knowing what it’s going to look like at the end. Changes have become a lot rarer since we’ve got this technology.”
'VR removed all the constraints’
Catering manager James, 39, and civil servant Vicky, 40, used VR technology to redesign their family home in Faversham, Kent, as part of the BBC’s Your Home Made Perfect series.
James says using the technology allowed them to bring their ideas together and really see the potential of their Seventies house.
“It allowed us to appreciate the fact that we’ve actually got an amazing space and such an inspiring canvas, whereas previously when we stood in the hallway we saw the space as it was and we felt so constrained. The VR removed all the constraints.”
They ended up making far bolder choices. Vicky had wanted all-white walls but went for deep blue in the lounge.
And while the kitchen seemed small on paper, being able effectively to stand in the “finished” room gave James the confidence to reduce its width.
“Using VR allowed there to be no limit on what was possible, as long as we could afford it,” he adds. “I can see how in five years’ time it will be the norm for everyone.”
Your Home Made Perfect is available to watch on BBC iPlayer and returns on BBC Two later this year.