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If you’re planning to do a kitchen remodel, it’s hard to make design decisions when you’re staring at the “before” version. Luckily, there’s a way to visualize a new layout for your kitchen, see the updated space from various angles, and try out different materials and appliances all before spending a single cent on the actual renovation.
The best kitchen design software provides users with the tools to transform one of the most heavily trafficked rooms in their home. These programs are relatively easy to use, compatible with multiple operating systems, and offer realistic renderings, 3D tours, and a plethora of options for countertops, flooring, fixtures, and more.
The Best Kitchen Design Software of 2022
Best Overall: Virtual Architect Kitchens & Baths 10
Pros & Cons
- Beginner-friendly interface
- Builder Wizard tool that expedites the design process
- Ability to upload your own photos
- Large selection of cabinets, countertops, and flooring
- This version is only compatible with Windows
- No free trial
Why We Chose It
One of the reasons Virtual Architect tops our list is that you don't need prior design experience to use it. The software allows homeowners to upload photos of their own kitchen so that when they're mixing and matching countertops, paint colors, finishes, and stains, they can see how their actual space will be transformed. There's also a library of appliances and furniture to help bring the entire look together.
If you're changing the layout of your kitchen, Virtual Architect's Kitchen Builder Wizard tool can create a new floor plan in a matter of minutes. Some software forces you to design exclusively in 2D before transitioning to 3D, but this program lets you drag-and-drop items and test out a variety of materials in whatever view you want.
The Kitchens & Baths 10 download costs $39.99 and only works with Windows. If you have a Mac, you'll need to buy the Home Design software, which is the same price but doesn't include as many kitchen-specific features.
Best on a Budget: Kitchen Planner
Pros & Cons
- Free to use
- Little instruction needed
- Almost every component can be customized
- Keeps a record of anything added to the design
- Photorealistic renderings aren't available
- Must add items in 2D before seeing them in 3D
Why We Chose It
Kitchen Planner isn't built for professionals, and that's what makes it perfect for the average homeowner. Though it's not as flashy as other programs on this list, the browser-based software's features are incredibly intuitive and surprisingly comprehensive. For example, when putting in cabinets, you can choose from a number of different heights and widths, change the placement of the handles, and adjust the backsplash all in one step.
The program is completely free and accessible to anyone with internet. You don't even have to share an email address to get started. A great deal of customization can be done within the actual planner, particularly when it comes to the floors, walls, countertops, and hardware.
As you add more and more items to your layout, the software generates a "parts list" that automatically keeps track of measurements, materials, and specific design elements. Once your plan is complete, there's an option to request an offer from a kitchen designer in your area who can help usher your project into the next stage.
Best Floor Plan Creator: Ikea's Kitchen Planner Tool
Pros & Cons
- Free browser-based software
- Lots of room for customization
- Object library includes actual Ikea furniture and appliances
- Generates an itemized shopping list
- No image rendering of any kind
- Not recommended for use on mobile
Why We Chose It
If you're reconfiguring your entire kitchen, we recommend Ikea’s free Kitchen Planner tool. You start from scratch, entering your own dimensions along with the locations of water hookups, windows and doors, and any other items of note. Once you’ve put that information in, the tool will make suggestions on how to best optimize the space, or you can skip that step and customize the floor plan yourself.
An important thing to point out: All of the cabinets, appliances, and furniture featured in the Kitchen Planner are limited to Ikea’s product lines, but there are multiple benefits to that. Every item you use in your design is added to a shopping list, giving you a rough estimate of how much the materials will cost. You can also make purchases directly from that list.
One downside is that the software doesn't have 3D image rendering, but it does auto-populate detailed 2D floor plans that can be shared externally.
Best 3D Renderings: Home Designer by Chief Architect
Pros & Cons
- Custom cabinet tools
- 360-degree panoramic renderings
- Extensive 3D catalog of appliances and fixtures
- Trial version available
- New users will likely need to watch the training videos
Why We Chose It
Chief Architect offers a variety of design software, but the Home Designer series caters specifically to DIYers. It combines a user-friendly interface with the advanced 3D renderings that pros rely on to visualize a remodel. But before you get to HD images, the software's 3D library and custom cabinetry feature—which lets you test out different styles, materials, and colors—will help you create your ideal kitchen layout.
What we love most about Home Designer's rendering capabilities is that you can see your design from almost every angle imaginable: separate cameras exist for exterior, roof, and landscape shots, a dollhouse camera provides unobstructed interior shots, and an elevation view captures the room head-on. You can also set up your own camera locations and opt to include realistic shadowing, reflections, and other lighting effects to get a feel for what the actual space will look like when everything's in place.
There are three Home Designer software programs to choose from, but most homeowners will find what they need in the cheapest version—Home Designer Suite ($129). In terms of kitchen design, there's not much more you can do with Home Designer Architectural ($249), so it's not worth the extra $120. The third version, Home Designer Professional ($595), is way too advanced for the average design enthusiast.
Best Selection of Materials: Foyr Neo
Pros & Cons
- 14-day free trial
- Access to 50,000+ 3D objects
- 4K photo renderings
- No design experience required
- Plans start at $44/month
- Costs extra to export floor plans from a Basic account
Why We Chose It
Foyr Neo Home Design software will make you want to spend hours decorating your kitchen thanks to its gigantic library of 3D models—more than 50,000, in fact. You can easily toggle between 2D and 3D views to ensure the look is coming together correctly, and once the materials, textures, and colors have been set, 4K renderings will bring your creation to life.
It's hard to know how useful a software program will be without a test run, which is why we really appreciate Foyr Neo's two-week free trial across its interior design products. The best part is you can try it without having to enter your credit card information, so you won't be forced into starting a subscription once the trial period is over.
The Basic plan should fit most amateur designers' needs, with between 30 and 60 renders per month. Users have the option to pay $59 month to month, or they can save 25 percent by paying for 12 months up front (which comes out to roughly $44 a month).
Every software program on this list offers valuable tools for design novices. Though some platforms have a bit of a learning curve, they can do wonders for your kitchen renovation project.
Our pick for the best overall kitchen design software is Virtual Architect Kitchens & Baths 10. Its narrowed focus means more attention on kitchen-specific features, like cabinet configuration, and the option to upload your own photos allows you to see what any changes will look like in real time. Switch out paint colors, finishes, countertops, appliances, and more.
How to Choose the Best Kitchen Design Software
The kitchen is often one of the most used parts of a home, so coming up with a design that's both functional and aesthetically pleasing is important. As we've already established, kitchen design software can be a great resource, and while many programs share similar features, they're not interchangeable. Consider the following factors before making a purchase:
- Cost: Some software requires a monthly subscription while others can be bought for a one-time fee. If there's a free trial option, take the time to test out the product first.
- Tutorials & Demos: Not all software is intuitive, so get a feel for how time-consuming it will be for you to learn the ins and outs of the program through video tutorials and written documentation. This is where free trials really come in handy.
- Available features: Before committing to a certain program, make sure it has the tools you'll need to reach the finish line. For instance, if you plan to share your design with a contractor, software that doesn't allow you to easily export your kitchen layout won't be of much use.
- Compatibility: There's a big difference between browser-based software and downloadable software. Before you buy a program, double check that it's compatible with your specific operating system. This information can typically be found on a company's website under a section called "System Requirements" or something similar.
Kitchen Design Software vs. Hiring a Pro
Kitchen design software is frequently the first step in a long renovation process that will require a majority of homeowners to hire a professional. Unless you have an extensive background in design, a contractor will need to look over the floor plans you created to make sure that the layout you envision is doable. There's also the matter of budget: It's typically much cheaper to work within an existing blueprint than reconfigure your entire setup. This type of software is really meant for people who are passionate about design and have a good idea of what they want. In the end, you'll still need expert help making your dream kitchen a reality.
If you're looking for a remodeling contractor, Angi (formerly Angie's List) is a great place to start. The company will match you with pros in your area based on the type and scope of your project, allowing you to compare quotes and reviews all in one place.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Kitchen Design Software the Best Option for Customization?
While many kitchen design software programs allow quite a bit of customization—from the flooring and countertops to the light fixtures and appliances—there's only so much you can do on one of these beginner-friendly platforms. For example, you may not be able to add a detail like custom molding. A professional designer will have much more advanced tools that can accomodate your every request, including the ability to add their own 3D models instead of being restricted by an item library, no matter how big it is.
Is Kitchen Design Software Easy to Use?
Some kitchen design software is incredibly easy to use and requires little to no experience. The best programs offer a support hub with written instructions, how-to videos, and a direct line to customer service. Before making a purchase, think about how much time you'd be willing to put into learning the software.
How Much Does Kitchen Design Software Cost?
The price depends on the complexity of the software, its accessibility, and who it's designed for—amateurs or professionals. There are some free programs that will work well for the average homeowner, though you typically have to pay for features like 3D renderings and automatic building tools. DIYers shouldn't be paying more than $150, though most software falls in the $40-$100 range.
We compared more than a dozen of the most popular kitchen design software to determine our top choices. The companies had to be reputable industry experts with a largely positive customer service record. We also factored in price, platform compatibility, ease of use, and available features. Programs with kitchen-specific tools received extra points, provided the functionality wasn't too complicated.