Tag Archives: interior design

An answer to a growing problem

Posted by , CastleView 3D:

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Have you heard or read about Pinterest yet?Pinterest Logo

I had seen mentions of it in several places, and was intrigued enough to check it out the other day.  When I finally saw it, I thought Wow, this just may turn out to be the answer to a burgeoning problem in my life!

My problem:  I’m a browser window hoarder.  Yes, I admit it.  That, and Pinterest, are the first steps to recovery.

At any given time, I’ve got between 20-30 browser tabs open, usually things I’ve run across while surfing the web and want to refer to or read later.  Luckily Firefox is good about saving all my tabs when I close out, so I rarely lose them.  But the assortment is unwieldy to navigate and can take a long time to load.  Any videos in the group always start playing again when the page reloads, so a sudden cacaphony of sounds usually results.

Bookmarks don’t really do the trick for me — I already have hundreds sorted into dozens of folders, and can never seem to find what I want when I need it.

So what is Pinterest, and why is it so appealing?  It’s a website (yes, a social media site) for curating (and you know that’s all the rage, right?), categorizing, and sharing items of visual interest found on the web.  In other words, a cloud-based filing system for all those “save for later” photos and ideas I come across on the web.  I know that web curation apps have been around for awhile, but I guess none of them ever “clicked” as being particularly useful for me before.

Here’s a brief description from Pinterest’s About page:

Pinterest is a Virtual Pinboard.

Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes.

Best of all, you can browse pinboards created by other people. Browsing pinboards is a fun way to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.

"Pin-It" buttonThere is a “Pin It” button you can add to your bookmark toolbar that let’s you click on any web image and save it to one of your “boards”:

Once installed in your browser, the “Pin It” button lets you grab an image from any website* and add it to one of your pinboards. When you pin from a website, we automatically grab the source link so we can credit the original creator.

It saves the original web link along with the image!  Hooray!!  You can even pin videos.

[* I have to note here that it’s not quite accurate to say that you can grab ANY image from any website.  It seems that the images have to be of a certain minimum size, and if the image is only visible in a flash or pop-up window, you’re out of luck.]
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Most of my work is accomplished via digital collaboration, so my clients send me links to products, textures, and furnishings they find on the web that they want me to use in the renderings I’m doing for them, or use images to explain how they want their home to look.  And I usually end up with all of those various browser windows open as I work on the project.  So as soon as I saw Pinterest, I realized it could be a very useful resource for me to collect all the web pages and images related to a single project into one convenient location for reference.  And the clients and I could both contribute to it and “pin” images to the “design board” (I haven’t yet figured out how to share a board with only certain people, however — right now it’s either private to me or shared with everyone).

To try out this new idea, I created a mock “design board” with a collection of web resources used in a recent project, a bedroom remodel.  You can see the actual board on Pinterest here,  or here’s a screenshot of it:

Sample Pinterest Board

Sample Pinterest Board

These were all items the client had found on the web and wanted me to incorporate into the model and rendering I was doing for her.  And here’s the final rendering of the bedroom remodel, where you can see all these lovely items in action:

Final rendering -- Lower Level Bedroom Remodel

Final rendering — Lower Level Bedroom Remodel

So I have to say — Pinterest really does seem promising as an answer to my “browser window hoarding” problem, and as a useful tool for collaborating with my clients to collect project resources in one easily-accessible location.

And in case you’re wondering whether Pinterest is a giant time suck like most other social media sites — sure it is.  Big time.  But for a visual junkie like me, it’s a deliciously decadent treat to browse through all the fascinating and beautiful things that other people have found “pin-worthy.”  Visual voyeurism at its finest.

So what do you think about Pinterest?  Does it sound like something that you would find interesting or useful?


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Using 3D modeling and rendering for interior design

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“Seeing it before you build it” with 3D modeling and rendering is really important — even crucial — when building a new home or remodeling your current one.  These projects represent huge investments of money, time, and risk, and you need to be sure you’re getting what you want, and that you and your contractor or builder are on the same wavelength in terms of the design.

But another great application of 3D technology is for less drastic, but still risky, interior design projects.  Perhaps you won’t be knocking down any walls or installing new plumbing fixtures, but when you’re trying to decide on paint and trim colors, fabrics, furniture, upholstery, rugs, window treatments, and accessories, “seeing it before you redecorate it” can be just as much of a sanity-saver as it can with larger construction projects.

Nowadays, a few interior designers do use basic CAD or Sketchup to model the rooms they’re working on.  But in my experience, they are the exceptions.   The majority really aren’t up to speed on 3D modeling and rendering techniques and so can’t offer this as a service to their clients.  Luckily there are home visualization services (like CastleView 3D, for one) who can work with you BEFORE you consult an interior designer, so that you already have some good options to share with your designer going in.  We can also work hand in hand with your decorator or interior designer, translating their ideas into 3D renderings so you can see how their plan of colors, fabrics, and finishes will look in your own rooms.  Or maybe you just want to explore different decorating ideas, trying different fabric swatches and color combinations in a room to decide which you like best.

As an example of how this can work, here are some renderings I did for someone who was considering painting and redecorating his kitchen.  He didn’t want a big remodel of the space — that had already been done a few years earlier — but simply a different look and feel to the room.  He had some ideas, but wasn’t sure how they would work in his space.  So CastleView 3D provided several different possibilities for consideration, combining various aspects of his preferred colors and decor ideas.  The images below show a rough floorplan of the kitchen, the current decor (light green walls and green laminate countertop), and three decor options using a more earth-toned color palette:  one French country style, one cottage (or “rustic cabin”) style, and the third capturing the Craftsman look prevalent in the rest of his home.

Image of a kitchen floorplan to be used for 3D modeling and rendering

Kitchen floorplan

3D Rendering of current kitchen decor

Rendering of current kitchen decor

Kitchen rendering -- French country style decor

Kitchen rendering — French country style decor

Kitchen rendering -- cottage style decor

Kitchen rendering — cottage style decor

Kitchen rendering -- Craftsman style decor

Kitchen rendering — Craftsman style decor

If you’re working with an interior designer — or even if you’re doing your own decorating — you’re already investing in the beauty of your living spaces.  Doesn’t it make sense to take advantage of 3D modeling and rendering capabilities to make sure you will actually love the finished product?


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A career in 3D — it’s not all glitz and glamour

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Skyscraper rendering by Stanley Tang

A career in 3D modeling and rendering — sounds very exciting and cutting-edge, doesn’t it?  Movie premieres of the latest 3D films, gaming conventions, consultations with leading architects on their newest skyscraper or high-end real estate development.  How thrilling!

But trust me, that’s far from reality — at least MY reality.  Although this occupation certainly has its moments of excitement, it’s actually pretty nerdy and requires a high tolerance for sitting at a computer and working by yourself most of the time.

And it doesn’t lend itself to a jet-set lifestyle, either, in terms of time OR  income.  At least in the beginning, you end up doing pretty much any job that knocks on your virtual door, just to be able to make some money.

I was lucky:  early in my rendering career (way back in 2007) I landed a dream job — clients who wanted to pay me a handsome sum to create a complete “as-built” (i.e., an exact detailed model of an existing structure) of a gorgeous multimillion-dollar house they were buying, which they would then use for remodeling and redecorating the home.  And I accepted, because I was too green to realize that it was way beyond my skill level at the time.  Luckily my 3D mentor, Kay Nordby, was willing to help with some of the trickier bits.  I completed the job, the clients were very pleased, and I learned a lot and cemented a lasting virtual friendship.  More on that big job — including further developments — another time.

So far I haven’t done any other project that has been on the same scale as that one, and certainly nothing so grand as a skyscraper.  One recent job was really the antithesis of glamour — a quick rendering of a bunch of self-storage units for a developer, something he could take to the town for permit approval.

Decidedly non-glamorous rendering of self-storage buildings

Decidedly non-glamorous rendering of self-storage buildings

But no matter whether it’s the big cool challenging jobs or the quick moneymakers, I’m happy with my second career in 3D modeling and rendering:

  • It allows me to combine my artistic and technical skills with my love of architecture and interior design.
  • It’s always full of new challenges, new design problems to solve, and new rendering techniques to practice and perfect.
  • It allows me to be my own boss and run my business the way I want to.
  • I can work in my jammies and bunny slippers if I want (not that I would ever do that, of course — I don’t even OWN bunny slippers.  But you get the idea).
  • People pay me to do something I really enjoy and am passionate about.
  • It provides daily opportunities to be helpful to other people by using my skills to translate their 2D ideas and plans into 3D images — and sometimes into gloriously detailed photorealistic 3D images, if that’s appropriate for their needs.

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Reasons for NOT using 3D images for your building or remodeling project

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What are some reasons for NOT using 3D images for your project? 

There aren’t any. 

You might think cost could be a reason.  If so, then either:

  1. You haven’t fully understood the value of 3Ds, and/or
  2. You haven’t found the right professional to create them for you.

For help with #1, read How to estimate the value of 3D visualization, A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words, Deep thoughts on 3D Biz, or 3D Rendering with Chief Architect.  These posts from seasoned 3D designers and artists should make the cost to value ratio abundantly clear.

For help with #2, contact me at CastleView 3D, and if I’m not the right person for your project, I can refer you to one of the other professionals I know.

Other “reasons”:

  • Time:  See #1 above.
  • Scope:  See #1 and 2 above.
  • “I wouldn’t know who to ask or how to get started”:  See my answer to #2 above.
  • “My architect/builder/designer doesn’t do 3Ds”:  See my answer to #2 above.  There are many 3D design and rendering specialists who can work hand-in-hand with your current architect or builder, or we can work directly with you on images that you can use to improve communication with your builder.
  • “I’m not exactly sure what I want yet”:  See #2 above.  Some 3D professionals specialize in creating concept images to help you choose the features and design elements that are most important to you.

So you can see that there really are no valid reasons not to utilize 3D renderings and raytraces for your building, remodeling, or decorating project, unless you’re the type of person who enjoys big — and possibly unpleasant — surprises.

3D images are a valuable asset for improving communication, ultimately saving you time, money, AND sleepless nights!

3D Kitchen Rendering by CastleView3D.com

Kitchen Remodel -- Design by Louie Carter of Grayson Homes; 3D rendering by CastleView 3D


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The ’80s called — they want their bathroom back!

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I recently got a call from a friend.  He and his wife are planning to put their house on the market soon, and are sprucing it up to get it ready to sell.  It’s a beautiful, unique builder’s home, situated high on a hill with an incredible view.  But the home was built in the 1980s, and some features have never been updated.

Their concern right now is the master bath.  It’s a lovely space with skylights, lots of mirrors, and a garden tub.  It has “good bones.”  But the cabinets and countertop are mauve-colored laminate.

In case you don’t know what “mauve” is (and trust me, you are not the only one), consider this definition from Wikipedia:  “Mauve (rhymes with “stove”) is a pale lavender-lilac color, one of many in the range of purples.  Mauve is more grey and more blue than a pale tint of magenta would be… Sometimes mauve can be considered a dirty pink or a shade of purple.  Mauve can also be described as pale violet.”

Well thanks, Wikipedia — that really clears things up.

1980s Mauve Laminate BathroomI think “grayish pink” actually comes closest in this case.  Mauve was a very popular color for decorating in the 1980s, particularly in business offices and dentist’s waiting rooms, and especially when combined with gray or teal.  (Did I mention that this bathroom has a gray tub and sinks?)  When my friends first bought the house, the same charming mauve laminate was also on all the kitchen cabinets and the dining room built-ins!  Mauve overload!  Luckily all of that was replaced early on.

My friends want to bring their bathroom into this millenium, but without spending a lot of money on it — just enough to make the bath a selling feature rather than a liability.  So they asked for my assistance in envisioning what a coat of paint over the laminate, a new solid surface countertop with vessel sinks, and new carpeting could do for the space.  CastleView 3D to the rescue!

After measuring the space and taking photos, I created a 3D model of their bath using Chief Architect.  I added the vessel sinks and Corian countertop they wanted, “painted” the mauve laminate cabinets a neutral shade of ivory, and put in a new carpet.  The raytraced images below show how much these small changes will improve and enhance their bath.  Goodbye, mauve!

3D Rendering of Bathroom Remodel by CastleView 3D

3D Rendering of Bathroom Remodel by CastleView 3D

3D Bathroom Rendering by CastleView3D.com

3D Rendering of Bathroom Remodel by CastleView 3D


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Learning 3D modeling by copying the “old masters”

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When I was first learning to do 3D modeling and rendering back in 2007, I decided to try an exercise that many art students are given in their studies:  learning by copying the old masters.  With sketchbooks and pencils in hand, students visit the world’s great art museums to learn about an artist’s technique by trying to duplicate it themselves.

For my learning exercise, I decided that my “old masters” would be architectural and interior designers whose work I admired.  So I gathered a collection of photos from the web, many from Architectural Digest (which is, in my opinion, the best place to see consistently fine examples of both interior and exterior design).  I set myself the task of trying to learn something about their design techniques, as well as mastering my own modeling and rendering software tools, by trying to reproduce the photos as 3D renderings. I feel this approach really taught me a lot, and I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to improve their 3D skills.

Now that I’ve been at this for almost 4 years, I still occasionally do this exercise, simply because it provides an excellent insight into a designer’s mind to try to understand why they did things the way they did in the building or room I’m studying.

Room designed by Suzanne Lovell

Room designed by interior designer Suzanne Lovell (photo from an article in Sept. 2007 Architectural Digest)

Recently, instead of tackling a new challenge, I decided to revisit one of my old favorite inspirations, a lovely room created by awesomely talented interior designer Suzanne Lovell in her own townhouse in Chicago.  Her home was written up in a 2007 article in AD (which unfortunately is no longer available online).

I liked my original rendering so much that I had been using it for years in my portfolio on the CastleView 3D website, despite the fact that it was a very early example and wasn’t actually produced for a real client.  But because the rendering software I use now (Kerkythea) is much more sophisticated than what I was using in 2007, I wanted to see how much the image could be improved simply by using the new tool.

I didn’t change my original model except to import it into Chief Architect X3 (to enable VRML export), but instead spent time tweaking the lighting and textures in the imported file within Kerkythea.  Below is a comparison of my original image with the most recent one (you’ll need to click to enlarge the images for a decent comparison).  You can see that in the 2007 version, the render engine wasn’t able to produce reflections, or even shadows!

2011 3D Rendering by CastleView3D.com of room designed by Suzanne Lovell

My recent update (April 2011), using the same model but re-rendered in Kerkythea

2007 3D Rendering by CastleView3D.com of room designed by Suzanne Lovell

My original 2007 rendering, modeled and rendered in Home Designer Pro

Of course I’m much happier with the more recent version, although as I look at the final product there are still things I would like to change in my addictive quest for photorealistic perfection.

Perhaps I’ll work on improving some of my original modeling, and post an update later. But in the meantime, this new image is definitely replacing the old one on my website!


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