high-tech home design

by Amy Gross

Home building and decorating apps for pros and DIYers alike


Morpholio Board

Free; $11.99 Pro Subscription

Morpholio LLC

Available for iOS devices

Wondering how an industrial light fixture would work in your midcentury modern living room? Morpholio Board lets you pull any number of design elements and furnishings into an idea board for instant comparison, and save as many different boards as you like.

When inspiration hits, Morpholio Board is like having a corkboard and push pins right on your phone or tablet. This addictive app lets homeowners and interior designers create “mood boards” using photos of actual furnishings, décor items, tile and flooring choices, and much more, to see how well they work together—or not. Looking for a new look for a dated bathroom? Start by creating a new board and labeling it. Use the Images feature to pull up products from a host of well-known manufacturers and suppliers: Porcelanosa, Design Within Reach, Knoll, and many more. Or, use your phone’s camera to snap a photo of something you’ve run into at a favorite store. Move all of your products onto the board and start playing. Not only can you visually see how certain items work together; you can also get pricing estimates on most products. Though only available for iOS devices, Morpholio features a whole suite of additional options for iPad users.

PROS: Fun to use; items suggested for boarding are “real” products offered by actual retailers, not generic, computer-generated furnishings. All boards can be saved for future reference—handy if you’re working on a new build or whole-house remodel and need to keep track of multiple rooms and spaces. Connects to Pinterest for additional idea saving.

CONS: Takes a while to get the hang of the app, and the video tutorial is largely unhelpful.

BEST FOR: Homeowners and apartment dwellers, and interior designers and decorators.


Home Builder Pro Calcs


Double Dog Studios

Available for iOS devices

Designed for contractors, engineers, and serious DIY homebuilders, Home Builder Pro Calcs performs a host of standard home construction calculations. There are also calculations for computing typical business expenses such as travel and loan costs.

Designed with builders, engineers, architects, and construction project managers in mind, Home Builder Pro Calcs features over 400 home improvement calculations and unit conversions for construction projects of all sizes and complexity. Included are calculators for, among many other things, framing, concrete and paving, excavating, electrical, landscape and yard, wood and materials, work hours estimates, and general business items such as pricing, loans, and travel costs. Inputs and results can be done in either decimals or fractions, U.S. or metric measurements. Once created, calculations can be saved and even emailed to other members of the team or the clients so that everyone is on the same page.

PROS: Easy to use and offers many different calculations.

CONS: Even with a plethora of calculations available, users reviewing the app note that certain calculations are still needed, some of which would appear to be fairly common. If you’re looking for a specific calculation, be sure to read reviews before purchasing.

BEST FOR: DIY homebuilders, as well as professional builders, contractors, engineers, and architects.




Art.com, Inc.

Available for iOS and Android

Ideal for homeowners and apartment dwellers whose walls are blank slates, the Art.com app lets you see over 2 million pieces of art the way it would look in your room, either by itself (above) or as a gallery wall (right).

When it comes to purchasing art, two questions inevitably arise: Will it physically fit in the space in question, and will it fit aesthetically? Art.com, a leading purveyor of wall art, has developed an app that lets you see how a potential art purchase will look in your setting. Using proprietary technology called ArtView ™, you can virtually experience any one of the over 2 million pieces of art sold by Art.com hanging in your home and at scale, and purchase them straight from your phone as well. A function called Gallery Wall Designer allows the user to shuffle and resize multiple pieces of art in a gallery wall setting, after first choosing a design style (midcentury modern or rustic, for example) that best describes your own.

PROS: You can see how different styles of art might look on your wall. The variety of art sold by Art.com is pretty impressive. Once logged in, favorite pieces can be saved and reviewed, and completed “walls” can be saved as well.

CONS: The only art you can actually see is what’s sold on Art.com; you can’t view your own personal art in place on another wall. The “View Room” function is a bit unwieldy and the action must be repeated every time you want to see a piece of art in situ.

BEST FOR: Homeowners and apartment dwellers, interior designers, and business owners.