is it worth learning Google Sketchup for laying out my kitchen?

lori_inthenw_gwDecember 16, 2011

... or do you have a better idea?

Planning new construction and the footprint and general layout of the kitchen are done. Comparing the space to our existing kitchen, we are confident that the space is adequate and the basics are right. It is not a huge space, though, and I know it is the details of how the pieces fit together that will make it work satisfactorily for us.

And then put the aesthetics factor on top of that, and I realize I need something that allows me to do a lot of experimenting with variations. I'm not afraid to learn new software, but I don't want the software-learning part to take more time than the task itself!

We have an architect, and he's great, but I don't expect him to tell me where I should store the flour or the wine glasses. I like thinking about the details and visualizing moving around the space.

I have looked at some of the Sketchup books and I'm just not sure if the whole thing is overkill for what i'm trying to do or if it is like so much software, where you just use the 10% you need and forget about the rest.

Advice, experience, suggestions, alternatives?

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I give it a mixed review. I used a different program for 2D CAD for layout, and then used Google sketchup for 3D renderings along the lines you are envisioning.

The pluses:
-Certain tasks in sketchup are MUCH more intuitive than on other CAD programs. F'rinstance, creating a 3D object is as easy as pie.
-There is a huge database of premade objects that you just download and plug into your drawing. Many manufacturers upload their wares to make it easy for you to design them in, and lots of amateurs like to show off their creations. For example, Kraftmaid has a lot of their offerings in the database. This can give you a huge leg up on producing a nice-looking drawing.
-The program is quite flexible.
-There are instructional videos from google that make it pretty easy to get started.
-It's free!

The minuses:
-I found certain things that would be trivial to do with almost any conventional CAD program to be very difficult to do with sketchup. Say you want to move a cab over 2.25" to the left. Most programs would have a "move" command. I could not find a way to do this except for to create a guide that was 2.25" away from where the cab was now, then move the cab to that guide. Perhaps there is a better way, but I couldn't find it.
-Occasionally, I absolutely could not place an object in the 3D spot that I was shooting for. (As a 2D representation of 3D space, the program has to guess what depth you are aiming for.) The object kept projecting to a different spot, no matter what I tried. For me, the only solution was to delete the object and start again!
-This is not sketchup's fault, really, but I feel a bit "locked into" my previous efforts. For example, my initial drawings were off a few inches in one dimension. Totally my fault, but the effort it would take to redo this does not seem worth it to me. I would have to subsequently move everything.
-File sizes grow quickly. Mine started small, but have grown to about 40 MB as you add and subtract items. Obviously, this depends on what you download. However, I don't think a kitchen-design-specific program would have this problem.

I think if I had to do it over, I would have chosen a kitchen-design-specific program. I am on a Mac, and that influenced my choice, as there are not many of those available for Mac.

Here is a rendering of my kitchen. You can also see my sketchup "development" at my original layout thread linked below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Challenging Layout Conundrum

    Bookmark   December 16, 2011 at 11:24AM
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Thanks, Angie! I am also on a Mac. I've wondered about using the Ikea kitchen planner. Seemed like it was not Mac-compatible, but now I see it is. I'm not planning to use Ikea cabs, though our cabinetmaker says using the drawer hardware would be fine (he doesn't think highly of the boxes), so I'd at least want to start out trying to use standard sizes.

The 3D option sounds nice, but is it worth the effort? If I could do both plans and elevations easily, I think I am pretty good at imagining the resulting 3D space. 3D would be better for looking into the room from different angles, obviously, but again, I'm worried about the software learning taking more time than building the kitchen!

    Bookmark   December 16, 2011 at 11:48AM
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You can probably google as well as I can, but here are some relevant links:

    Bookmark   December 16, 2011 at 12:47PM
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I tried diligently to use Sketch Up when we were planning. In the end it beat me. I put in a lot of work for marginal results. I'm not computer phobic, I use Photoshop and InDesign regularly without trouble.

In the end we spent time with the HD kitchen guy who, happily, was someone who helped HD design their kitchebn software. We tried out several things with him and got great results. Not only that, but at the end of each design session, we got a dollar figure and cabinet list on what we had going. Bonus: he never fussed about doing it. Once he had in the basic room shape, windows and doors, the rest was pretty much point and click.

If you foresee a future use for Sketch Up, then it's probably worth your time to learn the program. If it's just for this, I'm not so sure.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2011 at 2:34PM
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I think it's totally worth it. I started with the kitchen. Then as I was looking at various angles, I started adding rooms. The next thing I know, I had the entire first floor all measured and drawn. I even went so far as to draw my TV and speakers in the adjacent family room. It was really fun doing 3D walk-throughs if the new kitchen from all directions of the house.

I used a custom cabinetmaker and it was very helpful for them to "see" my vision. I "built" a custom pantry unit in SketchUp and the cabinetmaker recreated it perfectly. The contractor was able to work off my drawings too. The fact that every square inch was accounted for in the drawing allowed us to head off potential problems before they became issues.

Toward the end of the project, we were able to hold up the drawing and see that with the exception of cosmetic finishes it was virtually identical. Really rewarding on all fronts.

We're going to renovate the upstairs bathrooms in the near future and I look forward to designing those too. Having the model already in SketchUp, I can just add to it.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2011 at 3:14PM
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I am so jealous, jscout!

    Bookmark   December 16, 2011 at 8:39PM
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I find the IKEA home planner has an almost zero learning curve. It's great for giving you a rough idea of what things will look like in 3D.

Sketchup was too much for me, but it does provide nicer 3D graphics :-)

    Bookmark   September 23, 2014 at 9:14PM
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Having a hammer and the ability to swing it does not make one a carpenter. Having software and the ability to use it does not make one a kitchen designer.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2014 at 11:04PM
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My kitchen remodeling was going nowhere until I bit the bullet and learned sketchup (at least for the 2d). I never got to 3d but 2d was enough. I must have had 500 tries or more before I got what I wanted.

Learning sketchup doesn't make a kitchen designer but I think learning sketchup with a whole lot of persistence and repetitve tries at cabinet placement, etc. plus knowledge and tips from gardenweb does make a kitchen design, at least in my case.

I tried a couple of designers but guess I was too much of a control freak (I felt they wanted to do it their way instead of work with me on what I wanted) and guess I was too worried about money. Neither of them wanted Ikea and I knew price-wise plus design wise, ikea was what i wanted.

Though because I've done it myself, I'm in the 80/20 predicament with 80% finished and 20% to go (I got sick and can't seem to get back to it) and having make a fairly large mistake with my kitchen hood. But still overall, I'm glad I've done it myself. Mistakes have been all fixable. Though with a KD and GC, I'm sure I would be finished by now. (But wouldn't have gotten the great idea of a textured glass backsplash that has recently been posted in this forum - I LOVE that idea.)

Good luck.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2014 at 11:20PM
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I'd absolutely recommend it. Making a model and revising it 80 times easily helped us figure out what we wanted to do as well as give an idea of what was viewable and from where.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2014 at 7:28AM
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