Whether you custom order a sleek, suede couch or drag in a ratty, plaid one found on Craigslist, planning where to put it can be a pain. Floor Planner can help. This site from Dutch designers enables you to arrange what you have in your own flat or conjure up a dream home.
Add your home's measurements, maybe a background picture, and topic tags to help other users find your plan (or keep it to yourself), and you're ready to drag and drop sofas, plants, tables, countertops, and so on into your rooms. You get one plan for free, just enough to mock up an apartment. Should you become addicted--or need this tool for work--pricing ranges from $29 per year for five projects with the Plus account, up to $1,140 annually for an enterprise business. The animated how-to was pretty helpful for getting started, but I wish it had audio narration. Luckily, the site worked equally well in both IE and Firefox.
You can add textures, such as the grain of a hardwood floor or red velvet couch upholstery. You can even drop in a pinball machine, if it fits (you had to visit the basement of my childhood home to play ours). In addition to figuring out how to squeeze in our furniture, we need tools to help maximize the energy efficiency, available natural light, and indoor air quality where we live--such as a MyAbodo for grownups mixed with power sensors and software, such as Agile Waves's Resource Monitor or the Lucid Group's Building Dashboard.
Floor Planner is fun and easy overall, despite minor irritations, such as the inability to use shortcut keys; for instance, CTRL-Z to undo, or the delete button. Unfortunately, this service sent my username and password in a clear text e-mail.
My entomologist grandfather would use insect pins to map out his next furniture arrangement before moving. I prefer that concrete approach, having a model in hand, to the flat design enabled by a Web page. I'll probably be able to print a model of my home from some tool such as Floor Planner someday, once 3D printers become common appliances. For now, it would be cool if Floor Planner let you print and bend the plans into diorama-ready models, sort of like Paper Critters (also built using Papervision 3D open source software) boxy toys.