These websites make renovating a cinch!

Sick of fabric swatches that clutter up the lounge room and sample tiles Blu-Tacked onto bathroom walls? Home renovators and DIY interior designers are discovering a virtual world of inspirational and interactive software with tools to move furniture, hang blinds or trial a new feature wall, all without lifting a paintbrush.

Here's where to find fresh ideas for interiors, without leaving the house.

Google Sketchup

This free modelling program draws and builds interiors, transforming 2D shapes into 3D rooms using a simple ''push-pull'' tool. It allows you to import sample furnishings, choose colours and textures and knock out walls as you please. It's also used by industry. The director of Madison Design Group and a Sydney Design School lecturer, Samantha Cahill, says: ''It's easy to use and great for clients because you're able to drop your 2D [computer-aided design] drawings into the program and turn them into 3D models.'' See www.sketchup.google.com

Dreamdraper

This simple site allows you to create a room, draw in existing windows and add new curtains or blinds. You can calculate lengths and select from an extensive swatch library, which includes rods and rails. You can also import furniture from online catalogues and sketch in new soft furnishings over an existing photograph. Perfect for experimenting with new colours and designs. See www.dreamdraper.com

Pinterest

Sydney design consultant Fiona Goss sends her students from the Design Centre Enmore to this interactive online pinboard for ideas. Pinboard themes include lights, lofts, outdoor spaces, dream furniture and homewares. Collate your ideas portfolio, create a virtual mood board or get bright ideas from others. ''People are adding things all the time, so it's always changing and growing,'' Goss says. See www.pinterest.com

Ikea Hackers

Handy with an Allen key? This site celebrates guerilla designers who resurface, repaint and remodel Ikea products. There's plenty of inspiration for tight spaces, too, from converted glass sliding doors to ''dress boys'' made from timber chairs sawn in half. ''A french cleat under the remaining piece of the seat holds the chairs to the walls,'' writes the anonymous DIY hacker. ''Our bedroom is tightly spaced and we needed a place for clothes in between wearing and ready for laundry.'' See www.ikeahackers.net

Mydeco

Perfect for wannabe interior designers, this site allows you to design a 3D room, add furniture from a database of 3 million products, then enter it in competition with the rest of the online community. The sample 3D rooms are a great place to go for space solutions and new ways with colour. You can also shop directly from the room designs. See www.mydeco.com

Floor Planner

Like moving things around? Want to design your dream house or see if a swimming pool will fit in the backyard? This is a serious website for creating professional floor plans. It's a fun way to rearrange your living room, too. Use drag-and-drop tools to create a floor plan, then insert doors, halls, stairs and the kitchen sink. Rotate rugs, move bookcases and shift sofas. You can even move trees, extend the driveway or shift the whole house back a few metres. See www.floorplanner.com

3Dream

This site uses video-game technology to create lifelike interiors that can be saved, printed or emailed. Draw your floor plan, then add windows, doors and furniture. Choose flooring, rugs, lights, art and furniture from more than 7500 models. Upload your own real-life fabric swatches directly to the site or get inspiration from pre-designed bedrooms, offices, living rooms and outdoor areas. See www.3dream.net

Selector Australia

This is a searchable directory of hot new products and where to find them - from the latest limited-edition Rosenthal Studio-line vases to the places to buy energy-efficient rolled titanium zinc. Endorsed by the Australian Institute of Architects, Selector is a one-stop shop for new products and those that are showcased in leading design publications such as Houses, Kitchens+Bathrooms and Architecture Australia. See www.selector.com/au

Source: The Age (written by Erin O’Dwyer)