We still have a ways to go and will need to discuss feasibility of the layout with the builders. But for now, and for our business plan purposes, I just had to know what was possible. A very important thing as you can imagine, knowing just how much stock you'll expect to fit and so on, so that I could come up with a sense of inventory costs for business planning purposes.
Well, intrepid that I am when it comes to playing about with new software, I scouted high and low online for 3D CAD software. I've had a bit of experience before with Vectorworks in the past, but was not going to pretend I was an expert and design our store from scratch by myself. As I mentioned, I just wanted to get a sense of how we could possibly use the space, how many book bays could go in, and by extension, how many books we could stock.
So after quite a few trials and errors, I ended up using the freebie software SweetHome3D. Not too bad. You have to be very patient though as you may need to download various 3D models from other sites and import them. This is because the pre-existing library is really basic. And then there's tweaking for dimensions - depth, height, width etc. Plus the rendering isn't photo realistic and you can't adjust lighting etc. So a couple of obvious drawbacks. On the plus side, it's simple enough for a novice and you don't need extensive experience to use it.
So here I was, struggling with this software and its limitations for a few days, but oh well, the results I think are passable. I ended up with a sketchy idea of how we could use the space and more importantly a floorplan that was at least, to scale for most part.
Will our shop end up looking like the initial draft we came up with? Who knows, probably not. But for now, it's a good starting point before we head to our builders!
Below are some images of what we came up with. Click to view larger and read captions. Share your thoughts with us; we welcome comments! - Fran