Party transport early warning system

Car pulls up outside our house.
What’s going on outside my front door, you ask? Well, let me show you. Ah! Right on time: here’s the party transport.

Reuben and Joshua were invited to a party taking place in Leven this morning. Our friend Helen offered to drive them there in her small bus; what her seven children teasingly refer to as ‘the loser cruiser’.

Remarkably I managed to get both boys dressed (with jumpers and shoes) in 25 minutes (could that be a record?), the birthday present was wrapped and the card was written. All we had to do now was wait.

I found myself thinking: if only there was a way that allowed me to see what was going on outside while still sitting comfortably at my study desk.

Wait a minute! I’ve got a webcam that might just… wait… it does! It stretches from my desk over to the window.

Perfect: an instant party transport early warning system.

Planning Study 2.1

Back in April 2010 (was it really that long ago?) I wrote a post called Planning Study 2.0 showing how I was using a free online application called Floorplanner to work out whether it was feasible to move my study  from the former garage upstairs into bedroom four.

Then we discovered that we were expecting Isaac and those plans were put on hold. Bedroom four was to become Isaac’s room and my study would need to remain in the “garage room”.

Fast forward a couple of years and it became clear to us that Isaac was going to need a larger room. So Jane and I dusted down our plans and we decided to sacrifice the guest bedroom to move Isaac into, then the study would move into Isaac’s old room, and finally the garage room would become a second living room/lounge with the option of a sofa bed or inflatable double-mattress on the floor.

Initial plan — study 2.0

This was my initial plan from April 2010.

Proposed floor plan of relocated study
Initial floor plan of relocated study

Revised plan — study 2.1

My revised plan of Summer 2012, rotated 90° right.

Plan of study
Final plan

And so during the last couple of months we’ve slowly moved things around. Isaac moved rooms first of all, and then the study steadily moved upstairs. Bookcases and books first, then the filing cabinet and Ikea Poäng chair, and finally my desk (which I had to completely dismantle to get out through the former garage’s sliding door and back in through the front door).

So, here are the 3D renderings from Floorplan to compare with photographs of how the actual room looks.

Looking south

Floor plan of study shown in 3D
Floor plan of study shown in 3D (looking south)
My study, showing from left to right: filing cabinet, desk and bookcase
My study, showing from left to right: filing cabinet, desk and bookcase

Looking west

Plan of study, shown in 3D
Floor plan of study shown in 3D (looking west)
My study, looking towards the window, with chair and bookcases
My study, looking towards the window, with chair and bookcases

Conclusion

Floorplanner has been a really useful tool. As I said in my initial review, the free account is limited to only one plan (although you can join rooms together to create, for example, a whole floor) but that has been enough for our requirements.

We are now beginning to use it to plan what to do with the old study (the “garage room”). How can we fit in a sofa or two, and still make it comfortable for guests to sleep in? I’ll report back once we’ve worked it out.

Planning Study 2.0

Proposed floor plan of relocated study
Proposed floor plan of relocated study

This evening I’ve been using Floorplanner.com to see whether it’s feasible or not to move my study from what used to be the garage to what is currently the fourth bedroom (affectionately known as ‘the bunk room’).

Jane and I have been thinking ahead to when the boys are a little older and wanting to sleep in the bunk beds; we’d also like to do something a little more creative with the former garage, turning it into another ground floor public room (TV room? play room?).

Plenty of room for

I’ve managed to squeeze in:

  • 1 x planners desk and chair
  • 1 x small bookcase for my printers and scanner
  • 1 x Ikea Poäng chair
  • 1 x four-drawer filing cabinet
  • 6 x book cases

No room for

But I’m still puzzling what to do with:

  • 1 x cupboard full of filing boxes, Big Boy’s Box of Interesting Things™, etc.
  • 1 x PC and CRT monitor
  • 1 x Prie-dieu (prayer desk)
  • 1 x bookcase of guitar music
  • 4 x guitar amplifiers
  • 8 x guitars

What’s holding me up from moving up immediately is working out how we move the broadband connection upstairs (without the use of WiFi or a PowerLine adapter). I suspect we may to have to get an electrician in to add a telephone extension in the new study and perhaps more electrical sockets.

Proposed floor plan of the relocated study in 3D
Proposed floor plan of the relocated study in 3D

Floorplanner

Floorplanner has been really simple to use. It uses an Adobe Flash interface (so you can’t plan your rooms on an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad), is pretty intuitive.

I followed the short tutorial to get an idea of the basics, loaded it up on my laptop in the room I wanted to plan and got measuring.

Price: Free for personal use (limited to 1 plan). There are also Plus (€19 per year; up to 5 plans) and Pro (from €19 per month; multiple plans and tours) accounts available.

Strengths: It’s really simple to get started: draw rooms, add doors and windows, tweak dimensions, preview it in 3D. There is quite a large library of objects, furniture, etc. You’re not locked to one PC as plans are available from any online PC.

Weaknesses: Some of the furniture looks quite generic and unremarkable, although dimensions and general colours can be tweaked. There are no filing cabinets in the office category of objects! I couldn’t find an obvious way to put things on the wall (shelves or pictures). The 3D view can be a little tricky at times: you can’t always see exactly the view you want to see.

Conclusion: It’s a great tool for quickly checking to see if your proposed floor plan is going to work (even if you have to improvise some of the furniture).

It’s really much quicker to learn and cheaper to and use than the likes of TURBOFloorplan 3D from IMSIDesign.

Update

This evening (Friday 16 April) I also discovered Autodesk Homestyler which is another Flash-based floorplanner. I don’t mean ‘discovered’ in the same way as say Ferdinand Magellan discovered how to cross the Pacific without the use of a marine-style lollipop man.

In some ways it was nicer and shinier. In other ways it wasn’t quite so customizable.