Check out these free design software options so you can build your child their own playhouse and give the gift of active play. See loads of screenshots and be inspired to design your child's clubhouse, treehouse, cubby, castle, or pirate playship where they can enjoy their own magical space to freely express themselves and have fun.
Active play is so important for a child’s development especially in today’s world where gadgets and mobile games have usurped children’s unstructured physical play. Playhouses, no matter the design, serve as important tools for children to become sound adults.
Building their own playhouses allow children to become creative, inventive, and imaginative. Playing in it provides them a safe sanctuary where they can hide away from adults and learn to become one. It also offers a win-win situation for parents.
It’s more convenient to build a playhouse for your child and not have to worry about the structure’s durability or how it can mar your pristine garden. If you want to save money and have some know-how, these free playhouse software design tools will come handy in building the perfect playhouse.
Table of Contents
1. CedarWorks Playhouse Design Tool
CedarWorks is an American company that designs and manufactures eco-friendly products that promote children’s active play from kid’s playbeds to indoor playsets and toys to playhouses. Their products are solidly constructed from unstained northern white cedar wood so it’s splint-free and available in large dimensions.
CedarWorks products can only be purchased online so the customers install the playsets by themselves. Their website offers a free online design program as well as design tool videos to help you design a playhouse or any of their product lines such as a Frolic playset, a Serendipity or Indoor playset or a playbed.
To start designing the playhouse, simply select the right option from its set of product lines. You will then be taken to the design page and be asked to choose among Classic or Modern styles and 1-story or 2-story Classic or Modern style. Once you have made your selection, the page will take you to your style and story selection. You will be asked to add windows, swings, a bridge, accessories, and color trim.
To do so, you just click or tap the design option found at the left side of the screen. Then tap the front, right, back, or left structure of the playhouse where you want the selection to be added. You can easily remove a selection just by clicking it and then tapping the Remove option at the bottom of the screen.
CedarWorks will ask for your email address should you wish to save and retrieve your design. With the simplistic structure and very limited design options, you get the feeling that all CedarWorks is shooting for here is to get a hold of people’s email addresses.
- It’s a free web-based design tool.
- Click and tap method.
- You can choose between a Classic or Modern style playhouse and between a 1-story or 2-story Classic or Modern playhouse.
- It’s for free so you can design all you want.
- It’s simple and easy to use.
- Very limited design options.
- You can’t be creative because you can only work with the few options available.
Click here for CedarWorks Playhouse Design Tool
2. PopUp Play Build Lab
PopUp Play is an innovative business model that enables its design platform to transform into a physical reality. The startup company encourages children to take advantage of their screen time by tapping into their creativity to create their own playhouse.
Kids as young as three years old can create their own playhouse models which the company will manufacture and deliver to their doorstep within just a week from the date of order. The playhouse design options are a castle and a gingerbread house design that come in uncolored printed on white 1/4″ fiberboard so kids can have fun coloring it in real life with paints, markers, or crayons. They can even decorate with stickers, cotton balls, pipe cleaners, just about anything their imagination takes them.
The material is lightweight, non-toxic, durable, recyclable, and easy to store. The castle playhouse model stands 4.5 feet tall with 4 feet by 4 feet footprint. You can start building your own playhouse by downloading the free iOS app or through its website. You can purchase your custom playhouse for $99 plus $10 shipping fee.
- Suitable for young kids.
- Design a gingerbread house or a castle.
- Personalize by adding names or creating scenes on the walls of the structure.
- Web-based option.
- App is available for free on iOS.
- It’s fun and easy to use.
- The designing process doesn’t cost a thing.
- The designs are limited and too simplistic.
- Not designed for adults.
- Not yet available for Android.
Click here for PopUp Play
Tinkercad is a powerful user-friendly online 3D design and 3D printing tool that’s suitable for users across all skill levels. You don’t need to have a design experience in order to fully take advantage of it. With plenty of helpful tutorials and resources plus easy to use tools, you can skip the learning curve and get the hang of it in no time.
When you’re finally comfortable tinkering the software, resizing forms, and playing with shapes, you’ll soon find yourself advancing to complex 3D models. Tinkercad allows you to input accurate dimensions and experiment with various shapes by stretching and stacking.
- Free web-based online design tool for 3D solid modeling tools.
- Editing 3D basics such as parametric editing tools, free-form editing tools, symmetric editing, etc.
- 3D rendering tools
- Drawing tools
- Text-editing tools
- Compatible with both Windows OS and Mac OS.
- Intuitive, simple and easy to use.
- Plenty of helpful tutorial videos, predefined templates, and tips from other community designers.
- You can use it for free.
- Saves 3D designs on the cloud.
- Allows you to create a project and see things from the page view and make changes easily.
- Allows you to print your designs with your own 3D printer and hardware.
- Allows you to import external 3D files
- Not suitable for mobile or tablet use.
- Cannot be used offline.
- Limited to geometric forms and can’t draw freeform shapes.
- Can be difficult to follow dimensions.
Click here for Tinkercad
SketchUp is a 3D modeling software used for various drawing applications such as interior design, architecture, civil and mechanical engineering, film, and video game design. It allows you to build almost anything from scratch and be as meticulous as possible. The free software is called SketchUp Make and can be downloaded from the website. The paid version is called SketchUp Pro and is used by many professional architects.
Unlike many design software, users in SketchUp start with working in 3D. Another difference with SketchUp is it allows you to build everything and anything from scratch. This means there’s plenty of room for you to get wild and creative as you customize and add details. On the other hand, this can also mean that working with SketchUp can be complex.
Its user interface may be daunting at first but it’s actually pretty simple. The most commonly used tool is the pencil tool and push and pull tools. So the technique is mostly drawing then push and pull. That’s how most of the 3D models are created. This makes it easy to learn even for those with no CAD backgrounds. Within an hour, you’ll find yourself creating shapes and house models.
With SketchUp, you start off by drawing an arbitrary rectangle. You push and pull, input the desired dimensions and create a floorboard.
To backtrack a little, working with SketchUp can be complex but that’s because it allows you to create a 3D replica of the real thing. It’s no wonder professional architects use this software.
- 2D models
- 3D models
- Its 3D Warehouse library of free 3D models is the world’s biggest
- Lighting effects
- Layer manager
- Add model view, drawing scales, line weights, dimensions, callouts, and graphics
- Precise dimensions
- Export to PDFs, images and CAD files
- Autosave and manually save in Sketchup format
- Import JPEGs, CAD plans, PDFs and other file types
- Works under Windows and MAC OS
- Available in 10 languages
- Has a free version
- Smart and intuitive software
- You can build and create anything with it
- Lets you add complex details
- A vast library of free 3D models as well as aesthetic design options
- Plenty of video tutorials
- Tablet version for androids and iPhones
- The free version doesn’t allow import of files
- Only the paid version allows export of files
- Shareable only within the 3D Warehouse
- A tendency to stop responding when the file becomes too heavy
Click here for SketchUp
5. Sweet Home 3D
Sweet Home 3D is a totally free software which you may download straight from its website or use online. There’s a donation link on the website but users are not obliged to pay and the only time you have to create an account with them is when you want to save your online creation.
First off, the controls can be a bit complex and the navigation tools not as intuitive as other design software. It would help if the tools are labeled clearly and indicate their functions but then working with Sweet Home 3D is almost like working with programs such as PowerPoint. After about an hour or so of tinkering, you’d find it’s pretty easy to get to grips with. It’s mostly a click and drag method, there are helpful pop-ups that offer useful tips and it’s easy to get a sense of what you’re doing with the split mode view.
To start the floor plan, click and drag with the desired dimensions. Then click on the create walls button, click to start of the wall and double-click at the end of the wall. Same goes for the floor.
To add the door, go to the Doors and Windows library and click and drag to the floor plan with your chosen door type. It’s almost the same process with everything else.
As a free software, it has plenty of features and functionalities. You can import your own blueprint and images and add to its already vast library. And the coolest thing about it is you can customize the walls, floors, roofs and furniture pieces for a more true-to-life feel.
- Free software which may be downloaded or used online via a Java-supported browser
- Work on a split mode
- Set precise measurements
- Extensive and searchable catalog of objects and design preferences (color, size, thickness, etc.) organized by categories
- Automatic 3D rendering
- Custom light settings for photorealistic images and videos
- Allows import of home blueprints. Supports formats BMP, GIF, JPG and PNG
- Print and export data, images, videos and 3D files to various standard file formats
- Allows additional Java plugins
- Create a video walkthrough of the result and share it on Facebook
- Sunlight function to show how the room/house will look at a particular time of the day or night
- Runs under Windows, Mac OS X 10.4 to 10.13, Linux and Solaris
- Available in English, French and 23 other languages
- Vast selection for design preferences
- Easy to use with click and drag method
- Helpful pop-ups that provide useful tips
- No app version
- Navigation tools is not intuitive
- The free downloaded software doesn’t have built-in features for sharing on social media
- Limited choices for furniture and types of doors and windows
Click here for Sweet Home 3D
6. DreamPlan Home Design Software
DreamPlan Home Design software is a paid software, but it offers a free version for non-commercial use only. There’s a separate version for Mac OS and Windows OS. The software can be downloaded from its website.
It has plenty of intuitive design features that make the software straightforward and easy to use. Tools are organized by category and displayed as one of the tabs. Each tab has an Options button to customize dimensions. There’s also the Tip Bar at the bottom of the screen which provides helpful advice on how to use a selected tool.
Control tabs and features are found at the top, bottom, and sides of the screen. Instead of editing in the 2D view, the software lets the user create on the 3D view with grid lines over what’s supposed to be the lawn area of your project.
Building the project is as simple as choosing the feature tab and dragging to the desired location. Following the tip bar’s suggestions will also be very helpful.
- Switch between 3D, 2D, and blueprint view modes
- Easily design floor plans for your new home
- Easy-to-use interface for simple house design creation and customization
- Use trace mode to import existing floor plans
- Plant trees and gardens
- Build the terrain of outdoor landscaping areas
- Visualize your new outdoor swimming pool design
- Download additional content to spruce up your outdoor living space
- Include every detail in your kitchen design
- Explore bathroom design ideas prior to building
- Plan home decor with 3D furniture, fixtures, appliances, and other decorations
- Lay out and design your unfinished basement
- Create walls, multiple stories, decks, and roofs
- Try colors and textures before you commit
- Transform existing rooms
- DreamPlan Home Design Software for home use costs $24.99 while its commercial version costs $29.99
- Operates on both Windows OS and Mac
- Easy to use
- Tip bar for faster navigation
- Can edit in 3D view
- Plenty of tutorial videos
- Eliminates the learning curve for new users
- Has only one sample house plan available
- Has only 65 object selections and six plants
- Can’t import objects from third-party sites
Click here for DreamPlan Home Design Software
7. Custom Log Home Design Tool
Custom Log Home Design Tool, also known as Southland’s DesignWorks™, is a free online software from Southland Log Homes. The company designs and manufactures log homes aside from offering the free design tool in order to provide free quotation of the desired log home.
In order to use the design tool, the user is required to create an account with them for free. This will provide access to hundreds of plans, use of custom design tool, pricing estimator, downloadable design album, a schedule for design consultation at no cost and notification of new designs/special offers.
The software has no tutorial or demo video but it’s unnecessary since it’s just a matter of clicking and dragging, moving the walls and inserting doors and windows.
- Free online software
- Has pre-built customizable log home design plans
- Personalized quote of the dream log home
- Easy to use
- Could use 3D rendering
Click here for Custom Log Home Design Tool
8. K3-Cottage Log House Design Software
K3-Cottage Log House Design Software is a paid Russian CAD/CAM software intended for log house designers and architects. It’s intended for professional use so the designer looks intimidating and complex especially for someone without a CAD background.
It offers a free trial version for 14 days with instructions on the website on how to avail of the free trial.
In order to purchase the software outside Moscow, payment is sent via international money transfer with free shipping anywhere in the world. The package includes one year of free updates to new versions. Beyond that, the user will have to pay 12% of the cost of the software.
- Detailed 3D model
- Russian and English interface
- Automatically generates full documentation for Manufacture and Assemblage. Documentation includes specification sheet, floor plans, elevations, cross sections, developed views, and detailed drawings
- 30 types of reports and drawings
- More than 10 types of log joints
- Adjust dimensions
- K-3 Cottage 7.4 Full Commercial Package costs € 2850. It includes the design of log/timber houses and structures, log cutting optimization module and archiCAD import/export module.
- Another option is a monthly subscription for € 100. It includes the same features as the Full Commercial Package and requires an internet connection.
- Runs on Windows OS
- User-friendly interface for those with CAD background
- Realistic 3D rendering
- Need CAD background to appreciate the designer tool
Click here for K3-Cottage Log House Design Software
9. Visual Building Premium
Visual Building Premium is a paid CAD design and visualization tool from Visual Building. It’s described as the brand’s top of the range software among its line of products. It’s also the recommended design tool for creating log home designs because the software enables 2D drawings to be exported to other CAD applications.
Users can take advantage of a free trial version by registering an account with them and following the download instructions on the website.
The software is intended both for DIYers and professionals so having a CAD experience will be helpful but not necessary. You can go through its massive list of video tutorials and instructional manuals which are really helpful for getting you started. It won’t get you up to speed, though, since getting familiar and comfortable with the interface will most likely take up your time.
- Professional plans
- 3D render and modeling tools
- 3D/2D cross Section/Elevation Views
- Import and export 2D DXF/DWG drawings
- Costs £150
- Runs on Windows; will run on Mac using Bootcamp or Parallels running Windows 7 or higher
- Plenty of video tutorials and instructional manual
- Great 3D models
- Takes time to learn
Click here for Visual Building Premium
10. Home Designer Suite
Home Designer Suite is a middle-of-the-line of the many software products by Chief Architect. It updates with a new version each year and can be downloaded from the website.
As a 3D home design software for DIY home enthusiasts, it tries to replicate the processes and considerations taken by professionals when it comes to home planning. When done right, the result can be comparable to a professional work. Although it should be great news for the novice and simple DIYers with no CAD backgrounds, this also comes with its own downsides.
Getting to grips with the tools, buttons, and controls take time. Don’t expect to master the program overnight and certainly not in an hour.
Once you’re already starting your project, the program won’t allow you to just go on a roll and create right away. To start with a new plan, you’ll first have to deal with the House Builder Wizard which would ask you numerous questions about important details such as the style of the house, minimum square footage, framing defaults, exterior siding, etc. This software certainly demands patience to be a virtue.
The difference with Home Designer Suite from other design software is it doesn’t start with a drawing or a sketch but with a wall that’s built one at a time.
- 2D and 3D designs with automatic 3D rendering
- Automated tools
- Built-in style templates and 6,000+ library items
- Extensive landscaping tools
- Cost estimator
- Virtual 3D tour
- 3D viewer app
- Rotate symbols in 3D
- Home Designer Suite 2019 costs USD $99 with a 30-day refund warranty
- Compatible with MAC and PC
- Save designs to the Cloud
- Sophisticated features
- Professional-quality CAD tools
- Amount of tools can be overwhelming
- Entails a learning curve
- Limited to only one computer at a time
Click here for Home Designer Suite