The new way to imagine your home -Virtual reality for interiors is no longer just a gimmick

The new wave of augmented-reality tech promises to help you decorate with ease

Life Kitchens
Life Kitchens has a 4D virtual-reality theatre in its Waterloo showroom
(Image credit: Life Kitchens)

Reports of a surge in web shopping this year have opened the gate to a more intriguing trend: burgeoning retailer investment in augmented-reality (AR) technology. 

The increase in decorating apps is just one of the most recent examples of how this new technology is being put to work. The apps bridge the 'imagination gap' – solving the problem of evaluating paint choices by projecting them onto walls via a smartphone – to shoppable 'rooms' that reveal how furniture will look in real life. 

In the past, these apps might have felt like a gimmick. However,  today, as we all shop from our sofas, they look essential. virtual reality

(Image credit:

MADE.COM instantly made online shopping more engaging with the virtual, interactive apartment it launched with its AW20 collection. This consisted of four inspiring rooms that 'visitors' could shop as they toured the space, simply by clicking on each piece. 

AR is just as useful for the more practical aspects of decorating. Dulux’s Visualizer app helps you to see how its paints will look with your own décor (cutting the number of sample pots you’ll need to try). While Graham & Brown’s version demonstrates how a wallpaper’s scale and repeat will look once hung. 

'It’s a big step forward from the old swatch method, and if you find something you like you can buy it then and there,' says head of brand Alan Kemp. Tests have shown that people make bolder choices after using the app, he adds, which saw a 62% increase in downloads from March to October 2020.

Dulux Virtual reality

Dulux’s Visualizer app helps you to see how its paints will look with your own décor

(Image credit: Dulux)

AR tech is changing interior design as well as shopping behavior. Life Kitchens has a 4D virtual-reality theatre in its Waterloo showroom, which enables customers to 'jump into their future kitchen' before it’s built. A costly investment suddenly seems much less of a risk. 

Design firm Holland Green explains that 3D modeling of clients’ spaces allows for visualization of a scheme much earlier in the design process; mistakes are eliminated before installation, and money and resources are saved. 'The technology allows clients to collaborate more with designers,' adds co-founder Stephen Green. 'Changing a color scheme is just a click away.'

Life Kitchens Virtual reality

Life Kitchens has a 4D virtual-reality theatre that allows you to explore your kitchen design before investing

(Image credit: Life Kitchens)

Virtual reality Graham & Brown

Graham & Brown’s app helps you to imagine, order and decorate

(Image credit: Graham & Brown)

Anticipating real-life experience is key with virtual property tours, which are taking off thanks to pandemic restrictions. Estate agents use 3D cameras to create these, with prospective buyers opting either to be guided through or to explore themselves. 

Ollie Kilvert, founder of The 360 View, produces tours for major property developers and believes the practice will go mainstream soon. His company started in 2016 when he was selling his own home. After posting a tour online, his pool of buyers expanded dramatically. 

'We eventually sold to a couple from Singapore, who loved all the details they could see – right down to the wood-grain on banisters,' he says. Not just a substitute for the physical, augmented reality is often several steps ahead.

Virtual reality The 360 View

Estate agents use 3D cameras to allow virtual property tours

(Image credit: The 360 View)

Augmented reality might once have felt like a gimmick; today, as we all shop from our sofas, it looks essential.

If you are looking for some key pieces to add to your home today read our feature on 10 designer furniture pieces worth the investment – and where to buy them.

The homes media brand for early adopters, Livingetc shines a spotlight on the now and the next in design, obsessively covering interior trends, color advice, stylish homeware and modern homes. Celebrating the intersection between fashion and interiors. it's the brand that makes and breaks trends and it draws on its network on leading international luminaries to bring you the very best insight and ideas.