How to Remodel a Room in Photoshop

I’m in a real crunch. Literally. Not only is my wallet tight, but so is the space left in our living room. So, I want to do a remodel (insert grandiose dreams of built-in shelves here) but I can’t afford to jump into something that I’ll end up hating.

Yay for Photoshop! I don’t have to spend a dime on my remodel because I can “test drive” everything from paint colors to shelving and décor. All it takes is some basic Photoshop skills, a few Photoshop tricks, and anyone can remodel a room without doing more than use their fingers and creativity.

In this thorough Photoshop tutorial, we’re going to learn how to take a photograph of any room and virtually remodel it.

Remodel a Room in Photoshop Tutorial Details

Program: Adobe Photoshop®™

Version: Illustrations show CS4

Difficulty: Experienced Beginner

Estimated Completion Time: 1 hour

Prerequisites or Requirements: You will need a scanned or imported digital photograph of the room you want to remodel. You should also have a basic understanding of Photoshop tools and where they are located.

Step 1

Open the photo you’ll be remodeling in Photoshop, and then start thinking about a color palette. This will be the most important tool you’ll be using in this tutorial. No matter what you design – or redesign – beginning with a solid color palette will help you save time and stick to an attractive look that speaks volumes in atmosphere.

I was totally inspired by this slideshow on MSN Lifestyle. All of the color schemes shown in the slideshow promote a calm atmosphere, a definite must for my own chaotic home. You can also check out Colour Lovers for a cornucopia of color and pattern inspiration. In other words, do some research and really think about how colors will affect the space you’re remodeling, and start your Photoshop work wasting the least amount of time you can.

For myself, I’ve chosen a color palette that consists of three main colors: #cbc9d7 for a dusty purple-gray to be my focus, # 45271f for a rich chocolate brown that I’ll use as an accent, and # f8f1ea, an off-white eggshell shade that will tie my light and dark colors together. Since I want to keep all my furniture a glossy black, these colors will really pop.

To make things easy, I’ve painted each of my colors on their own layer in my photo so that I can quickly grab the right color when it’s needed.

Step 2

Now that our main colors are picked out, it’s time to start painting. The goal here is to maintain the exact proportions of your existing room, but change the color of each element that is basic to the room (ceiling, wall, floor, and trim).

Grab your square shape tool. Beginning at the ceiling, drag out rectangles that are sized to your existing room structure and show the placement of unmovable objects like windows.

I already know that I want to add things like a nice window trim and a thick floor trim so I’ve gone ahead and added those in (with a hokey little blue to show where the window itself is). Just make sure that when you add extra trim pieces you are lining them up with the actual edges of the walls in your photograph as closely as possible.

Reference the 2nd photo attached to this article to see what I’ve done so far. Notice that I did NOT worry about making everything true to the photograph. Why? Simply to make my life easier – this is a “comp” or a “preview” of what my remodel will look like, not an exact diagram.

Step 3

What we have now is a blank – if colorful – canvas for creativity to stamp all over.

This step is all about making sure that our canvas is just what we want it to be before continuing. Make sure that your colors are as close to what you want as possible. If you plan to add painted elements like a stenciled design at the top trim, for example, paint them in now.

In short, make sure that all your painting is done and that you’re ready to move on to furniture placement and things like window coverings.

I’ve made a few quick changes which you can view in the 3rd photo attached to this article. You’ll notice that I pasted in black wood flooring and created a stencil design just below my ceiling trim in addition to slightly modifying how my floor trim looks and painting in the ceiling beams.

Step 4

Here is where things start getting fun – like, really fun, if you enjoy window shopping. It’s time to pick out the furnishings that will complete our remodeled room and prepare them for placing in our little mock-up.

First, look for window coverings, furniture, and storage pieces that are both suitable to your color scheme and the environment you’re trying to create. Second, try very hard to choose photos that meet your criteria but have an easy-to-remove background (any solid colors are perfect).

If you can’t find pieces on a solid background, then the job of preparing the piece for adding into the mock-up will be a little more difficult. Either way, we’re going to cover both processes.

Process 1 – The Easy Way: For the easy way, you really need a solid or nearly solid background. Also, keep in mind that our mock-up isn’t exactly 3D so we’re looking for as straight-on of a shot as we can get. For example, I’ve decided that a black and white rug would be a great floor accent. I found several rug photos here:

To remove the white background (or any solid background, though products are usually displayed on white), all that I need to do is grab the magic wand tool and click outside the rug. Then, choose “Select” and click “Inverse”. Now, everything but the rug is outside the selection. I can copy-paste the selection into my mock-up and resize it to fit. Repeat with each of your décor pieces.

Process 2 – The Hard Way: When you’re going to be using existing furniture in your remodel or you can’t find solid-background photos, you’ll move right on to the “hard” way … which isn’t that difficult, only a little more time-consuming.

For this method, right-click your Lasso tool and choose the Magnetic Lasso tool. You will want to zoom in close enough that you can really see the edges of your furniture, then make your first click as close to that edge as you can. Now, slowly, start moving your mouse around the shape of the furniture. The lasso will catch the edge colors like a magnet, creating a selection that is tight around your furniture. Just go slow, or you’ll be unpleasantly surprised at some of the selections. Once the selection is made, go ahead and copy-paste it into your mock-up and resize it to fit. Repeat with each of your décor pieces.

TIP: Neither of these methods will result in a perfectly smooth selection. Don’t stress on perfection – this Photoshop remodel is to give us ideas, not to be a photo-perfect match of what we think the final look will be.

Step 5

By now, you should have your virtual remodel done. All that’s left are adjustments. Try modifying the focus color of your wall, for example, and notice how much the simple change affects the atmosphere of your entire mock-up.

Have fun, and when you’ve got your mock-up down to something you just can’t live without, check out Romona Lorelli’s “Seven Tips for Easy Painting” right here on AC. Just remember that the real thing – as with our Photoshop remodel – should be done from ceiling to floor, keeping your real remodel much easier and cleaner.