Use Your Computer to “Try It Before You Buy It!”

Did you ever have a project in mind, but wished you could see it first?

Lately, I’ve been using my computer to make mock-ups of my project ideas and I have to say, it’s been a HUGE help in decision making!IMG_1241

It’s one thing to have a brainstorm or find inspiration on Houzz or Pinterest…but it’s something entirely different to visualize it in your own house or room.

I’ve written before about paint visualizers and how you can use them to check out color (on nearly anything).

But what about bigger projects, like my overmantel (which IS in progress, btw)?

Let’s use that as an example.

I uploaded my before/room photo and pasted it into a Pages document so it starts out looking like this:


Next, I inserted a screen shot of the inspiration overmantel I found on Houzz.
Using the cropping tool, I edited the part I wanted to “borrow” from the

Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 8.07.18 AMand pasted that onto my original picture, which gave me this:Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 8.35.29 AM

But the inspiration mirror was seven squares wide and mine needed to be 5. So, I duplicated the image; cropped one version to 2 mirrors on the left, cropped the other to 3 mirrors on the right…

Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 8.10.43 AM grouped it as one image, and sized it to fit (which took all of a minute).

Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 8.41.46 AM
Nice…but I have all that wall to fill…my project would need to be taller. so I had to do the same thing as before, but now vertically.

Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 8.13.21 AM

I was able to duplicate the image several times, and crop out what I didn’t need to virtually “build” the project the way I envisioned it, i.e., with a few more rows than the original, and with five squares across instead of six.

Next, I need to see how it would look with trim. I duplicated a picture of my original room and cropped out everything except for the fluted detail on the fireplace…


Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 8.18.17 AMI duplicated that section, pasted it, then stretched it vertically to add the same molding detail on the sides of the mirror. I also did the same thing for the top crown of the overmantel.  And eventually, I had this:

The mock up also helped me decide whether or not to start the mirror right at the mantel, or add a trim piece first (which was my original plan). “Seeing it” on the computer was a great resource…I easily decided to dump out the horizontal base trim piece and just start the mirror right at the mantel.

For someone who doesn’t make decisions easily…that was well worth the time it took! The only remaining decision is whether I will make the mirror six squares high or seven….and for that, I WILL have to see it in person.

I never realized I could use a word processing application that way, but it’s becoming one of the most helpful tools I have!

Right now, I’m also using it to determine how I will make my kitchen window treatment.

Here’s what I’m thinking of…and using the computer helped me decide how many sections to use …3? 5?


It’s a little trickier because I have to build it using shapes, overlay it on a photo of my fabric, then erase the areas I don’t want in the photo.

That last step requires me to import what I’m “building” into another program (I‘m using GraphicConverter), erase the areas I don’t want, then paste it back into Pages.) If you have Photoshop, there might be an easier way to do all of this…but, as usual, I’m working with what I have. I may invest in Photoshop one of these days…but what I have is working for me (and my penny pinch-y-ness).

Sounds like I’m spending too much time on my computer? Maybe. But for this indecisive NON techie, I’m discovering a way to end my project paralysis…which actually saves money by helping me avoid do-overs AND saves time in the end because I can keep moving forward.

Like with the valances:  I liked the simple suzani fabric we picked…but seeing it in  the mockup, I’m rethinking the simplicity of the pattern…from a distance it kind of looks like a daisy print instead of the modern look I was trying to achieve.  I DO like the five section version of the valance, though.

SO, using the computer is giving me some decision-making confidence!

As a bonus, I can also play around with other ideas not even on the agenda yet…

bathroom makeover anyone?