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Design kits for house builders and remodelers.

If we all could draw, there would be no need for the clever design kits you see pictured above, But the less artistically inclined among us need help in visualizing architectural change. A number of drawing aids from T-squares to tracing templates have been around for a while; here we show some newish products and an old standby One of these may make the perfect gift for a would-be designer. Prepackaged kits ($15 to $40), the commonest design aids, let you arrange scale versions of predrawn furniture, cabinets, appliances, even plants, on a plan set over a reusable grid. One kit provides stickers you can place on a photograph of your house to help you imagine landscaping options. Reusable stickers representing furniture can be two- or three-dimensional versions, depending on whether the kit comes with or without walls. Some packages even help you build a simple model of your project, as shown above right. But be aware that the process is time-consuming and requires a basic ability to read plans and to work precisely. Architectural drawing kits ($17) contain a series of printed 3-D grids. Slide these under a sheet of tracing paper, and they allow you to draw a room as you'd see it, but in correct scale and from a number of different perspectives. An architect's scale is the old standby that's shown at left. This triangular ruler (about $5) has 10 different gradationsplus a regular ruler-that allow you to read or draw plans in scales ranging from 3/32 inches per foot to 3 inches per foot. For instance, if you have plans drawn in 1/4-inch scale, you'd find the scale marked 1/4 (on the upper right corner of one side; an upside-down 1 is below it, and 1/2 and 1/2 are at the other end). You read this scale right to left from the 0; even numbers up to 46 feet are marked. Smaller ticks to the right of the 0 represent inches. A 1/8-inch scale fits within this one, and reads from left to right. An Accu-iine binder ($17) is shown with the architect's scale. It is essentially a special plastic grid on which you lay tracing paper. With it, you can draw straight lines, parallel or perpendicular, every time you put pen to paper. You'll find an assortment of kits at art and architectural supply stores and some bookstores, and through several catalogs. The model kit featured above (along with perspective grids and a floor plan kit with furniture stickers) is available by mail order from Design Works, Inc., I I Hitching Post Rd., Amherst, Mass. 01002; (413) 549-4763.
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Date:Dec 1, 1990
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