Design Tools Tips + Tricks


his hers iphone

Angry Birds, Cut the Rope, Words With Friends, and Fruit Ninja… Greg and I enjoy playing games on our iPhones, and these are some of our favorites, but there are also a lot of great apps for home renovators, designers, and DIYers alike. We thought we’d share some of our favorite home-oriented productivity apps with you.

YOUR PERSONAL ART GALLERY. is the go-to place online for art prints, posters, frames, and specialty art. They feature art of all different media, styles, subjects, and sizes; everything from modern movie posters to Picasso.  Basically, if you want something put on your wall, they’ve got it.

Thanks to the free app (we love free!), you can browse their endless collection right on your iPhone. You’re probably thinking, “What makes this so special?  I can browse through different categories, look at the artwork, and buy it right on their website via Safari.” That’s true, but this app allows you to link to your account, which allows you to save favorites to your gallery from your phone.  The other thing that makes the app unique is the “Wall Gallery” feature. This is where it gets good…

The “Wall Gallery” is insanely useful. Here’s how it works: take a picture of your empty wall, then, while you’re browsing, if you see an art piece that tickles your fancy, you can superimpose it onto the picture of your wall to see what it will look like. No Photoshop required!

FINGER PAINTING. Sometimes picking out paint colors can be an overwhelming and not-so-fun experience. But guess what, there’s an app for that.

Meet the Benjamin Moore Color Capture app. This app is hands down one of my favorite apps, both for fun and productivity. To use it, you just tap the “Capture” button, take a photo of something you want to base your paint colors on, then slide your finger across the photo and tap the “match” button. The app will then match your selection to one of the 3,300+ paint colors in the Benjamin Moore library. If that isn’t cool enough (and this part is my favorite!), shake the iPhone and it will give you four coordinating colors.

By double-tapping the color swatch or the handy star icon, you can save your favorites in a folder and sort them by room. If gathering coloring inspiration via color wheel is more your style, there’s a full-spectrum color wheel available as well. Just like the photo inspiration feature, your selection on the color wheel can be translated into a Benjamin Moore paint color and saved as a favorite. As a graphic artist by trade, I love mixing up different colors.  It’s great to know that if I come up something, I’ll be able to match my mixture up to real paint colors that I can buy in the store.

HIGH TECH MEASURING TAPE. So you’re out shopping for who-knows-what, and you stumble upon a great piece of furniture or art.  You weren’t expecting to find anything for the room it would go in, though, so you don’t have any measurements. This has happened to me on more than one occasion. I thought, “There’s gotta be an app for that.” I was right!

MyMeasures is a great app for that type of situation. It’s also great for those of us who consistently lose the measurement notes that we were planning on taking to the store with us. (Yep. I’m looking at you, Greg Brown!) Just take a picture of the room or object that you’re measuring, draw a line on the screen, type in the measurement, and you’ve got it on your phone forever. You can also add notes and color-code measurements. I absolutely love having this on my phone so I never have to guess about whether something will fit or not!

VIRTUAL YARD SALE. Over the past few years, Craigslist has become THE alternate for newspaper ads and even eBay. With CraigsApp, you can now post, browse and contact sellers easily. Actually, I find the app is a lot more “user friendly” (as Greg would say) than the online version.

When you search for an item, the price, a partial description and the first photo show up in list form. You don’t have to click on each individual item in order to browse, which is a major step up from the browser-based version. All the functionality of the website is there, too. So you can reply to the seller, attach the listing to an email and view the item’s location on the map without even leaving the app.

The major reason I like using the app over the website is the browse by photo option. Genius! If you know what the item you’re looking for looks like (say you want a yellow bike, not a red one), it makes the browsing experience really easy.

FINANCIAL ORGANIZATION. Since we first purchased his and her iPhones in early 2008, we’ve been through our fair share of bill management apps. BillTracker rocks our world. The best feature about BillTracker is the Upcoming button, which allows you to view bills that are due within the next 30 days at a touch of a button. Of course, there are lots of other nice features like the color-coded calendar and list modes, which are available at just a tap or two.

Since I pay most of our bills online, I used to spend a lot of time writing down the payment confirmation numbers. With BillTracker, I can record the confirmation numbers on my phone so I won’t lose them. BillTracker also reminds you when a bill is due soon (or even past due). It also lets you do some simple accounting by showing you a complete history for each account. Simply put, this makes keeping up with bills a lot more hassle-free.

Enough with the home productivity apps. If you are looking for some fun and random apps for your iPhone, here are a few of our favorites:

HIS Bank of America, WordPress, Bible, Around Me, Facebook, Tweet Deck, Beejive Mobile, Shazam, Pandora, Words With Friends, Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, Cut the Rope, Tetris, Minigore, Team Viewer. HERS Yard Sale Hidden Treasures: Sunnyville, Words With Friends, Angry Birds Lite, Cut the Rope, Livestrong, Heartguard, Hulu Plus, Fandango, Instagram, iBooks, One Kings Lane, Twitter, Evernote, PayPal, WordPress.

Do you have any favorite apps that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear about them!

App screen shot images found here.

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  • Reply
    Jessica F
    February 17, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    What did I do before the iPhone (AND before it had apps)? I vaguely remember something called a razor? a Q? maybe a phone by Nokia? I remember playing snake, dialing 1 for voicemails, and being confused by something called a text message.

    Now, I start my morning checking GROUPON, RUE LALA, LIVING SOCIAL and WOOT WATCH. And when I can’t sleep there is always a new book to read on STANZA, something I haven’t watched on NETFLIX and a restaurant to discover on URBANSPOON. If I need a laugh there is FML, if I need to be a miniature ninja there is TREES OF DOOM and when I’m feeling nostalgic I can browse through my old college files on DROPBOX.

    Oh dear sweet iPhone.

  • Reply
    Bianca B
    February 17, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    I just tried the app. LOVE!!!!!!!!!!! I think the MyMeasures app looks pretty cool to.

  • Reply
    Nicole Camden
    February 17, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    MyMeasures is an awesome app. My husband used it while building our addition and I used it while furnishing the addition. Very helpful.

  • Reply
    Molly K
    February 17, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    LOVE this! So many new apps to download!

  • Reply
    February 17, 2011 at 10:24 pm

    I just downloaded the Benjamin Moore app and I must say, I think I’m addicted to it MOORE than Angry Birds! I keep on taking pictures of things to just browse the paint chips. So fun!! Question, how did you take the screen shots of your iPhones?

    • Reply
      February 18, 2011 at 2:24 pm

      It’s super easy! Just hold down the home button and the top button for a few seconds. The picture click sounds and the image is saved to your Camera Roll.

  • Reply
    John P
    February 18, 2011 at 1:12 am

    I need money put in my account to finish my kitchen renovation. Is there an app for that?

  • Reply
    February 18, 2011 at 9:10 am

    That MyMeasures app seems really practical. Just having your measures in your phone, you can randomly find furniture and know if it would fit or not. Brilliant.

  • Reply
    February 18, 2011 at 10:51 am

    I have ordered 2 large prints (matted and framed) from I love them both! They look great!

    When the prints were delivered one was a little warped. I called and they immediately sent me a new print and told me to keep the old one. Great customer service.

    Love the apps!

  • Reply
    February 18, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    I actually have all of the apps you talked about and I love every single one. Especially MyMeasures! It’s so handy when shopping at places like Home Goods when you find things you aren’t expecting, haha!

  • Reply
    Hilary @ My So-Called Home
    February 18, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    What great and useful apps! If only I had an iphone… Question- is that box your phone is sitting on in the first photo from Paper Source? If not, I bought one eerily similar at PS last month:

  • Reply
    February 18, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    I’m going to give and MyMeasures a try — I didn’t know they had an app for that! Thanks for the tips! Actually I’m going to download the CraigsApp too because the one I have sucks 😉 Thanks again.

  • Reply
    Juliet | Urban Nest
    February 19, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    Great post, thank you! I’m obsessed with my iPhone and finding the best (and most useful) apps.

    I really like Remember the Milk (list organization); PopSugar (a nice collection of celebrity gossip, fitness tips, and tech tips); Cartolina (sweet text/e-mail greeting cards); and Zillow — we’re in the market for a new house; RunKeeper; TimeWerks Lite (freelance hours, invoicing, etc.); and eBay.

    Can’t wait to download some of your suggestions, too. Thanks!

  • Reply
    Kate @ Upholstered Beds
    July 30, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    I didn’t knew about the app

    They have a nice artwork collection

    Thanks for the share !

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