There are many adjectives I can use to describe my college experience: amazing, stressful, memorable, ridiculous, and broke, to name just a few. However, when I think back on some of the dorm rooms I shared, one word in particular comes to mind: CRAMPED.
If you’ve ever lived in a dorm (and especially if you live in one now), you understand that space is a huge commodity. Every square inch you can gain is important. This can mean hours of planning and rearranging on moving day to get things just right. An entire afternoon is gone, as you labored tirelessly, assembling and disassembly lofted beds just to find the perfect balance between efficiency and comfort. This cubby of a room is going to be your home for the next several months, after all.
Well, fret no more! Next time you are tasked with a daunting day of dorm furniture arrangement, why not let SolidWorks do the heavy lifting?! Actually, you’ll still need to do the physical lifting, but if you use SOLIDWORKS assemblies to plan your dorm room layout, much of the grunt work will go right out the window.
First you’ll want to create 3D models of your furniture. This may sound like a lot of work, but keep in mind that a bed, dresser and desk are all essentially just boxes. There is no need to go into great detail. All you need is a tape measure and your laptop with a free student access version of SOLIDWORKS to get started!
If you decide to model your furniture with multiple components instead of just solid blocks, it is best to keep them as their own individual subassemblies. This more organized approach will be much easier to manage your design when putting together the full dorm assembly, and will also allow you to have drawers that open and close to test their range of motion against other furniture.
Next you’ll want to measure and model the floor plan of your room, including any windows and doors or closets that you wouldn’t want to have blocked. You may chose to actually model a door that would open in order to later test its interaction with any furniture nearby (see pro-top #5 below). You still want to be able to get in and out!
Now comes the fun part – finding as many furniture arrangements as you can! Sit down with your roommate and say “what if…” to any dorm room scenario you can dream up. After having built my own models and room, here are some pro-tips that will help you be more successful.
1. If you have different height options for your bed, use part configurations (or assembly configurations with a sub-assembly) to demonstrate this. Once you have the different configurations modeled, changing bed height is just 2 clicks away!
2. Use Assembly Configurations to save an arrangement so that you can easily switch back to it when you’re making your final decision. Assembly configurations allow you to vary mates, dimensions, and part configurations, among other things, all within the same file. In this case, I find it very helpful to be able to suppress the mates that I use to position furniture against walls to reposition for a different arrangement. I can also vary the bed configurations that I created in pro-tip #1!
3. Organize your mates into folders, depending on what they are used for. This will help when you’re creating your assembly configurations. Several of the mates in my top level assembly are simply used to hold my walls and floor together. These mates you know you won’t be changing, so you can group them into a folder called “Room Mates”. There are almost as many mates used for keeping furniture on the floor. These mates are also likely to stay as they are, but you may want to suppress one or two in case you decide to stack the dressers or create bunked beds, so you can group these into a folder called “Floor Mates”. The rest of the mates are specific to any given configuration, so you can suppress and unsuppress them as you please!
4. Use Display States to get a better view of your room from various angles. Modeling all four walls can make mating very easy, however, it can make actually seeing and working with your geometry very difficult. You can create display states to easily show your room with various walls showing or hidden, or even transparent. Once a display state is created, switching back to it is as simple as a double-click. (You can also use display states to modify and save appearance settings – this is a great way to test out potential paint colors on a room!)
5. Use the measure tool, interference detection and collision detection to make sure the arrangement you like will give you enough room to truly function! Want to know if you’ll bump your head on the ceiling with that lofted bed? Measure it! Can’t tell if your desk is packed in too tightly? Run an interference detection! Not sure if your dresser drawer will be able to open all the way in that tight space? Sounds like you need to do a collision detection! The measure tool and interference detection tool can be found on the Evaluate tab or in the Tools drop-down menu. Collision detection is a special mode in the Move Component dialog (Assembly tab).
With your dorm room modeled in SOLIDWORKS, you can finally take the guess work out of your interior designing endeavors. Curious about whether or not you can squeeze that futon in? No problem! Wondering where the best place is to mount that flat screen TV? Just model her up (or download a similar model from sites like GrabCAD or 3DContentCentral) and the mystery is solved.