Digital Editor

A friend’s recent move to a new apartment and the subsequent furniture shopping reminded me why I have a hard time braving Ikea. Step inside a maze of options, throw in a dash of indecision, and you end up exhausted, frustrated and without that bookshelf you had intended to buy.

Online shopping was made for people like me. It offers the same endless possibilities without the pressure of a trip to a store. The free iOS app SnapShop Showroom wants to bridge the gap between the online and physical worlds by letting you visualize brand-name furniture and accessories in your own space.

Here’s how it works: Take a photo or two of the room to which you want to add a new chair, bed or desk. Pick a piece of furniture you want to browse for from a list based on various categories (living room, bedroom and lighting), or narrow your options first from one of the app’s four featured brands: CB2, Pier 1 Imports, Capitol Lighting and Ikea. Select an item you like, and it appears superimposed on the photo of your room.

You can scale the item to whatever size you’d prefer, drag it to different spots and rotate it. The price for each item you add to your room displays when you click on it, and a shopping cart icon takes you to a more detailed listing: the name, dimensions, price and a link to buy it or find it in stores. You can save your room as a photo on your phone’s camera roll, e-mail it to friends or post it to Facebook.

The app makes furniture shopping feel like a game; scaling, dragging and dropping different mirrors onto my bedroom wall was fun. The photos looked like a rudimentary Photoshop job.

(Courtesy of SnapShop)

The fun doesn’t make up for what the app lacks, however. SnapShop Showroom is available only for iOS. Stores such as Pier 1 and Ikea have an enormous inventory, but very little of it is reflected in the app. Attention to detail is lacking: one of the items I selected and put in my own bedroom, Ikea’s Birkeland bed frame, is no longer for sale.

After expanding into Android, getting more retailers on board and keeping up with inventory, I’d suggest that the app’s San Francisco-based developers add notifications for sale items, and the ability to post to more social media sites.

SnapShop Showroom has a solid foundation to build on, and I plan on trying it again after I move to a new apartment — and before I venture into the aisles of Ikea.

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NAME: SnapShop Showroom

COST: Free


CREATOR: SnapShop Inc.

USER RATINGS: (1,332 ratings)

REVIEW’S BOTTOM LINE:A solid foundation and fun but could use an Androi d version and more products.