9 Easy way to Measure and Model a Room Using SketchUp – Today I’m gonna show you how to measure and accurately model a real space in SketchUp in nine easy steps using this kitchen as an example. We’ll go through the whole process together from start to finish, covering the mistakes people often make when measuring that can be both costly and frustrating, and talking about the things you need to get right in SketchUp to avoid unnecessary headaches and setbacks when it comes to creating a 3D model.
And when we’re finished, you’ll be able to apply these same steps to any of your own projects of any size. So what are the nine easy steps to measure and model a room in SketchUp?
9 Easy way to Measure and Model a Room Using SketchUp
Let’s jump right in with number :
1. Orient your model to the space.
All right, let’s take a quick look at the room we’re about to measure and model. As you can see, it’s a fairly standard layout, no odd angled or curved walls, a couple windows, and a door. It’s also open to the living room on one side. In our example, we’re gonna primarily focus on measuring and modeling the kitchen portion of this room, but we’ll also talk about how to handle the adjacent space as well, since it plays an important part in how the layout of the whole interior works.
Now, the first thing we’ll wanna do before we measure or draw anything is figure out which way is north. Of course we could draw our model facing any direction, but this is a super easy step, plus if we make sure to orient our model in the correct direction, we’ll be able to take advantage of SketchUp’s built in Shadows feature, which will show how light and shadows move across this space at different hours of the day or times of the year.
So let’s just quickly check the compass on my phone. All right, so this direction will be north when we build our model in SketchUp. So how do we set that up?
Before we get any further let me just quickly mention that this video isn’t intended for beginners who have never used SketchUp before. To get the most out of this video, you should be familiar with all the fundamental concepts we cover in our “Getting Started with SketchUp” video. So if you haven’t already, pause this video, and go check it out.
OK, let’s launch SketchUp. Now, as you’ll remember from that “Getting Started with SketchUp” video, the best place for us to start is gonna be in a 2D planned view template.
Let’s choose the feet and inches template for this example. And one last thing to note, I’m using SketchUp Pro here, but you can do any of these steps using SketchUp Free. Just know that the interfaces are a little bit different between Pro and Free.
For instance, to get a top down view in Free, you’d need to open the scenes panel on the right and click the icon for a top down view. All right, so which way is north in SketchUp?
By default the green axis runs north south, and the red axis runs east west. Now that we know which direction we’ll be drawing a room in, we’re ready for the next step.
2. Draw the overall width and length of the space.
Now it’s time to break out the tape measure and get started measuring. And the first thing we’ll want to determine is the overall width and length of the room.
To do that, we’ll need to measure from the inside face of one wall to the inside face of the opposite wall. If possible, when you measure for your own projects, try to measure from a spot where you can place your measuring tape directly against the wall itself, not against a baseboard or tile since the thicknesses of those objects can throw off your overall measurements.
Now, if that’s not possible, what we can do for instance, is measure from the face of the tile to the face of the tile, then measure the thickness of the tile itself. Add those numbers together, accounting for the tile on both sides in this case, and that will give us the total overall all width. Of course, you can do this with the thickness of any object that doesn’t allow you to get all the way to the wall itself, such as a cabinet or baseboard.
OK, next we’ll measure the length. And here we’ll need to remember to add the tile depth to our measurement.
So 153 inches plus 3/8 of an inch for the tile. Now, the let’s draw the overall width and length of our kitchen in SketchUp. Hold on.
Sure, we could just draw 148 inch by 153 3/8 inch rectangle for the footprint, but it will be more helpful later if we actually set guidelines for the width and length of our space first and I’ll talk more about why in a minute. But to do that let’s pick the Tape Measure tool, click on the green axis to start pulling a new guide, type 148 and press Enter or Return on the keyboard to create the guideline for the width. And then repeat the steps, only this time we’ll click on the red axis and create a new guideline at 153 3/8 for the length.
Now that we guides for the shape of the room we’ll use the Rectangle tool to draw on the footprint. Okay, a quick note, as we continue through our list, with each step I’ll be guiding you through measuring and how to translate that into SketchUp right away.
However, more than likely in the real world you’ll be jotting down all the measurements you take on site then creating your model later when you’re back at your computer and that’s okay, either way will work.
And if you need to review all the steps we’re covering in this video later for your own projects, I’ve gone ahead and put together a set of free notes for you that will make it easy for you to do that. I’ve added the link to download them in the cards. All right, now we’ve got the overall width and length of the room measured and drawn, the next step is
3. Draw the thickness of the walls.
We measured the size of our room from the inside faces of the walls.
Next we’ll need to determine the thickness of the walls so we can draw those around the footprint we already created. In this kitchen we have a small side wall that we can use to measure the thickness. All right, let’s translate that to SketchUp. To do that we’ll use the Offset tool. First, we’ll click once on the face and move the mouse outside of the existing edges.
Then we’ll type in our dimension for the thickness and press Enter or Return. And now we’ve created 5 1/4 inch wall thickness around all four sides. But wait, what about the side that’s open to the living room? Not to worry, we’re not done yet. Even though we’re focusing on the kitchen, we’ll still wanna model some of the adjacent space.
So let’s follow the same steps to measure, create guidelines, and use SketchUp’s basic drawing tools to add the footprint of the open space next to the kitchen. Now here’s we’re creating guidelines, instead of just drawing a rectangle for the footprint, will come in handy. We can take a new measurement starting from the point we measured for our kitchen length to the living room wall.
Then in SketchUp, using the Tape Measure tool, we can create a new guideline, starting from our previous guideline, and extend it to the distance of the measurement we just took, 184 inches.
And now we have a new guideline for the length of the living room, which allows us to SketchUp’s drawing tools to create the floor and walls around the living room.
We’ll also wanna use the same process to determine the length of the small wall segment at the end of the kitchen. Let’s go ahead and add another guideline for that, and then draw in the wall. Now, when we erase the old wall between the kitchen and living room, we’ll still have a guideline in place that lets us know where the kitchen ends and the living room begins.
We could erase this guideline, but let’s leave it in there, just in case we need to use it for reference later. Of course, depending on the scope of your project, you may need to be more accurate if your walls have different thicknesses, such as with an exterior wall.
In that case, you can use the same process by measuring the thickness at an opening, like a doorway, and then adjusting the size in your SketchUp model using SketchUp’s basic drawing tools. But since we’re focusing just on the interior of the kitchen for our example, we won’t worry about doing that now. All right, we’ve got the basic layout of our room and walls, but so far we’ve ignored any wall openings, including windows and doors.
Now, if you were sketching out a 2D plan with paper and pencil, you’d likely measure and add those to your plan at this point, but since we’re modeling this kitchen in 3D, there’s another step that we’ll wanna do first to make it easier to add those openings later.
4. Draw the height of the walls.
With our basic walls drawn in 2D, the next step is to measure the height of the ceiling.
OK, let’s head back over to SketchUp and orbit to a bird’s eye view.
Next using the Push-Pull tool, we’ll hover over the face of the walls and then click and let go to start pulling the walls up. Then we’ll type in the dimension for the height of the ceiling and press Enter or Return on the keyboard to set the walls at the exact height we measured. All right, now that we have the start of our three dimensional room model, our next step is
5. Create window and door openings.
For this example, we’ll start by taking measurements for the window on the east wall, and then we’ll move our way around the room for any other openings.
Since there’s a cabinet in our way below, let’s take the measurement from the ceiling down to the top of the window opening. Then let’s measure the height of the window. We’ll also wanna measure from the north wall to edge of the window opening, and finally we’ll need to get the width of the window opening.
Back in SketchUp let’s follow the same steps we used to create guideline for our floors and walls, only this time we’ll create guidelines for the dimensions of the window opening. Using the Tape Measure tool, we’ll pull a guide down from the ceiling and type in our dimension of 9.5 inches.
Then from that guideline, let’s pull down another, and enter the dimension for the height of our opening. We’ll do the same thing for the side of the window opening and the width of the window as well. All right, next, let’s use the Rectangle tool to draw our window opening based on our guidelines. And finally, to create the opening, we’ll use the Push-Pull tool.
So let’s click on the face of the rectangle, and then move the mouse to push-pull into the wall. We’ll keep going until we get the on face inference in SketchUp. We might also see a flickering of blue and white faces overlapping each other. When we see that inference, we’ll click again to complete the push-pull operation and SketchUp will automatically punch out the wall opening. This happens anytime you push-pull one face onto a parallel face, the two cancel each other out, making it a great and quick way to carve things away or punch out openings.
One quick thing to note, we’ve only taken measurements of the window opening, but if you’re taking measurements in the field to build a SketchUp model from later, you might wanna take additional measurements around the opening so that you can accurately model the existing conditions. For instance, you may wanna measure the distance from the opening to the window itself, the width of the individual window panes, if there’re divided lights, really anything you might wanna recreate later in SketchUp.
OK, we created our first window opening, now let’s repeat the process for the door opening. This time we can measure from the end of our window opening and again use our existing guideline in SketchUp to accurately place the location of the door. And finally, we’ll repeat the same steps again for the window opening on the west wall, taking the measurements we need, adding the guidelines in SketchUp, and then creating the opening.
Great, we’ve now created walls and window openings and we’re ready to move on to the next step.
6. Stay organized with groups and tags.
At this point, all of the edges and faces that make up our walls are all stuck together. And if we keep going, anything else we draw will get stuck to this geometry, which may not seem like a big deal yet, but we’ll create huge headaches down the road when you realize your models become a sticky, uneditable mess.
But you can avoid all that pain by grouping geometry, which protects it from getting stuck to other geometry outside the group.
That’s why I always say group early and group often. Your future self will definitely thank you. Thanks, man. To create a group we’ll use the Select tool and triple click on the walls to select them all, then right click on the selected walls and pick the option for Make Group. Now, while we’re at it, let’s also get started organizing our model by assigning a tag to the walls group.
Tags allow you to control the visibility of things in your model, which will be helpful down the road if we need to hide and show to different things for different views of our project.
To do that, we’ll open the Tags dialogue and click the plus to create a tag. Let’s name it “Walls,” and press Return or Enter on the keyboard to create the tag. If you’re using SketchUp Free, you’ll find the tags panel on the right by clicking the Tag icon. Next we’ll need to assign the tag we just created to the walls group.
So let’s right click on the walls group and pick Entity Info. In the Entity Info dialogue, we’ll click on the Tags dropdown menu and pick the New Walls tag.
In SketchUp Free it’s not a dropdown, instead you’ll click where it says Untagged, then select the New Walls tag. Now back in the Tags dialogue, we can click on the eye icon next to the walls tag to turn the visibility of the walls group on and off. All right, now that we’ve cleaned up the walls and grouped them, our next step will be
7. Draw the floor.
Let’s orbit around so we can see the underside of the walls. For our 3D model, we wanna create a floor that has thickness to it, and that also extends below the walls.
To do that let’s take the Rectangle tool and click from the outside corner of one of the walls diagonally across to the outside corner at the opposite end of the walls. With the Push-Pull tool let’s pull the floor, down type “6,” and press the Enter or Return key to create a floor that’s six inches thick. Now let’s not forget our last step, and make sure to protect our floor from any unwanted stickiness by making it a group.
So we’ll pick the Select tool and select the entire floor by triple clicking on it.
Then let’s right click on the selected floor and pick the option for Make Group. And again, let’s create a tag for the floor and assign it to the floor group. Now we’re ready for the next step.
8. Draw the ceiling.
The steps for drawing the ceiling are similar to the ones we follow to draw the floor. First let’s orbit around so that we can see the top of the walls. Then we’ll draw a rectangle covering our entire walls group, and push-pull the ceiling up.
We’ll set it to 10 inch is thick. And again, we’ll make our ceiling into a group, and then create a tag and assign it to the ceiling group.
But wait, we’re not quite done yet. That’s because in our real world kitchen we’ve got recess lighting in the ceiling. When taking measurements of a room in the field, it’s easy to forget about the lights, especially when they’re recessed. But knowing where these are located can be important, depending on the type of project you’re working on. In general, I recommend measuring to the center point of the light, then measure the diameter of the fixture.
This one is seven and a half inches. In SketchUp, we’ll follow the same process we’ve outlined so far to add new guidelines for our center point.
With our guidelines in place we’ll create the cutout for the recess fixture using the Circle tool. We’ll need to enter Edit Group mode to edit the geometry of the ceiling. To do that we can right click on the ceiling group and select the option for Edit Group.
Then center the circle on the intersection point of the guidelines, then click and move the mouse to begin drawing. Now we’ll enter our measurement from the field, only in SketchUp, we’ll need to use the radius, not the diameter. So we’ll divide our number in half, which gives us a radius of 3 3/4 inches, press Enter or Return, and we have our dimensionally accurate circle. Now we can use the Push-Pull tool to carve the hole for the recess fixture. And then we can repeat the process for all of the lights in the ceiling.
When we’re finished, we can model the fixtures in the recessed hole to match the design of our particular lights using SketchUp drawing tools.
We’ll first want to exit Edit Group mode so none of the new geometry we draw gets stuck to our ceiling group. Then using the same tools and techniques we’ve covered so far, we can draw representations of the light fixtures. We’ll start with a Circle tool, then take the Offset tool to create the rim. And finally, we can use the Push-Pull tool to extend the rim and recess the light.
And when we’re finished, let’s select our light by triple clicking, only this time instead of a group, we’ll make our light into a component. Components are like group geometry in SketchUp, but can be a better choice for elements that we’ll use more than once in a model.
We get into more about why in our “How to Model a House in SketchUp Free” video. I’ve added a link to that video in the cards. I’ll also talk more about why a component could be a better choice here in just a second.
But first you should know that we could repeat this process for all our recess lights, but it will be much faster to simply create copies of the light component we’ve just drawn for each location. Before we do that, let’s quickly add a tag, and assign it to our light component.
That way any copies we make will also have the same tag. Next, let’s go over the easiest way to create copies of an object like this, and that’s by using the Move tool. With the Move tool selected, tap the Option key on your keyboard if you’re on a Mac, or the Control key if you’re on a PC.
A plus icon will appear next to the Move cursor, indicating that we’re in Copy mode, then let’s click on the center point of the light component. SketchUp should automatically infer this point based on the guidelines we’ve already laid out. Then we can click again on another intersection of our guidelines to place the copy of our light right where we want it. And simply repeat that for each of the recess lights in our ceiling.
Now where a component really comes in handy instead of a group, is if we need to make edits to the design of our light component.
Any changes we make will also be made to other instances of the component throughout the model without having to edit each one individually. Pretty cool, right? If you like that, tip, be sure to give this video a like.
All right, now that we’ve got our recess lights placed accurately, let’s erase the guidelines we’ve made using the Eraser tool. And since the ceiling and lights each have their own tag, we can easily hide them by toggling off their visibility, which will wanna do in order to work on our next step.
9. Add the details.
OK, we’ve created the main bones of our kitchen, but of course there are plenty of details left that we could model and objects we could add. Most likely if you’re measuring and modeling an existing space for this remodel project, this point is probably as far as you need to go, in terms of recreating the and conditions in SketchUp.
And from here, you’re free to start building out any design changes, objects, fixtures, and materials as you see fit. Or there may be more elements in the existing space that are important to your project that you’ll wanna add to your SketchUp model.
For instance, things like door and window casings, electrical outlet locations, or even objects the room, like the existing cabinets and appliances. And in that case, you can simply follow the same steps we’ve outlined so far to measure and then draw, or add those elements in SketchUp. How far and how detailed you want to take the model is really up to you.
All right, so now you’ve made it through all 9 steps to measure and model a room using SketchUp. What’s next? Do me a speedy spare and tell us which tip you liked “the world’s largest” in the comments below right now.