How to Create 3D Versions of Kitchen Designs Using CAD Drawings

Hi all, i’m extremely new to SketchUp and I was hoping someone could help guide me in the right direction.

The company I work with designs kitchens and bathrooms, they’d like to start using SketchUp in the hopes of creating 3D versions of their kitchens/bathrooms during the design phase to show a potential client what is possible.

Their plan was to take a CAD drawing, import it into SketchUp, and transform it into a 3D version of what their design will look like. Is that possible? If so, any advice on the best way to go about this? Is there a specific file type we need in order to import into SketchUp? How long would projects like this take to complete for someone still learning the program? etc.

We’re in the very early stages but we’re trying to gauge by the end of the week if this is even possible, and hopefully get some advice on the best way to go about it using this software. Any help would be much appreciated.



Sure you can. I just did such a model for a colleague who just draws 2D in the same software package I use, but eventually .dwg files get the linework into SketchUp. Quick and dirty, you can extrude a typical cabinet cross section in seconds, but you probably need real cabinets with detail. I suggest checking out the Kraft Maid dynamic components in 3D Warehouse as an example of what can be done with dynamic components. Open the options dialog, and you can choose cabinet size and options. Interact with them and you can open doors and pull out drawers.

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After you make your decision, since you’re new to SketchUp, I suggest you take the time to teach yourself the basics before launching too far into detailed design. This will help when you get to the more complex stuff like working with CAD files, components, construction documents, etc.

Can a CAD drawing be exported as a .dwg? If so, is that the file type you recommend importing into SketchUp to accomplish what my boss is hoping to do?

Also, when you’re finished with your 3D design in sketchup, how do I share that with the client? Can I just simply export as a PDF or another file type that they can easily open? What are the best options?

Yes you can import dwg files with the Pro version of SketchUp. A floor plan or interior elevation drawing can be used to help layout the model, or if you have 3d dwg you can import that as well.

You can send views of the SketchUP model to LayOut to make documents to show the client. You can make pdf files of the final document. You can also directly export image files from SketchUp. If you have a Mac pdf in and out of SketchUp and LayOut is fine. With Windows the options or method may be different (I don’t have windows so I don’t recall how that works). Other image files such as jpg and png are also possible.

So a quick image file directly out of SketchUp may be what you want, or for more control composing documents and scaled drawing, adding text etc., you may do better to export via LayOut.

How long? It can take an experienced person a couple hours to get a nice interior view of some cabinets or a room. Just starting-- it is just a matter of how fast you can learn. More time is needed to seek out the proper hardware and appliances, and to set up more complete views of the kitchen, get nice colors etc. Many more hours can be eaten up to get renderings of your SketchUp model through other programs. That’s where experience and skill can make some people way faster at getting results.

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Also, there are a lot of pre-built assets available for free on the 3D Warehouse. There is a ‘manufacturers’ filter to help narrow your search down and save you some time from modeling everything from scratch:

You could abandon Autocad and design your kitchens directly in SketchUp… cheaper, more fun, more accurate…

My experience is that kitchen cabinet vendors use specialized CAD software for the industry usually tied into the brand of cabinets they sell. It ends up generating the order for the cabinets. It usually isn’t the best at modeling and rendering the rest of the project like SketchUp is. Is that what you’re dealing with here? What kind of import/export will it do?

All of the cabinet makers I deal with use industry specific software - and I haven’t found one than can export in a file type able to be converted into anything SU friendly. I usually get pdf images to work from.
If you are not committed to any software, might be best to become SU proficient and use that from start to finish, as there seems to be a wealth of plugins and advice available.

This was OP’s original question.