Space planning, once the exclusive purview of commercial interior designers, is taking residential interiors by storm. As Americans continue to downsize their dwellings, this valuable tool is helping them create rooms that maximize storage and improve livability.
Space planning can be a headache, with all the measuring and sketching, but it’s also fun to rearrange your furniture virtually (easier on the back!). Here are a few tips to get you started laying out your furniture like a pro.
The Basics: Defining the Floor Plan
The foundation of any room design is the floor plan. It’s critical to draw the room to scale, so you will be able to tell if the furniture will fit in the designated space. Of course, it’s wise to measure at least twice, taking note of the ceiling height, as well as doors and windows, electrical outlets and other features. If you have the construction plans from when your home was built, simply take measurements from that. As you begin to design your space plan, make sure to take advantage of architectural details and let them shine. Use graph paper if you prefer to design by hand, or find one of the many free automated tools online.
How Will Your Family Use the Space?
The next major consideration when developing a space plan is your lifestyle. Do you entertain a lot, or prefer quiet family time? Do you need a home office, a media room or a children’s play area? Try to visualize different areas for play, conversation and relaxation. Think about the size of your furniture and the number of people utilizing the room. Remember to allow at least 2-3 feet for paths of travel to move from one zone to the next. Sketch out some basic ideas, using bubble diagramming to represent rooms, zones or furniture groupings. Keep sketching until you come up with an arrangement that works. Some people like to make paper cutouts (to scale, of course) of furniture, and move them around the floor plan to evaluate various arrangements.
Tips for Furniture Placement
To help make your space feel less cramped, give furniture some breathing room. A good rule of thumb is to allow 3 feet for aisles and one foot between your coffee table and sofa. Create cozy islands for interaction, and place chairs and sofas close enough so that your guests don’t have to shout to one another. Leverage multi-functional furniture, such as an ottoman that does double duty for storage, seating or a serving table. Depending on the room size, you may also need to adjust the furniture scale. Glass-topped tables and open-back shelving create a sense of spaciousness, rather than heavy dark wood pieces. Use mirrors to create a sense of light or reflect a preferred vista. Another technique to make windows appear bigger is to mount curtain rods above the window frame and out from the sides to give the impression of taller, wider-looking windows.
You know your own space better than anyone, but sometimes you need to enlist a fresh pair of eyes with a new perspective. The designers at Guild Hall Fine Furnishings in Salt Lake City have years of experience with space planning. They will be glad to assist you in finding pieces that inspire the desired mood and help to really pull the entire look together, based on your very own space planning.