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The Basics of Planning a Room Layout

When planning a room, the first step should be to create a list of needs for the room. How is the room to be used? Be realistic about how the room will really be used. You may have an ideal vision for the room, it is immaculate, a showplace, world leaders will be in awe of your home, but you have kids - remember, or pets or a sloppy spouse. Its okay to put everything on the list, but remember to put the things you don't want but have to live with, like a toy box or a cat box or a hamper. Make a list of what the room should be able to accomodate. For instance:

  1. Seat eight for social occasions
  2. Create a focus on the fireplace
  3. Display artwork
  4. Curio cabinet to display figurines
  5. Seat four comfortably for TV viewing
  6. Computer desk for the kids

Once you have a list you may need to prioritize it if you can't accommodate all of your requirements. Some of your requirements may even conflict and those must also be resolved before you can proceed.

The next step is to sketch the floor plan for the empty room. Measure the room and draw it on paper. Be sure to include the location of doors, windows and any other fixtures. We recommend using a piece of graph paper, it makes measuring and layout adjustment much easier. Graph paper with quarter inch grid is ideal. A scale of 1/4" for every 6" (2 squares for every foot) works well for most rooms. Make some photocopies of the blank layout so you can save different furniture layout versions.

Next you will need to make scale cut outs of your furniture. To make a scale piece, determine its dimensions and divide by the scale used to draw the room to determine the proper size for the cutout. For instance, to make a cutout for an eight foot long by 3 foot deep sofa, the cutout should be 4 inches by 1.5 inches. Using colored paper will make viewing the layout easier.

Once you have cutouts for all of your furniture, you are ready to start arranging the room's layout. Some things to remember;

  • Experiment, try some things that may not seem sensible at first
  • The furniture does not have to be pushed against the wall, consider bringing it into the room
  • Furniture, like sofas and mattresses, does not have to be aligned with the walls, trying angling pieces
  • Walkway space should be at least 30 inches for traffic areas and at least 24 inches where someone might stand

After you have created a layout you like, tape the pieces down and start again on a fresh layout until you have exhausted the possibilities.

For more information and ideas on arranging specific rooms in your home, see our other articles;

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