Space planning tips for a successful residential design

Space PlanningSpace planning is by far the most valuable part of any successful design of your home. No matter what room your trying to work with, the space planning must be done in order to get the room to meet your needs. I have some tips that will guide you through doing your own room in the most basic of ways. There are things that a designer knows, such as furniture size, and typical space requirements that make this go much more smoothly for them, but you can certainly do it on your own as well.

Starting Out

You want to decide what the primary function will be for your room. You must be able to accommodate your needs accordingly.

What number of people do you wish to hold in here. This will tell you how much you need in terms of seating.

Identify focal points. Know where your television must be. Your fireplace is a big focal point that shouldn’t be ignored. Even a large window that you want to be sure to look out at all times is a focal point. These don’t change, so know them and work around them.

Be sure to recognize any important area’s you may have. An opening to another room, or built in shelves are area’s that you have to work with rather than against.

Make up a wish list, or do not wish list. This is what you want to try to work in if at all possible. If not, it’s just the way it has to be.

Measure room for space planMeasure it Out

Measure out your entire floor plan. This means all walls, doors, fireplaces, windows, and everything that is permanently apart of the architectural structure of the house. You need this ito be able to draw up a successful floor plan.

Be accurate when you measure. Getting something wrong, although minor, can cause a chain reaction that could make other steps difficult down the road.

Always measure out existing furniture. Even if it’s a piece you know you will not be keeping, you want to have it as a reference at the very least. It is always a good idea to know what was originally used in the space, even if it’s as a means of comparison.

Draw it Up

If you are able to draw up these plans on a computer program like CAD, I highly recommend it. If not, use a scale in 1/4″ = 1′-0″and draw up a very basic idea of the plan. You can get a scale like this at any Staples, or Office Depot. Draw up the walls and architectural elements first, and the furniture can be on another sheet, if needed.

Play with furniture for space planPlay With it

Print out small furniture pieces in a 1/4″ scale. You can find some at Copenhagen Furniture and simply print and cut them out. Be sure not to change the scale when printing. For more precise furniture scaling to meet your needs, you can make your own just as pictured here. Now move the pieces around on your floor plan in as many different ways as you can. This really helps to give you an idea of how this furniture will work within your space. You will eventually come across the one plan that meets your requirements. Also, because you aren’t familiar with the space requirements, it’s better to give extra space between pieces, or for pathways. This is so that you know you can work with this when you get your actual furniture. It’s better to be safe than sorry.


Now that you have identified what you need, and the approximate size, you can begin shopping. While you are doing your shopping, the aesthetic traits of these pieces are important, but only if they meet the needs of the space plan. Knowing what size you are looking for will eliminate a lo of options and will make shopping much easier than you can imagine. In the end, you will get a space that both looks nice, and functions properly. You and your guests will love it!
If you’re looking for assistance for professional space planning services, contact me for information.

Images: Rhiannon’s Interiors, HGTV, and Meadow Lake Road

Written by Rhiannon Gillis. Rhiannon is a designer based out of Los Angeles and writes for the design blog

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3 thoughts on “Space planning tips for a successful residential design

  1. Reblogged this on Interior Dessert and commented:
    Space planning! Rhiannon’s explanation and breakdown of steps make this daunting task, easy! I love doing this sort of thing… I grew up rearranging my room all the time and drawing it out before hand. Now, newly a part of the Interior Design world, breakdowns like this really help me understand what needs to be done in specific order, so time & money are not wasted!

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