Is there anything more frustrating than falling in love with the perfect sofa or chair or dining room table, only to get it home and realize it doesn’t fit? Or realizing that the paint in the living room that you could have sworn was slate blue is more stone blue and that new sofa won’t work at all? We’ve all been there.
As well as we think we know our own spaces, eyeballing it doesn’t get the job done. So how can you make sure this doesn’t happen to you? Keep reading for tips on how to plan your space BEFORE you buy your next piece of furniture.
One of the best things you can do, especially if you’re replacing more than one piece in a room, is to clear out the space. If all possible, empty the room of everything currently in there and give yourself a blank canvas to work with. This makes it much easier to visualize the furniture in place.
Once the room is empty, measure it. I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “measure twice, cut once”. It applies here, too. Make sure you include any wonky alcoves or recesses that you’re planning to place items in. Once you have those measurements, use them to create a floor plan.
What’s the best way to create that floor plan? This is where this process gets fun! There are so many ways you can do this. Graph paper is one of the easiest and most popular ways to do it. One of the reasons for its popularity is that it’s easy to use the grid to scale your drawing accurately. One engineer I know used graph paper to make an exact-to-scale diagram of the room, then cut out to-scale blocks of paper to represent the various pieces of furniture. This gave him a sort of 3D rendering of the room. He would then move the paper furniture around until the room looked the way he wanted it to. If you don’t have a graph paper handy and you want to get started (and you can draw even a little bit), a regular sketch can be equally effective. Do your best to get the scale as close as possible.
Another good option is to use blue painter’s tape to mark off sections in the room itself, so you can get an exact representation of how your furniture will fit into the room. Since you have the room cleared out anyway, measure pieces of tape to the dimensions of your various pieces of furniture and place them on the floor where you think you want the furniture to go. This way you can see how everything will look grouped the way you want it and make sure you’ve left enough space for people to walk through.
You can also use some of the widely available free software for planning your space. Better Homes & Garden has their Arrange A Room site. Floorplanner.com is another option. There’s also an online planner called 3Dream that will let you arrange a room. If none of those work for you, just Google room planner or furniture planner and you’ll find more options.
But how do you know where to place your furniture in the first place? When planning how to set up the room, there are a few things to keep in mind. First up is your lifestyle. Do you entertain often? If so, you’ll want to make sure you have enough seating for your guests. If you spend a lot of time watching TV, you’ll want to make sure the screen is visible from all the seats. If you’re a big reader, you’ll want to place an end table next to your favorite chair with a lamp and place for you to put a mug of tea or glass of wine. You’ll need enough walkways that are big enough for people to walk through. Same if you have big dogs (or cats or whatever pet you prefer) that will need to walk through the room.
Next, think of the lighting. If there’s not a lot of natural light, you’ll want to plan for lamps or chandeliers. If there is a lot of natural light, you’ll want to avoid blocking any of the windows with the furniture and make sure there won’t be a glare on any screens in the room.
Is there a piece you particularly love that you want to be the focal point of the room? If there is, place that first and work everything else around it.
And don't forget, you will also need to consider the type and color of the fabric you would like; and if that works with other components of your room ... wood finishes for tables or furniture legs, the decision to have upholstered dining chairs or wood…..or maybe even a bench seat on one side, the color of accessory pillows and throws. Oh, the decisions!!!