Creating a Floor Plan

Making Furniture Flow

Before situating your furniture – or, worse, buying furniture that doesn’t work in your home – map a plan so rooms flow. Here’s what to think about:

  • Visualize traffic flow. Don’t create an obstacle course. Make a scaled furniture layout on graph paper. Draw arrows on the floor plan to indicate how people and pets will flow. Don’t make people walk into the backs of furniture or maneuver around pieces. 
  • Test drive a floor plan. Create a furniture layout by making a poor man’s floor plan. Cut newspaper in the shapes of the furniture you’re considering, lay the pieces on the floor, and walk around to see if the furniture fits and the room flows. 
  •  Consider the lights. Be sure seating areas have task lights, and that end tables have outlets nearby. Design rooms so people don’t have to jump over cords.
  •  Vary the heights. A room where all the furniture is one height lacks interest. Vary furniture heights to fit the architecture. If you have eight-foot ceilings don’t use high-back dining room chairs. They’re more comfortable in homes with 10-foot ceilings. Use low-back chairs in rooms with eight foot ceilings. Likewise, if you live in a small bungalow, don’t buy a huge sofa. If you live in a starter castle, go ahead and get an armchair that would befit Goliath.
  •  Spread the visual weight. If a room in your home feels lopsided, you probably have too much physical or visual weight on one side. Imagine a seesaw in the center of the room. If one side gets weighed down, add something to the other side to pull the eye over and even out the room. Try a piece of furniture, or a large wall hanging in darker colors.
  •  Mix up shapes. Don’t make all the pieces in one room the same basic shape. If all the pieces are squares or rectangles, throw in an oval.
  • Separate public from private. A good floor plan divides public spaces (dining room, living room, entry and office) from private spaces (kitchen, family room, bedrooms.) What you have to go through to get somewhere else matters. One common flow flaw is having to go through a negative space to get to a nicer one. Don’t make people walk through the kids’ playroom to get to the living room.

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