Crash Course in Space Planning

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Image: Courtney Out Loud

Every interior design project has at least one thing in common: they all need a good space plan. Whether you are shopping for the whole room, or just a chair in the corner, you will have much more success if you start out with a plan.

What is a Space Plan?

Space Plan Furniture Layout
Images: (Top) Alice Lane, (Bottom) Alice Lane

A space plan is pretty much exactly what it sounds like, a plan for your space. This is where you take measurements of your room and draw an aerial view to scale including window and door placement. I use AutoCAD to create space plans for clients because they are quick and easy to edit, but graph paper or other online programs work just as well (try Googling “space plan online”). After your walls are in place, add in your furniture and decide on placement and size. Do you want a sectional? Or a sofa with two chairs instead? Now is the time to try out different options and see what works best for your lifestyle and for your space.

Why a Space Plan?

Space Plan Before and After
Image: Candice Olson

This post is actually a little funny coming from me because I’m not usually much of a planner. Wisher, dreamer, hoper? Yes. But planner? Not so much. As much as I love a little bit of chaos thrown into an interior, I always save that for art, accessories, and small accent pieces. But never for the main furnishings – those are all planned from the very beginning and there are so many advantages to approaching your design project this way.

The most obvious advantage is that space planning saves time and money. I can’t tell you how many times clients have called me after purchasing a sofa that was too long or after a wall was torn down that now leaves them stumped on where to put the TV. Plan it out from the beginning and you will avoid these costly and time-consuming errors.

Another great advantage is that space plans give you a shopping list for your project. It will keep you focused and on track, which will cut down on frustration, disappointment and wild goose chases. If you space plan properly, the size, shape, and type of furnishings you need will already be determined – eliminating more than half of your choices before you even step into a showroom or cruise the World Wide Web.

Other Helpful Space Planning Tips

Space Plan Sketch
Images: (Top) Alice Lane, (Bottom) Alice Lane

Don’t forget about walkways! Sometimes furniture looks like it fits perfectly in your 2D areal drawing, but the 3D version is lacking sufficient pathways for people to move around comfortably in the room. Here are a few measurements that I keep in my head at all times: 12” – 20” is sufficient space between seating and a coffee table; 24” – 30” is ideal for all other walkways between furniture; and 30”+ is best for areas with heavier traffic flow.

Always carry a tape measure and a copy of your space plan with you (taking a photo of your plan with your phone is especially handy). The worst thing that can happen to a decorator is finding something on sale and not knowing if it fits! Furniture is much too costly and much too heavy to haul back home only to be disappointed. Tape measures are especially helpful for all the thrifters out there shopping at flea markets and second hand stores where measurements aren’t listed on the tag.

So what do you think? Will you take the time to space plan your next project? Comment below and let us know!

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Brittany is an interior designer and stylist constantly searching for creativity and inspiration in the world around her. She currently resides in Los Angeles, California where she finds plenty of both. Her interior design studio services a variety of clients throughout California seeking her simple and collected aesthetic. Brittany believes that a house becomes a home when it is beautiful, comfortable and, most importantly, reflects the personality of the people who live inside.