There are a few questions you will need to answer before you can create the perfect furniture layout for any room. Once you have the room’s measurements, you will look at your space, including the walls, door openings, windows, and your focal point, e.g., fireplace to determine how to proceed.
Asking the right questions before buying furniture is the key to designing a successful space. In today’s post, I will share tips for measuring the actual square footage of your space, finding the balance line, determining traffic patterns, using a focal point, establishing an axis, determining if there is space for secondary activities, and finally determining if the room is properly balanced.
How to Measure the Overall Dimensions of a Room
- If you are using a retractable measuring tape, its best to have two people available to measure the space.
- I recommend buying a laser measuring tool, which is quick, easy, and only requires one person to measure accurately.
- Start by measuring the length of the room by measuring the longest wall first. Measure wall to wall and if the space has baseboards, measure above the baseboards to get an accurate measurement of the wall.
- Now measure the width of the room using the same method as above.
- You will also want to measure the height of the room, which is measured from the floor to the ceiling.
- Use feet (‘) and inches (“) for all your measurements, e.g., 20′-6″ x 16’-0”. If a measurement is less than half a inch, round it down to the nearest inch. If a measurement is one-half an inch or more, round it up to the nearest inch.
- Notate important features, like hallways, foyers, doors, windows, electrical outlets and switches, fireplaces, and heating/cooling units. Include the door and window width and height measurements in your notes, as well as which wall they are located. Include a note about the direction of the door swing and where they lead.
- You’ll want to note the electrical outlets and switches, including the ceiling, so you can better plan your lighting scheme.
- When choosing and planning your furniture layout, you’ll need to consider traffic patterns in the room, so that your furniture placement creates a natural flow.
To determine balance lines, you will want to visually divide the room into four equal quadrants. You will use the balance lines as the midpoints around which you organize furniture to create a balanced look in the room. You will balance a room when the “weight” of the furniture on one side of the room is about the same as the weight of the furniture on the opposite side.
You need to know where the traffic patterns are in a room to help you determine the best flow for the room. As you can see from the above graphic, you will want to leave 36 inches in front of all door openings, as well as room for a door the swings into a room. You will also need to leave room in front of a fireplace. A fireplace is a great focal point, so leave room to enjoy the view, as well as build a fire. Keeping the hearth (space in front of the fireplace) free of furniture is usually plenty of clearance. You will also want to leave 12 inches clear in front of windows, so there is enough space to open and close the window. In addition to the above furniture layout, you could also create a wonderful conversation area that floats on a rug in the middle of the room. Just remember to allow space around the periphery for people to move about the room.
At this point you will want to consider the basic function of the room and determine a focal point, around which major furniture arrangements should be designed. In the example above, the fireplace makes a perfect focal point. Other natural focal points could be a window with a lovely view. If your space does not have a natural focal point, you will want to create one, which can be done with a decorated console table and beautiful artwork or a console with a television.
When designing a room, you will want to create furniture groupings for the desired functions of the space. In our living room, we like to watch TV, listen to music, and visit with friends and family. We also have a fireplace, which makes a lovely focal point. The first step is placing the major furniture grouping. In our case, we floated a sectional on a large rug, which provides seating that faces the fireplace and TV. A lot of folks would place the TV above the fireplace, but we prefer to have the TV at a more comfortable level.
Establishing a Room Axis
You will start by establishing a wall axis, which will give you a line along which to organize decor that will draw attention all the way to the ceiling. In a dining room, placing a chandelier above the table brings the eye up to the ceiling. To create a room axis, you should imagine that the wall axis line extends across the ceiling and down the opposite walls and across the floor. Depending on the size of the room, you will want to use furnishings, such as art, console table, or a buffet cabinet to continue that line. Make sure the items balance the weight of the items on the opposite wall.
Now that you have decided where to place the furniture for the primary function of a space, you will want to see if you have room for secondary activities, e.g., reading, playing a musical instrument, working on a computer, game night with the kids, etc. Remember not to block traffic patterns. The graphic below gives you several great examples of secondary activity options that were available in this space.
The balance test is simply an eyeball assessment of the relative weight of the furniture in the different quadrants of the room. The above graphic reminds you to include the “weight” of the doorways, fireplace hearth, and windows when conducting the balance test. This space feels pretty balanced, but you still might want to add a small side table on the left side of the couch, as well as lighting and decor. It is almost impossible to achieve absolute equality in all four quadrants. You are looking for approximate equality, which will look perfect with practice.
Share how you balanced your space and let me know if you need help with a tricky space in the comments. Please like and share this post with a friend. It takes time and skill to create a personalized space, so be sure to subscribe below for future tips and tricks.