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Home Staging - space planning and furniture arranging

Space planning is easy and doesn't require anything more than pencil and paper!
Space planning diagram 1 - Dan Kalleres

Did you ever walk into a room in someone’s home (or maybe it’s a room in your own home) and it just felt awkward? Did you feel like you had to move out of your way to get where you wanted to go or the furniture was placed in such a way as to make it uncomfortable or difficult to hold a conversation?

Whether you have your house on the market, you are planning on putting it on the market in the near future or you just want to get that tricky room’s furniture arrangement right, then this is the article for you! Space planning is an important aspect to home staging and interior design alike.

The good news is that you don’t have to spend a lot of effort finding that perfect layout. Why put in all the physical effort of shifting sofas and chairs and big, clunky furniture around if you don’t need to? Space planning can be done with graph paper and a pencil, or for you tech savvy individuals, there are many free software tools out there that will help do the work for you!  

Simple shapes is all you need to place your furniture in the diagram!
Space planning diagram 2 - Dan Kalleres

Without going into detail on how to use different software programs, let’s put the focus back on the target – and that’s space planning. Let’s take a family room or living room as an example. There are many factors that should be looked at when trying to plan out the perfect furniture arrangement for a room. Make note of the following and the exact dimensions:

1. The room’s overall dimensions
2. Doors
3. Windows
4. Doorways/Openings
5. Permanent lighting (walls and/or ceiling locations)
6. Adjacent rooms (for the purpose of #7)
7. Natural foot traffic through the room

Once you have all the basics about your room, graph it out on paper. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it should be accurate (to scale) with the actual room. At this point, you should have a blank room with windows, doors, doorways and such mapped out, but no furniture (see diagram 1 above). Make a dotted line or draw footprint shapes in pencil showing the natural flow of traffic. You can use a piece of tracing paper and lay it over your graph if you like. This will help tell you where you want to avoid placing furniture because it would alter the flow of traffic.

For every piece of furniture you would like to incorporate in your room, cut out a two-dimensional shape that represents it, such as a rectangle for a sofa, a circle for a round coffee table, etc. and you’ll move those around the room so you don’t have to move actual furniture yet (see diagram 2 above).

Make sure that your furniture doesn’t fall where a door needs to swing open. Think about where the permanent lighting is installed and try to work with that. For a dining room, that might mean making sure your table gets centered under the chandelier (or you may have to swag the light to match the furniture). Think about your windows. If the windows are higher up on the wall, it’s not much of an issue to place furniture under them, but if you have a large picture window, placing a sofa on that wall may not be the best choice.

Remember to float your furniture inside the room. Don’t shove all your pieces up against the wall. The room will feel smaller and colder if you do. Conversation space is important. There shouldn’t be more than a 10 foot distance between any two seating positions in the room or your guests will need to shout to hear each other.

Once you have your ideal room layout, take your graph and furniture placements into the room you are working on (if you haven’t been working there to begin with!) and visually ‘walk’ your changes from the paper to the actual room and see if anything stands out that needs correcting. If everything looks good, shift your furniture to match the design!

Don’t forget about the walls! Art and accessories play an important role in the overall look and feel of the room. If you move a sofa and you have a large-scale piece of art on the wall, it may need to be adjusted as well!

Having a diagram for your room can also be a valuable tool when shopping for new furniture. There’s nothing worse than purchasing a sofa in a showroom that ‘looks’ like it would fit fine, only to have it delivered and see that it’s way too big for your space! Measure any potential new piece of furniture and place it in your diagram before you buy and you may end up saving yourself a lot of aggravation.

If you have a home staging question or would like to share a staging tip, please let me know. Send me a photo of your home staging dilemma and I’ll be happy to help!

Home staging tip: When trying to determine what should stay in a room and what should go, mentally remove everything first and start with a blank slate. Then fill in the picture with the items that first follow the intended function of the room and see what you have space left to fill in without cluttering up the room. Too little in the room and it will feel cold – too much in the room and it will feel small.

For more info: If you are into architecture and design, try Google’s SketchUp software. It’s free, there are lots of video tutorials to help you get started and you can make 3D models of your rooms or even your entire house!


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