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Courtney's Corner: Creating floor plans

Courtney Lake is a Bay Area based interior design and the voice behind the lifestyle blog, Courtney Out Loud. A graduate of Stanford University, he worked in high-tech marketing and events before launching his successful interior design...

Plan & prep

Interior-design blogger Courtney Lake gives us tips and tricks for creating the perfect floor plan. With his app suggestions and examples, you'll save sweat and tears the next time you rearrange your furniture.

Sketch of living room

Photo credit: Courtney Lake

"If you don't know where you are going,

you'll end up someplace else."

― Yogi Berra

Bare floors, empty walls and naked windows are invitations for the imagination to run wild — and that is where the danger lies. Our imagination starts to fill in blank spaces with our proverbial wish list of furniture. A beautiful sectional gets neatly tucked into the corner of the room, while an oversized chandelier gets mentally hung in the center of the room for dramatic effect. Your existing coffee table gets placed in front of the sofa, and the wing-back chairs you inherited are now flanking the fireplace. Now the question becomes — does any of this actually fit the space?

Regardless of whether you are moving into a new home or refreshing the look of a room in your current home, drawing a furniture plan should be the first step. Spending a few hours detailing the specific dimensions of the room will save you from countless headaches and costly mistakes.

Should you be lucky enough to move into a newly constructed home, the builder may be able to provide scaled floor plans that you can use to make furniture plans. However, if you aren't that lucky, there are several free and low-cost options available to create quick-and-easy floor plans.

RoomScan

RoomScan app

Image source: iTunes

This iTunes application ($0.99) allows you to use your iPhone to measure rooms — including rooms with complex layouts, angled walls and sloping ceilings — simply by scanning the rooms with your camera. While not detailed, the program creates a usable set of dimensions for ensuring proper measurement for furniture placement.

mydeco 3D

mydeco.com

Image source: mydeco

Users can utilize this free program either by pulling existing room templates or inputting their own dimensions to create rooms. mydeco 3D has teamed up with multiple furniture and accessory manufacturers so users can see what a specific piece of furniture will look like in their space.

Autodesk Homestyler

Homestyler

Image source: Autodesk

From the makers of AutoCAD, Autodesk Homestyler is a free online tool that gives a large amount of flexibility to homeowners looking to create detailed floor plans. Those familiar with professional programs like AutoCAD or Revit will enjoy the level of freedom this program gives users for creating comprehensive drawings.

When creating your floor plan, be sure to include the following additional information:

  • Windowsill heights
  • Placement of electrical, phone and cable outlets
  • Heating vents
  • Door widths
  • Stair rail heights

Not only will this information prove useful when creating your furniture plan, but it will also ensure that whatever furniture you do end up purchasing will be able to make it into the room. More often than not, stores receive frantic calls from buyers who are in a state of panic because they didn't measure to confirm that their new sofa could fit up the stairs or through the door.

With a scaled floor plan in hand, now it's time to create a furniture plan — essentially a map of where you will place your furniture pieces in the room. Depending on the application used, you may be able to download into the system a scaled replica of your furniture. If not, there is no need to make elaborate replicas of the pieces — simple squares, rectangles and circles will do.

Be sure to play with the room's configuration — mix things up and try different layouts. As demonstrated below, playing with the same furniture pieces in different configurations can lead to rooms that feel drastically different.

Floor plan

Photo credit: Courtney Lake

Floor plan

Photo credit: Courtney Lake

Here are a few guidelines to follow when creating your furniture plan:

  • On average, you need 12 inches of space between a coffee table and a sofa.
  • Ideally, you should allow for three feet (36 inches) of space to be used as an aisle between two pieces of furniture or between a piece of furniture and a wall.
  • A rug looks best when it is given at least 12 inches of breathing space between itself and a wall.
  • To find the best distance for television viewing, use the industry standard, which calls for multiplying the TV screen's size in inches by 1.2 (minimum distance) to 1.9 (maximum distance) and then dividing the result by 12 to get the right number of feet. For instance, the best viewing distance from a 55-inch set would be anywhere from 5.5 feet to 8.7 feet.

Sketch of living room

Photo credit: Courtney Lake

By creating a detailed floor plan, you allow yourself the creative freedom to explore the maximum potential of a room while diminishing the chances of costly mistakes!

More great tips from Courtney

Courtney's Corner monthly column
Prepping your home for entertaining
Style-savvy tips for setting the perfect table

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