Creating that dream room in your home is more than just selecting pretty furniture and filling the space with items. Crafting a workable layout is an art that involves balancing visual weight while meeting functional needs. Thinking ahead of time to carefully curate the right pieces of furniture that fit perfectly in the space and arranging them harmoniously is key.
To help with this, here are my top five tips to help you create a balanced, harmonious, and functional space.
Step 1: Identify or create your focal point
The focal point is usually the first visual that grabs your attention when you enter the room. It could be a beautifully arched window, a fireplace, or a gallery wall. The key to making a space work is to be able to design around your focal point. If your room does not have architectural features that serve as a natural focal point, you can create one. Once you have identified or created your focal point it will be easier to select and arrange furniture pieces in a way that accentuates this point of interest.
Step 2: Stay clear of windows and doorways
To maximize the amount of space you are using, it is very tempting to place furniture in front of your windows and doorways. However, doing so actually reduces the appearance of space in your room. If you are lucky enough to have a window in your space, it is best to optimize the amount of natural lighting in the space by keeping the window area clear of any furniture. The more natural light that comes in, the bigger your space will appear to the eye. It will also make opening and closing windows a lot easier when you do not have to climb over a sofa or bed to do so. Last but not least, natural lighting is incredibly good for your mental health and well-being.
Furniture around doorways should also be kept to a minimal to create an inviting and welcoming atmosphere. Swing doors should be able to open to a full 90-degree angle and if possible, resist placing items behind the door that might be damaged by the door swinging open. In addition to the swing space for a door, you will want to add another 36 inches of uncluttered space in front of the opening so that the room looks open and uncluttered. Lastly, you will want to avoid placing tall or large items away from doorways to keep sight lines clear.
Step 3: Consider traffic flow
Consider the natural flow of the room. Furniture should be placed to facilitate natural flow of traffic “lanes” that allow people to travel within the room comfortably. Traffic “lanes” should be a minimum of 24 inches wide, however, if there are people in the home that use a wheelchair, walker or other mobility device, lanes should be wider.
Step 4: Consider clearance space for chairs and drawers
Chairs should be spaced at least 12 inches apart for comfort. Think about the amount of elbow space one would need to eat comfortably with utensils. Also consider the amount of space required for people to walk behind chairs while someone else is sitting in it. For this purpose, depending on the size of your chair, you will want at least 4 feet between the end of your dining table or your kitchen island to the wall. Any furniture you have with swing doors, and drawers will also require sufficient space to fully open and close.
Step 5: Balance your furniture
To ensure that furniture pieces are arranged in a way that are visually balanced, divide your room layout into four roughly equal-sized quadrants. If your space is an open concept layout, include all the other spaces within the room layout. For instance, if your kitchen is open to the living and dining room, you will want to consider balancing your furniture with all the cabinetry in your kitchen. You will want to balance the “heaviness” of the kitchen cabinetry which is in one quadrant of your room with other furniture that is of equal weight on the opposite quadrant of your room (e.g., a large sectional). Try to balance furniture across all four quadrants and consider the visual weight that natural architectural elements of the space also contribute to the room (e.g., windows, doorways, fireplaces etc).
…and there you have it. I hope these five tips will help you create your dream space with a layout that will be both beautiful and practical so that you and your loved ones can enjoy it for many years to come.