What is Space Planning in Interior Design?
Space planning is a fundamental element of the interior design process. It starts with an in-depth analysis of how the space is to be used. The designer then draws up a plan that defines the zones of the space and the activities that will take place in those zones. The space plan will also define the circulation patterns that show how people will move through the space. The plan is finished by adding details of all the furniture, equipment and hardware placement.
13 Points to consider when deciding how to layout your room
- Think about the structure of the room, what are the main focal points? These could be windows, fireplaces, doors or built in units. Are they balanced in the room? If not, think about what you can add to the space to help balance the structure of the space. Remember that the human eye is drawn to focal points, and will scan a space when entering it.
- Perception of space is based on body size. Different size spaces suit different size people: one person’s claustrophobic box is another’s cosy nest.
- Think about the space in terms of volume, eg: if it were a fish bowl, if you add in a sofa, chandelier, sculptures, bookshelves, table, coffee table etc, you displace some of the water. Ensure that you don’t overfill the space.
- Aim to create both a prospect and a refuge in each room so you can feel enclosed, but also have a view beyond to the outside or natural world. Using Prospect and Refuge theory in a space can make it more comfortable for the human experience. “We prefer a shelter (refuge) with a view (prospect), because humans have their field of vision to the front (prospect), therefore needing some sort of protection from behind (refuge).”
- Plan your furniture with a scale drawing of your room or cut paper shapes to size and place them in the room to work out the best possible arrangement of furniture and accessories.
- Ensure that the circulation passageway through a room follows an easy and economic pathway from the door to all the other main activity areas.
- Clutter closes down space, so edit your clutter to avoid blocking both circulation and reducing the perceived size of a room.
- In large or long spaces, subdivide different activity zones to give definition to each part of the room.
- When planning decoration and lighting, work with the principles that vertical lines draw our eyes up and horizontal lines draw them across to extend or reduce the proportions of a room.
- Wallpaper with a square grid or tiling a room in squares will give the impression that it is bigger than it is – the smaller the grid, the larger the room appears.
- Borrow space from outside by ensuring an uninterrupted view of the outside world. You can also ‘borrow’ space from adjoining rooms by using the same flooring materials.
- When furnishing small rooms, blur the edges of the room to break up the lines between floor and walls; draw furniture a little way away from the walls; buy furniture in proportion to the room; choose furniture with legs to give the illusion of more space.
- Disguise oversized sofas by breaking up their upholstered surface with a different coloured or textured runner or folded throw.
Now that we know a little more about space planning, lets have a look at some questions that you need to ask yourself before creating a space plan for your own space.
Questions to ask yourself before creating your own Space Plan
- What are you going to be using the space for? Will it be multi-functional? Eg: living/dining or bedroom/study?
- How many people will be using the space and will they all be using it for the same purpose? Eg: A family might use the same room; someone may be watching TV, while another reads and another is working.
- Do you have any existing furniture that you want to use in the space?
- Can furniture be moved into or out of this room from other areas of the house?
- How do you want the room to feel, space-wise – open and airy, cozy, minimal, serene?
- How much natural light is available and what kinds of lighting will be needed?
- What are the focal points of the room and how can you take advantage of them?
- Do you need to create focal points?
- Do you like balance and symmetry, the unexpected, or a combination?
- Is there anything else on your wish list for this room?
These questions will highlight the problems that your space plan needs to solve. Think about these points when creating your space plan and try to find a solution that will work. You might find that you need to compromise on some of the points. That’s ok, you as the designer need to make the decisions that will make the space work best for the client, whether that’s you or someone else.
How to create a Space Plan
The Bubble Plan
The way that I like to start a space plan is by roughly drawing out a map of the space and creating a bubble plan. A bubble plan is a simple diagram that will show you what activities take place in the space and the relationship between these activities.
For example, in an open plan living area, you might have 3 or more bubbles, 1 showing the kitchen, the other showing the dining area and another showing the living area. Using bubbles will help you to define these spaces. When you are clear about where the activities are going to happen in the space then you can move on to creating a scale plan.
A detailed Scale Plan
Try to get as large a piece of paper as possible to make it easy. I suggest getting a large A1/A2 piece of card and some pencils to do this with. You can then erase any mistakes you might make. Draw your space to scale on the piece of paper. Include window, door, built in cupboards/shelves, fireplace and lighting placements. You want to be able to see all the fixtures and features on the plan.
Make a list of everything you would like to have in the space and create scaled paper cutouts for each piece. You can then start placing these scaled pieces of furniture onto your space plan. This will start to bring your space to life and show you how you will be able to use the room.
Spend some time moving pieces around, this will help you to think differently about the space. Come up with a plan, and then swop all the pieces around, see what this does to the flow of the room. Keep moving the pieces around until you ‘know’ which is right for the space.
If you are comfortable using a computer then have a look at my post, 5 Top Free Online Interior Design Planning Tools, where I show you 5 free to use online tools that will help you plan your space.