Breathing Room: Creating a Floor Plan…..

I am excited to have Kelly back with us for another installment of Breathing Room.  We have missed her wit and often times pointed (and always funny) quips about life and design around here but we know she left us for good reason — Miss Kelly had a beautiful baby girl …..

Kelly Baby

Honestly, if you had that bundle of adorableness greeting you every day versus me, wouldn’t you bail on writing for a few months as well?  Somehow Kelly tore herself away and wrote this great post on the tools out there to help you plan your space ….

As promised, this will be the first post on the tools and methods commonly used to properly plan a space using my nursery as an example.

There are a large variety of options available to create a space plan.  My personal choice is to use a powerful professional application called Revit (or its “parent” program, AutoCAD).  Courtney recently included a great roundup of other programs/applications that make it easy to put together a space plan.

But you don’t need fancy applications to draw a simple floor plan.  The easiest way to plan a space is to put pen to paper.  “Officially,” there are proper techniques, symbols, and methods to draw a space, but most people don’t need to worry about those issues to create a helpful floor plan.  Your goal should be to create a fairly accurate floor plan that will allow you to envision the space and place furniture in it.

To get started, you first need to roughly draw the shape of a room.  I like to include doors and windows in this initial phase and try to guesstimate the approximate distance between them.  Don’t worry if your drawing is off, you’ll be much more focused on the actual lengths that you measured and will redraw it to be more accurate.


Here is an example of a quick sketch of my nursery.  It doesn’t have to be perfect.  (I am a nursing Mom, I don’t have the time for perfection!)  You’ll tweak it once you have the measurements.

The next step is to measure the walls in the room.  Depending on the purpose of the floor plan, you should also take measurements of the distance between windows, doors, and walls.


I’ve added the measurements to the quick sketch.  Often, I’ll have to go back and get additional measurements that I didn’t think that I needed and will add them to the final product.

After measuring the walls, you need to convert these measurements to paper by using some scale.  The most common scales are ¼” or ½” but depending on the tools you have available, you can use whatever scale you want as long as you are consistent in applying it to all measurements.  I won’t go into all the details here but the easiest way to accomplish this is to use graph paper and start with the longest wall to determine the scale on the paper.


Here is the final floor plan for the nursery.  I used a computer program for this but have previously used paper and a ruler with a scale to create the same image.  This floor plan is drawn to ¼” scale.

At this point, you have a working floor plan!  You can now take any furniture or other moveable goods, put them to the scale, and place in the floor plan.  Depending on your comfort with the process, you can draw the furniture directly on the floor plan or you can cut them out (on another piece of paper) and move them around the floor plan until you figure out where everything will go.

Floorplan 2

By doing this, you guarantee that these pieces will fit into the room.  It’s important to remember that even when things look great on a space plan, the space can sometimes feel a little more crowded once the items are in the room and you may still need to tweak the placement of some items.   But this process will provide you with more information for the type of items that will fit and you should have fewer concerns.

Good luck with your next space!  I would love to see how this process worked for you.

Thank you Kelly for a pretty straight forward approach to creating a floor plan.  I will continue to preach to the high heavens — creating a floor plan will save you time, money and your sanity at the end of the day when doing a room design.  It is worth the extra effort…unless you enjoy pulling your hair out.  But then you may be that small portion of people who look good bald and have a nicely shaped head.  Then by all means continues.

[photo credit: kelly finley]

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Breathing Room with Kelly…..

I am excited to have fellow designer, Kelly Finley, back for her regular “Breathing Room” series where she discusses space planning and design.  However, I am even more excited to officially say congratulations to Kelly and her husband on the birth of their beautiful daughter!  This month, Kelly uses one of her recent projects to explain some of the spacial concepts she introduced in her first column …..

For the next installment discussing space planning, I thought it would be helpful to look at one of my actual projects to begin to understand how the space planning process works.  So before we get into the nitty-gritty of space planning, i.e. the mechanics and tools needed to properly plan a space, let’s discuss an office space that had a few space challenges.

In this project, my client bought a townhouse that was previously used as the model for potential buyers.  The developer turned one of the bedrooms into a gym with a full wall of mirrors.  My client didn’t need a gym or a wall full of mirrors (or at least that’s what she said J) but she did need a home office.  Interestingly, the mirrored wall was the least of our concerns as the desk placement turned out to be more of an issue when designing the space.  (We decided it would be too costly to remove the mirrors and fix the dry wall so we came up with a plan to cover it.)

chen-office-before chen-office-before 2

As you can see from the before pictures, the mirrored wall was the only wall without any obstructions or openings.  The wall with windows was the longest one in the room but the view was of the street in the townhouse community plus there were restrictions because we needed to be concerned with leaving enough space for the entry into the room.  The other walls were either too short because of the closet or door openings.

The only direction I received from my client was that she needed as much desk space as possible.  After touring the rest of the house, I noticed a comfy antique chair that previously belonged to her grandfather that I thought would be great in the space.  With this information in hand, I drafted several space plans to show her the different options available.

option1 floor plan

For the first option, I went with a typical (legal) office setup.  I placed a regular size desk in the middle of the room but created space for a custom built-in along the back wall that would provide extra work space as well as much needed storage.  Additionally, this option would allow us to block the majority of the mirrored wall while benefiting from the mirrors effect of making the space look larger.  We decided not to go with this option because I was concerned about the walkway into the bathroom with the desk in the middle of the room and the chair in the corner.

option2 floor plan

In the second option, I moved the desk to the window wall and kept the built-in.  This option would keep the center of the room open and therefore give more space for the chair and the walkway.  However, I thought the room looked awkward.  Plus the likelihood of her using the built-in cabinets while sitting at the desk was slim and therefore her overall desk space was limited.

option 3 floor plan

The third option included an L-shaped desk in the corner of the room while converting the closet to storage space.  This option was essentially a variation of the second option but created a better flow and was more visually appealing.

My client went for the third option which satisfied her need for desk space and my need to ensure that there was adequate flow around the room.  We initially planned to create a custom desk to make sure to maximize the workspace but we found a desk that was the right size (not quite as large as the initial design but still sufficient) as well as being modern.  After this discover, the space came together beautifully and my client has been happily working in her new space.

Closet_JoyStreet Desk_JoyStreet

I’ll be back next month to discuss the most common methods and tools used to properly plan a space.  Be sure to send any questions to Courtney and I’ll try to work them into a future post.

Thank you Kelly!  It is always so interesting to see where different designers go with a space especially when it’s so different from what you originally envisioned.  You can find more of Kelly’s work on her blog, Joy of Design.

Check me out on PinterestFacebookTwitter and Insta.gram for more musings on design, food and just plain randomness.  You can also find me at my online shop for Joy & Revelry.  

New Series: “Breathing Room” With Kelly…..

Space planning is essential when it comes to creating an inviting space.  However, I think many people are thwarted when it comes to furniture placement.  Awkward layouts thanks to lack of walls, window placement or the odd angle can make creating the perfect space challenging if not frustrating.  It’s one of the top things I know clients ask of most designers, so I thought it would be fun to bring in my friend and fellow designer, Kelly,  on a monthly basis to answer questions and give her take on the perfect layout of rooms to giving you the breathing space you desire…….

I’m Kelly Finley, an interior design/owner of Joy Street Design and the author of Joy of Design blog.  I’m very excited that Courtney has invited me over to discuss how to properly plan a space. One of my favorite parts of any interior design project is designing the furniture layout and planning the space.  I believe that space planning is the most important part of any project and should always be done before purchasing any furniture or making any final decisions on the layout of the space. 



So what exactly do I mean when I say space planning.  In a formal sense, space planning is the act of creating a layout of furnishings and items in response to and coordinated with the physical space of a structure while performing an analysis of design and spatial requirements for the occupants.  In normal words, space planning is the exercise of ensuring that the required furniture and other elements in a room are properly scaled and positioned to ensure a proper flow for the occupants.  This process is critical at the beginning of a project to ensure that future purchases will work in the space. A well-designed space provides comfort and harmony to a room.

Before studying interior design, I don’t think I ever specifically thought about space planning in the traditional sense.  When setting up the rooms in my house, like most homeowners, I didn’t think about the proper amount of space between the chair and the table or the proper height of a side table.  I saw furniture that I liked and “eyeballed” it to determine if I thought it would look good in the space. We’ve all been there – we order a piece of furniture and then we get it into the house and it’s entirely too big or too small.  It looked perfect in the store but now it’s completely useless or overbearing in the space that we need.  (The idea that the item won’t fit into the space through the entry door is an entirely different post about planning for the space but, unfortunately, I’ve been in that situation too. )

Joy Street Room

However, the more I think about this, the more I realize that this attitude that I didn’t previously think about space planning may be simplifying it too much.  When buying any furniture, we all clearly think about the distance between the furniture and whether the table is entirely too small for the sofa chair.  Indeed, I believe that every time you walk into a room, you are judging whether the space was planned correctly even if it’s not by official space planning terms. 

Floorplan 2

The difference between a professional and an amateur is taking the time to officially put the space plan down on paper ensuring that you make more informed decisions and hopefully fewer mistakes when shopping in the store.   This process of creating a space plan also provides you with new options that you hadn’t previously considered or solidifying that your initial plan is the proper one.  Through future posts, I’ll provide different methods of planning a space along with examples and actual projects to show the process in action.  Hopefully this series will provide you with a few tricks and tips to make your space planning much more effective and useful when you don’t have a professional to help. 

Thanks Courtney for inviting me over!

I am excited to have Kelly on board the team and am looking forward to fielding questions you all on the topic.  If you  have a question that you think Kelly can answer about space planning, send your question and pictures to lifeoutloud[at]!

[photo credit: Joy Street Design]

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