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Looking at an empty room and imagining how it will look when it’s fully furnished takes skill. But you don’t have to be an interior designer to achieve a look you love. Just follow the simple steps in this space planning guide to transform your empty space into your ideal room.
Start by Defining Your Space
Grab a pen and paper. Then, measure your walls and mark locations of windows, doors, the fireplace and any built-in features like bookcases, cabinets, counters, or steps. Also, note the location of light switches and wall plugs.
If you’re comfortable with using an online tool, do a Google search for online space planners and use one of the many free options. When you have your room measured out, your graph will serve as your canvas.
Next, measure your existing furniture and make cutouts of major pieces — sofas, chairs, coffee table, dining table, desk, beds, and dressers – depending on which room arrangement you are tackling. If you’re planning to shop for furniture, you can use your room diagram as a basis to help you determine what size furniture to look for.
Consider Focal Points and Traffic Lanes
Bedrooms usually only have a single doorway, but other rooms may have multiple openings, doors, and windows. Before you begin placing the furniture, you’ll want to take note of the “natural” walkways in each space.
Try to anticipate how people will walk through the room and take a look at sight lines. For example, you could make a mental note of what will be visible as you sit on the sofa. A fireplace is a natural focal point, but if your room will be used primarily for TV viewing, the fire should be secondary. Use common sense with planning your arrangement and let it reflect the way you live.
Remember These Basic Design Principles
As you plan out your room, take inventory of your room’s architectural features, analyzing its strong points and be aware of any flaws. Also, strongly consider the functionality of your space. Is it meant to be a room that can serve as a duel family space and in-home office? Are you looking to create a master suite oasis? Define what you want your space to be, and use that definition to guide your furniture and décor decisions.
For example, in a family room used by both adults and children, try to leave some open floor space, but don’t push all the furniture up against the walls. Instead, consider placing a game table in the corner to create a separate hangout or homework space.
Plan for New Furniture
Many furniture stores offer online space planning tools that let you define the dimensions of your room, then pull furniture from their virtual showroom and place it so you can see how it will fit in your space. Some of the tools even have an app that will take a first-person photo of the space and will show you what it looks like from any angle.
Take advantage of these free tools! Being able to “see” what your room will look like is exceptionally valuable when you’re looking to invest in your space.
Improve Space Planning with Organization
A well-planned space won't look good if it's a mess. Optimize your space planning practices by keeping your room nice and tidy. Here are some tips.
Tackle Categories, Not Rooms
It’s common to start an organizing project by focusing on one room at a time. But, as organizing guru Marie Kondo notes in her book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” it’s more efficient to start by focusing on individual categories.
When you organize by room, you end up organizing the same things over and over, as many people keep the same objects in different spaces. Instead of tackling your bedroom first, decide to organize bed linens or clothing. Instead of taking on the kitchen, decide to tackle cleaning or pantry products.
Get Rid of Things You Don’t Use
You can’t have a well-planned home if your home if filled with clutter. That’s why getting rid of stuff you don’t use is crucial if you want to be organized.
When you look at an item, ask yourself when you used it last, if you plan to use it soon (as in within the next year), and if you even like it. If you haven’t used something, don’t plan to use it, and don’t like it, donate it, recycle it, or discard it. It shouldn’t be in your home.
Store Items in Places that make sense
It’s easier to keep your home clean and organized if you choose homes for your items that makes them easy to put away. For example, store your plates, cutlery, and glasses by the dishwasher, so you have an easier time unloading it. Keep your shoes and keys by the front door and the remotes by the TV.
Be Diligent About Keeping Out Clutter
Organizing isn’t a “one-and-done” type of project — it’s an ongoing process. As new items will come into your home, they need to be sorted. Older items will wear out and need to be cleared out. Make a “date” with yourself every few months or so to review your stuff, to clear out new clutter, and to keep your home looking neat and tidy.
When everything you own has its own home, you can finally get to enjoy the place you call home!
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