The Definitive Guide To Space Planning In Interior Design

Whether you are an expert interior designer or a homeowner interested in interior design, you have probably noticed that each project is different, but they all have some common principles. One of these principles is effective space planning.

Space planning is an important part of the interior design process and occurs during the very early stages of design. Read on to find out more about space planning interior design and expert tips on how to develop your skills to maximise your interior space.

What is Space Planning?

Space planning is a crucial element and one of the basic principles of interior design. It helps designers figure out the floor plan, assess the available space, furniture placement and traffic flow through the room.

The designer considers the space and draws up a plan that defines different zones, what will occur in each zone, and how people will move through the zones. The plan is completed by placing furniture in the correct locations.

Space planning is not about personal taste, but rather about the functionality of a room. It can be done for large spaces or small spaces and occurs in the early stage of interior design.

The following must be considered during space planning:

  • The type of space. Spaces in a home or office building can be social (such as the living and dining room), private areas (like bedrooms and bathrooms), workspaces (like a study or office) and storage (like closets and shelves). These categories will each have different activities occurring in them and require different furniture and layouts.
  • The use of the room. This should consider the storage requirements of the room, the amount of furniture that will be needed, how much surface area is required, and the lighting needs.
  • Traffic flow and circulation patterns. Space planning should include mapping out how foot traffic will move through a room. A small room will require more consideration as space is limited. This will affect the placement of furniture, interior walls, safety considerations, building regulations as well as where doors and windows are placed.
  • Multifunctional spaces. Modern homes often have open floorplans and as such, each room can have multiple uses. Your laundry room can be located in your bathroom, and your kitchen can double as your dining space. Designers must question how they will incorporate multiple functions into one room.
Photo by Pedro Miranda on Unsplash

Why Is Interior Space Planning Required?

Planning an interior space is critical to creating a functional but beautiful room. Rooms with a lot of movement and use should be carefully planned and mapped, while other rooms like guest bedrooms that see less action do not require such careful planning.

Rooms need to be functional, using the space available to create something that works. Space planning allows designers to define a room or zones within a room for its intended purpose. It ensures that the space is optimally used and avoids the inclusion of clutter and confusing room layouts.

Things To Consider During the Space Planning Process

1) Define the purpose of each room and the zones within each room

Before designers can start incorporating furniture and design elements, they must first identify the purpose of the room, as well as different zones within that room.

The homeowner must provide a clear idea of what the room’s primary purpose will be, whether it’s an indoor kitchen, outdoor kitchen, or a combination of both, and how much activity there will be in that room. Someone who cooks a lot will require a more functional kitchen than the occasional home chef. Someone with a lot of appliances will require more storage in the kitchen than someone who only uses a microwave to prepare meals.

Having a better understanding of the purpose of a room will make it easier to define different zones and plan the room properly.

2) Allow for an easy flow through the room

Circulation – or how people move through a room – should be a top priority. It is an important aspect of space planning, as a room is not functional if it is difficult to move through it.

Distances between items – like the stovetop and the drawers where pots are stored – should make sense, and furniture items should not hinder movement throughout the room.

3) Make the most of the lighting

Proper space planning must make use of available light. Whether natural light from windows or artificial lighting fixed to walls, space planning must ensure that a room has enough light.

Artificial lighting can be layered to create a warm atmosphere, while mirrors can be used to bounce natural light across a room.

4) Remain practical

Interior design is about more than just making a room look pretty. Interior designers must create rooms with a practical layout that is functional while still looking pleasant. A good design will include furniture that is practical while still keeping the client (or yourself) happy with the design choices.

5) Consider how it will all look

Although space planning mostly focuses on the practicality and functionality of a room, it must also consider the visual appeal. Rooms should be aesthetically pleasing to look at, as well as functional to live in.

Photo by Bailey Alexander on Unsplash

How to Create a Space Plan

The bubble diagram

The first step in space planning is to create what is known as a bubble diagram or plan. This is a very simple diagram which lists all the activities planned for a specific room, and how these activities are related to each other.

For example, if you are working with an open plan design, you may use different bubbles to indicate the kitchen, living space and dining area. You can then write down which activities will occur within each room, for example:

  • Living room:
    • Watching movies
    • Games night
    • Casual dinners on our laps

Creating a detailed plan to scale

Once the bubble plan is complete, it is time to draw up a detailed plan. This plan should be exactly to scale. You can use either a large piece of paper, or software on the computer.

Include all walls (even half walls), windows and doorways, as well as built-in features like bookshelves or fireplaces.

List all the items you want to include in the room, and create scaled cutouts (or scaled objects if you are using plugins) of all the items. Start arranging these items inside the space plan.

Take your time to consider how traffic will move through the room, and move the furniture pieces around until you are happy with the final outcome of your home design.

Final Thoughts

A space plan is the best way to get a proper feel for how a room will look and flow. Creating a space plan in the early stages of design is the best way to determine how functional a room will be.

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