Start with a Floor Plan

It’s nearly impossible to determine the correct furniture size and placement for a room simply by looking at the room. An empty room distorts the space and gives zero reference points for furniture layout. Designers use this tool because it is essential to creating a well designed room, and it’s a tool that is accessible to almost everybody! It allows you to try different arrangements and ensures you buy the right size furniture. Sofa sizes range from 70″ to over 100″ (I totally made up those figures but it really is a huge range). Before you shop for furniture (the fun part!) measure out the space and create a floor plan (the not as fun part).


examples of average to large size living room furniture

Many furniture store websites offer a room planner such as Ikea, Pottery Barn, Ethan Allen, and Lane. There are also more professional programs available such as (you can make 1 free floor plan and they have a nice gallery for inspiration). If you plan to shop a particular store check their website for a room planner.

Floor Plan

this was done on Icovia Room Planner

So you’ve measured your room, and drawn it on a room planner program. Now what?

How to Make a Better Floor Plan

  1. Decide the correct direction for the room (focal point). For example, in a bedroom, the bed should face toward the door and not be on the same wall as the door.
  2. 3′ is the minimum walk space. Anywhere people will need to walk needs to be at least 3′. No exceptions.
  3. A bed in a master bedroom should have access on both sides, at least 3′. The only time the side of a bed can be pushed against a wall is in kids rooms, college rooms and the occasional small guest room.
  4. Always consider the access to the furniture. Having to walk ALL the way around the sofa, side table, chair and coffee table just to sit down on the sofa will drive you nuts. There should be a clear and logical path to the furniture.
  5. A rug should have at least one piece of furniture sitting on it, unless it’s a runner. Usually it’s the sofa, bed or dining table, but it doesn’t have to be.
  6. Don’t forget about storage. Bookcases, display cases, and shelves are all important pieces to remember.
  7. experiment with different size furniture. Sometimes making a piece a few inches larger or smaller makes a huge difference.

You’ve made the perfect floor plan, now make sure you stick to it. Print out the plan with the furniture dimensions and bring it with you on your shopping trips. The sales team at furniture stores should be able to show you the pieces that match the size you’re looking for. I don’t recommend trying to “make something fit” just because you like it in the store. If it doesn’t fit in your space you’ll end up hating it.

This is definitely not an inclusive list, but these are just some typical questions I get asked. What questions do you have?


One thought on “Start with a Floor Plan

  1. This is a great point about floor plans and really can make the whole process much less daunting and much more hassle free from start to finished room.

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