How to Plan the Layout of a Room


Arranging furniture creates an opportunity to bring a living space to life--or add new life to a room. When you develop the layout of a room, consider both the utility and decorative aspects. In decorating, as in getting dressed to go out, follow the old maxim of removing one accessory before you're finished. Benefit from some interior decorating guidelines for planning the room's layout. Setting up a floor plan in advance results in a more harmonious and comfortable room--and avoids the frustrations of having to move a heavy piece that's blocking a light switch or door swing.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring Tape
  • Grid paper
  • Gum eraser
  • An assistant
  • Draw a floor plan on grid paper. Note the location of doors and windows, cable, phone and power outlets, lights, light switches and any features that jut out into the room and affect the floor space, such as a fireplace, irregular wall, pillar, radiator, pipes, etc. Note the locations of air conditioning and heating vents that might affect the placement of furniture.

  • List the uses of the room and any furnishings and accessories you want to include in its layout. For example, the layout for a child's bedroom may include a twin bed, chest of drawers, bookcase, desk, chair and wastebasket. List any optional items you want to include if there's room, such as a beanbag chair.

  • Measure the furniture. Note the height, width and depth of each item for the room.

  • Draw the furniture and any large accessories--such as potted plants, magazine racks, media storage towers--on grid paper. For example, to create a scale layout with each small square representing 1 foot, draw a 4-by-1-foot sofa table using one row of 4 squares. Alternatively, print furniture cutouts from a furniture or interior design website.

  • Arrange the furniture on grid paper to try out different ways to lay out the room. Start with the largest piece of furniture. For example, try layouts with the head of the bed between two windows, with the head of the bed on the opposite wall, with one side of the bed against the wall as a daybed. Notice how the different bed positions affect floor space, walkways and wall space for other furniture.

  • Add the other priority pieces of furniture once you've selected an effective position for the largest piece.

  • Arrange the accessory and optional items in the room's layout. For example, center a nightstand in reach of the bed beneath the window. Center a desk on the blank wall and arrange the wastebasket on one side of it and the bookcase on the other. Slide the desk chair in at the desk. If the bean bag would be in the way of walkways, put it in the closet for occasional use.

Tips & Warnings

  • Strive to keep 30 inches clearance for walkways. Check that furniture doesn't obstruct the path to the doors, closet or bathroom and that it's possible to get to windows, outlets and light switches to use them.

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  • Photo Credit house plan image by Jon Le-Bon from
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