Better Living: Assessing the Space

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Practical Planning:   


Although a designer will always be aware of the aesthetics and holistic aspects of any space being planned, function and practicality are the other obvious priorities. An area must be designed and planned for a particular purpose or set of purpose and must cater for the needs and activities of the people occupying that space, with special attention given to any physically challenged users.


Circulation through a space is a crucial aspect of a design and a designer working on a restaurant, for example, might generate a traffic- flow plan to ensure that staff and guests can move about the space in comfort and safety, from entrance to tables, from kitchen to tables, from table to cloakrooms, and so on. In all planning, sufficient space needs to be allowed around furniture, and opening of drawers, windows and cupboard doors or the positioning of door swings would all be considered as part of the process.


Storage plays a key part in all our lives and the designer has to plan this out with precision to ensure that everything required can be accommodated with maximum efficiency and ease of access. Safety in interiors is also a planning priority and common sense dictates that designer/user should take particular care where children or elderly people are concerned.


The practical planning is followed with measuring and documenting phase. In which you start turning your thoughts and ideas into physical and real application.



Measuring and Documenting 


The floor plan you devise should be easy to understand, so include the basic outline of the room with the actual measurements written on it. What you want to show is the floor space, doors and windows, pipe and electric wiring runs, and how things are arranged. Getting the measurements right is crucial decide on the scale of your drawing. Remember whether you‘ve chosen meters or feet to work in, and stick to what you‘ve chosen.    “Don‘t aim for perfection”.


A fairly rough sketch is all you need as long as the measurements are correct. First get the dimensions right and draw the space as you find it then make several copies of the drawing and use it as a basis for working out how you want to change it. You can make as many drawings as you like and may do several before you begin to find the right answer.


When actually creating your plan, don‘t place furniture where it will get in the way of spaces needed to open doors and windows, or to pull out chairs for sitting. If furniture has drawers or doors that need space to open, make sure there is room to do this. Mark the flow of movement through a room and check that you’re placing of furniture does not interrupt this flow.




You will need:


  • A good retractable tape measure 


  • An A4 pad of squared (graph) paper


  • An A4 pad of tracing paper


  • Pencils and an eraser


  • Colored felt – tip pens to mark pipes and wiring


  • A  notebook


  • Masking tape


  • Ruler 


  • Possibly a second person to help hold the tape measure



How to define your space?


Drawing a plan


Most homeowners don‘t know the dimensions of their rooms and base their decisions on an imagined, idealized size and shape. However, it is invaluable to know exactly what you are dealing with when choosing furniture. Estate agents will give measurements but these are not always accurate, so it‘s safer to check them for yourself be aware that narrow staircases may not allow a double bed or a three-seat sofa to go up them if either dimension of a room is less than 3m, designers classify it as small. If either dimension is greater than 9m that is considered large, and the best use would be to divide it into smaller areas. This is ideal if you want it to double up as a work room or a dining room a plan is invaluable when working out how furniture, cupboards, and appliances will fit in to create practical, pleasant spaces.


If you are designing the arrangement of a small bedroom there may be little leeway or room for maneuver by the time you‘ve fitted in a bed and some clothes storage, plus a small table, you may think there will be no room for anything else. However, if you work things out to scale on graph paper you may find you can organize things differently (without having to move heavy furniture around).


A plan is even more important when designing a complicated kitchen. Remember that you need space to be able to bend down to get things out of low cupboards that chairs have to be pulled away from the table or desk so you can sit down, and that appliances have doors that can be awkward to open in a small space. If your plan leads you to think you‘d like to alter the space itself, to pull down a wall to make a large space out of two small ones or change the sitting of a bathroom, you must check with the building owners or relevant authorities.


There are regulations to ensure that a so- called ‘habitable’ room has natural light and adequate ventilation rooms without windows can only be used as non-habitable (i.e. storage, bathroom or service areas). You cannot add a window if it will look out onto an adjoining home. If you intend to do any major work, seek professional advice first.








Make copies of the drawing and use it as a basis for working out what to change. You may do several before you find the right solution.


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