24 November, 2007

Interior Design Article Part 7 - Furniture Placement Guidelines

Last time we learnt about What to Look for in Home Finishes, today we will learn about Furniture Placement Guidelines.

Now that we are progressing well into the field of decorating, and have a solid grasp on getting a design brief, brainstorming for a style, using color well, making fabrics work for you and what to look for in home finishes, we will look at how to place the furniture into you cleverly decorated room. The furniture placement will further enhance all your good work you have done so far.

I will show you how to place your furniture by telling you what not to do!!

The most common error in furniture placement is to place all the pieces around the walls, thinking that it will make the room look larger. Unfortunately this theory is incorrect, and it does exactly the opposite, it makes the room feel smaller and is less usable.

The next error is to group all the furniture around a focal piece, half right, except it is the television! Neglecting other features like a fireplace or a spectacular view.

A popular error for hoarders is to have so much furniture that they have to stuff it all into one space, less is best when it comes to design, we don't want to go back to the Victorian style of decorating.

This isn't really a placement error, rather a purchasing, make sure that the furniture is in proportion to the size of a room. A huge chunky sofa may be comfy, but if is the only thing that fits into the room, then it definitely is not in proportion. The same can be said for the heights of furniture, if you have a high stud then the space will look bigger automatically and you can have taller and more solid furniture. The other area here is that a large sofa and a small spindly side table will also look out of proportion, so think about how furniture will work together when you are purchasing or deciding which furniture to keep in your room if you are a hoarder!

So how do we go about making these spaces work?

Small Steps :

Decide what you are going to do in the space, ie read, watch tv, sleep, exercise, relax, converse, play.

Then work out what you need to achieve these tasks. (do this for every room) For example the living room - the most difficult as it has to be very flexible to accommodate a whole family. You will need to allow furniture for watching TV - sofas, chairs and coffee table or side tables (to hold the remote controls obviously!), chairs, playing computer games - desk, office chairs, reading quietly - armchair with accompanying side table and lamp, play are for the small children - bean bags, cushions, toy chest, bookshelf. Do you start to see what we are trying to achieve?

Next step - if you can draught, you can plan out on paper how you
are going to fit all this furniture in, remembering to look at where people come and go from the room, you don't want them walking in front of the television every time they need to leave the room, orientate the furniture in another direction. If you can't draught, don't worry, good old graph paper will do, measure the size of the room, layout out the overall space on the paper, then measure the furniture and on another piece of graph paper, measure and draw using the graph paper to help you, a rough shape of the furniture, then cut them out and you can start placing them in the room. This is much easier than literally pushing the furniture around the room yourself. This way you can explore the numerous options until you feel that the space works.

Some tips:

Group sofas, chairs parallel to each other if you are wanting people to converse, in general keep you furniture parallel to the walls, this is the most pleasing on the eye. You can get away with angling a chair in a corner but apart from that parallel to the walls is best.

Define a specific area with a change in floor coverings, ie a rug under a dinging table, under a sofa and chairs, or as a way to protect your carpet and define where the children play in an area.

Keep all your electrical equipment in one area, TVs, Stereo, Video, DVD etc, this way it reduces the cables lying around on the floor, if possible use an entertainment unit and it can also store all your cds, dvds and videos out of sight, this makes a huge difference in a living room. If you are able, get your speakers wired into the walls and ceiling, this way you won't have to see them on the walls or on the floor.

Think about how you want to create the mood in the room, lighting is where I'm going here. It is great to have your general lighting from the light switch, but to create different moods and effects, don't overlook the power of lamps, there are so many types available now that there is no excuse not to be able to find some to suit your scheme, some are sculptural, some are slim and almost invisible, others have the traditional lamp base and shade.

What they all do is create an extra zing to the room, and this will show off all the hard work you have done.

Where do you place them? Tall up light lamps look best in corners as they make the room look larger, small lamps work best on side tables next to chairs or sofas, as they provide light for you to read or do handiwork with, sculptural lamps can become a focal point, so they can go anywhere.

Focal points, I think I have overlooked explaining this and it is very important for furniture placement. Every room should have a focal point, this is how we succeed in decorating and design. We have something attractive that immediately draws the eye into the room and makes you want to be there. Some people are lucky and have an ever changing view from a window that does this naturally, but most of us have to work at it.

The most common ways to achieve a focal point is with the use of a piece of artwork be it sculptural or a painting. Other ways include a large decorative mirror, a fireplace, using a change in wall color with a feature wall, using a change in texture with a wallpaper or fabric to draw your eye. Sometimes a piece of furniture or a rug can be a focal point, but they aren't usually as obvious because you eye has to look down to see these, the best place for a focal point is at eye level. Don't forget to highlight the focal point with lighting.

Use these guidelines to work with the other rooms in the house.

Architectaria - Architect and Planners

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