How to Create a Floor Plan
I talked to you last week about my home office makeover and the 5 essential questions to ask yourself before you start on a project. Well today I’m going to talk about the next step in the design process: Creating a floor plan. After I have thought about what kind of space I have to work with and what I need to do to make the space work for me, I get the measurements of the space down on paper (or my computer). Yes I can do this pretty quickly and with fancy software because I do it all the time. But fancy software is not necessary. Creating a floor plan is not as hard as you think. You can easily do it on paper or electronically and I’m going to show you how to do both.
First of all, you might be asking, do I really need to create an accurate floor plan? Just sitting down with a piece of paper and pencil to sketch out the room is a great place to start. But to be honest, that’s not enough. You really need to have a proper floor plan with the correct measurements of the room and the furniture. It is the only way to clearly visualize the space and try out various layouts. For now you will add the existing furniture that you plan to keep, and as you continue the design process you can add in pieces you are considering to see if they fit. In the case of my home office, I really need to see how much space my desk takes up, where else it could potentially fit in the room and how much space is left once I take out the furniture I want to get rid of. I also want to accurately see if new furniture I’m thinking of buying will fit seamlessly into the space before I buy it.
No matter how you create your floor plan, the first thing you need is a good tape measure. Sketch the room on a piece of paper and then jot down the measurements, starting with the length and width of the room. Then add the furniture. Don’t forget the doors and windows. The furniture doesn’t have to be in the right position, you just want to get all the numbers down on the paper so you don’t have to go back and measure every time you want to add something to your floor plan as you create it.
Now let’s create an easy floor plan. I’ll start with the good old paper and pencil method.
Materials you will need: graph paper, pencil and eraser, a scale ruler.
Nice to have: colored paper, a set square (the triangle ruler)-it helps you draw straight lines and can be picked up anywhere they sell school supplies for a couple of Euros.
The scale ruler is the key to easily hand-drawing an accurate floor plan. Simply choose the scale by what will fit nicely on your paper. Write it down so you don’t forget which measurement you’re using because you have to use the same scale for all of the items on your floor plan. First draw your walls, windows and doors. What I suggest next is to draw the furniture on separate pieces of paper (white paper is fine, or use colored paper if you’ve got it.) Just do the furniture that you have decided to keep. I label the furniture pieces so I know what’s what (e.g. “White shelf” or “Kallex” as I know the Ikea name of the shelf). Then cut them out and set them on top of your drawing. This is a great way to try out different layouts. I often have an idea of where I want the main furniture to go, but I always try out various options. You’d be surprised how often I come up with a whole new layout that I end up going with, even when I was sure I would do something else.
Now let’s talk about creating a digital floor plan. If you are design and tech-oriented then you might know how to use fancy software like Auto CAD. But for everyone else, there are lots of easy and free tools to use on the internet to help you design a digital floor plan. Room Sketcher is one of these online tools and I was able to create a floor plan of my office in about 10 minutes having never used the software before and without even creating an account.
My office was pretty easy because it is square, but there are lots of templates of various shapes to choose from. You just adjust the size of the walls, add windows and doors, and then add the furniture that you have decided will stay. Because you’re doing a 2-D floor plan (overhead view) it doesn’t matter if you choose the exact furniture, it should just be the right shape. For example, I wanted to add in my white Ikea Kallex shelves but I couldn’t find anything that was similar under shelves in the furniture catalog. So I chose a white table, which is simply a rectangle shape from above, and then adjusted the dimensions to match my shelves. There is a good tutorial on Youtube for Room Sketcher to get you started.
What’s important about both the hand-drawn floor plan and the digital one is that you get a very clear idea of what the room looks like, how your furniture fits into it and what kind of space you have to add new furnishings. And best of all, you can move the furniture around to try out different set-ups. I think I’ve pretty much decided that my desk will go in the middle of the room, as seen in the digital floor plan above. But it’s really fun to try out every possible position where it will fit, and then consider if there is enough space to walk around, how the flow of the room will feel, etc.
Next I’ll start considering what I can add to this space, based on what I already know I need (figured that out when answering the 5 essential questions to ask before you start). Stay tuned for next’s week’s post in this series where I take you through the next steps of creating the look and feel of the room….