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4 Key Space-Planning Considerations

Space planning sounds simple, doesn't it? Throw a sofa here, build a cabinet there and make sure everyone has enough room to walk around — voilà! A new living room. Of course, that's not quite how it works. Successfully planning out the rooms in a house requires considering a variety of tangibles: function, physical limitations, size, furniture and flow, to name a few. Before you start planning your next remodel or redesign, consider the following from four Houzz designers.
1. Determine function. Think carefully about what you want your new room to do and who will be using it. Ask yourself what will be required of the space. Will you be hosting events there? How many people should it hold? What are you and your family's limitations due to height, age and physical ability? Consider the ages of those in your household — how durable and accessible does everything need to be?

Think about all the activities you'll be doing in the room — from paying bills to having family talks. "The more questions you ask and honestly answer will help you to ensure the space is planned properly and will function, as well as be aesthetically pleasing," says designer Marie Hebson. "Each individual prioritizes things differently. Be honest with yourself. Be flexible if you need to, so that your room can grow with your family."
2. Get precise measurements. While some may yawn over a designer's range of measurements, they're critical. Accuracy is vital when planning a space, particularly when you're drawing up an initial plan, so get your measurements right. Draw a floor plan of your existing space, carefully measuring each detail. According to Hebson, designers often work within a defined range of measurements for furniture and fixtures, because those can help prevent potential problems that come with searching for the ideal product. "By having a parameter, you can widen your search to find the perfect fit both proportionately and aesthetically," Hebson says.

"Measurements are extremely important to ensure a space is functional and efficient," says designer Susan Lund. "They need to be especially precise when planning kitchens, bathrooms and dining rooms, where you need to have adequate clearance between furniture, cabinetry, appliances and plumbing fixtures."

"If you don't allocate the right amount for walking, working or storage, you're left with a beautiful space that functions horribly," says designer Robin Rigby Fisher. Pay attention to the minimums and maximums that your space provides, and how they will enable the room's assigned functions.
3. Consider ergonomics. "The furniture style follows the function," says Rigby. Once you've determined your room's function and the amount of space available, you can start figuring out what furniture will work best. While function and space are important, you don't want to forget about comfort either. Ask the same questions about your existing or future furniture that you're asking about the space itself. What can you do to improve your furniture's support or comfort level?

"When you talk about ergonomics, just think about what actions you are going to do in your room or home," advises Hebson. "Try making those movements and observe what keeps you from being comfortable. One by one, eliminate all the disturbing factors that cause the inconvenience."

This is particularly important in multipurpose and high-function spaces, such as offices and kitchens, where repetitive-motion injuries, strain and stress can happen easily. "Ergonomics in today's society is so critical, because it reflects a lifestyle that many people are trying to attain," says designer David Arduini of 3sixty Space Planning Design.
4. Make your home flow. Your new room needs to have a space plan that flows not only within itself, but also with the other rooms in your house. "Organizational flow helps you find the way in your house," says Hebson.

Flow from one space to another takes function into account (for instance, keeping your kitchen close to the dining room), but also considers materials and color. A continuity of materials and color from room to room — furniture, flooring, millwork, baseboards and interior doors — will allow your home to flow visually, too.

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