How to Plan for your Home Design


Identifying key requirements

When assessing requirements, it is helpful to divide them up into two sections -practicalities and aesthetic. You should then look at these in light of your budgetary considerations.

Take your time compiling these lists, as getting things right at the outset can save a great deal of effort, upheaval and expense later on.

Under the practicalities heading consider whether any work needs doing on the essential structure of your home: heating, lighting, plumbing, soundproofing (for example, double glazing) and insulation. Then make a list of any repairs that are required. Once all of these elements have been taken into consideration you can move on to thinking about what you need to make the room work for you, either as an individual or as part of a family.

Home Design

Among the aesthetic requirements you may want to consider is the overall style that you might like and whether this affects any existing features. Consider in detail the lighting, surface finishes, flooring, fabrics, patterns, furniture and colour. Also think about storage, and whether you would like a clutter-free look or if you like to be surrounded by some of your possessions.

When your lists are complete you can get quotes for any work which requires a professional, such as plumbing or electrical wiring, then work out the rough costs of decorating materials and any new furniture you may want. When you have all the figures look at them in relation to your budget. Now is the time to revise your plans if they go over budget – once work starts any changes will be costly and, inevitably, extra costs are bound to be incurred as work progresses.

Design and function

As one of the most famous architects of the twentieth century, Le Corbusier, said: ‘A house is a machine for living in.’ In other words, however beautiful it looks, if it is impractical or uncomfortable you will never feel truly relaxed or at home in it. It must work smoothly and logically.

Of all the rooms in the house this is especially true of the kitchen, where ergonomics are especially important. Research has shown that while a cook prepares food he or she moves constantly between the cooker, fridge and sink. It follows, therefore, that if these items are arranged in easily reachable positions the effort involved in cooking is considerably lessened. The optimum arrangement is that of a triangle, with the cooker, fridge and sink all sitting in one corner.

Like most rooms in the house, a kitchen performs more than one function. It is now not just a place where food is prepared, but a social centre too, and this social aspect should not be neglected.

While working out how a room is used is especially vital for a kitchen or bathroom, it is no less important for any other part of the house. The function of a room will determine your approach to decoration, and will also have a bearing on how people move around that room. This movement of people around a room is referred to as circulation, and getting the circulation plan right will help your home run smoothly and happily. For example, when organizing the furniture in the living room, try to avoid a layout that means that anyone walking into the room to sit down has to cross in front of the television, so interrupting others’ viewing. Also beware of positioning sofas or tables where you will have to squeeze past them to open and close the curtains or to switch on lamps. This will soon become a source of enormous irritation.

Making a sample board

Long before you embark on decorating or even deciding upon a scheme, start collecting anything and everything that might provide inspiration or help you crystallize your likes and dislikes.

These items could range from photographs torn out of magazines to scraps of material, an objet trouve, such as a shell or pebble from the beach, or even a piece of pottery which suggests a colour or an atmosphere. Try to carry a small notebook and pen with you, so that you can jot down ideas as they come to you. You may, for example, be wandering around a department store and be struck by some display.

Store your finds in a big box and, once you feel you have enough, spread them out and examine them carefully. You are likely to find certain colours, styles or themes predominate. These will help you decide upon a look for the room.

Using swatches and samples

Once you have worked out what sort of overall look you are aiming for, then start putting together a sample board. This will allow you to make your imagined look a reality.

You will need a good selection of paint colour cards (handpainted ones are always more accurate than the printed versions), wallpaper samples, fabric swatches and pieces of carpet. Take photographs of any rugs or items of furniture that have caught your eye that you already possess, as well as of the room seen from different angles and at different times of day – preferably empty of furniture.

To work out which material, paper or paint will look good and where, do not simply try to imagine it in place, but actually stick or pin your sample up in situ. It is impossible to make any decision on colours simply by relying on the manufacturer’s tiny paint swatch, so paint A4 pieces of paper with your shortlist of possible colours and stick these on the wall.

Look at all your choices in different lights: first thing in the morning, at dusk, and under artificial light. See how they go together and, if something is not quite working carry on experimenting with different samples and combinations, until you hit upon the definitive mix that brings your ideas to life.

Measuring up

It is vital to draw up a scaled plan on graph paper of the room you are planning to decorate in order to work out required quantities of materials, such as paint, paper, carpets and so on, but more importantly to allow you to experiment with the room’s layout, for example where best to position the furniture.

Home Design

On your floor plan you should mark the width, length and height of the room, then draw in any fixed items such as doors (including the way they open), windows, fireplaces, alcoves, and radiators, finally adding electrical sockets, telephone and television points.

Accuracy is all important, especially if you intend to allow carpetfitters or curtain makers to work from your plan, so double-check every measurement carefully. Next cut out scale shapes of your furniture. By moving these shapes around you can work out the optimum layout and discover potential hitches, such as finding you do not have enough room to open the fridge when someone is sitting at the table.

Once you have decided on a potential layout, use a separate piece of tracing paper as an overlay on which to draw possible circulation plans.

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  4. How to Design Furniture in your Home
  5. How to Plan a Winning Home-Office

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About the Author: Jason Prickett loves to write about home maintenance and stuff you can do yourself instead of hiring any professional. His step by step guides will assist you in completing your home maintenance tasks.

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