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Space Planning – How to Get Around

What is a functional floor plan?  You can’t think about the functionality of a floor plan without thinking about how the household functions on a day to day basis.

Each person in the family has a routine, habits of living and an individual energy level. Multiply the number of people in a household by all those factors and life could get messy. Building some safeguards into a floor plan reduces the headaches a family could encounter.


If you took the time to trace the trips throughout the home made in a day with a different colored marker for each person what do you think you would see? Would there be constant congestion in the kitchen? Would there be rooms never used? How about trips up and down stairs just to maintain the laundry? If you used time lapse photography, would you see a gradual build up of flotsam and jetsam accumulating in the family room, the entry, mudroom or around the kitchen table or the bathrooms? These would require more trips to clean and control repetitively but could cease to be a problem if proper storage or places to perform various tasks were planned in advance. Perhaps you would discover with the colored marker chart the difficulty of getting from point A to point B because of large pieces of furniture blocking a traffic pattern or a lack of passage ways or stairs.

boys snacking

When dealing with the energy of a household – and we don’t mean the energy output of appliances – even more factors need to be considered to keep some semblance of peace and tranquility. For instance, puppies and toddlers need supervision and need to be in an area close by a caregiver. Both toddlers and puppies are accompanied by lots of STUFF. STUFF needs a way to not get out of hand and stay sanitary. Teen aged boys have even more STUFF and they have hungry friends with whom they travel in packs. Teen aged boys are often seen sweaty and smelly in groups after a team practice or game. They dispense their equipment – wherever, shed maximum smelly clothing and raid the refrigerator. They usually settle in somewhere with a large screen TV and upholstery not built for sweaty boys, soda cans and chips.This is the starting point for building a functional floor plan – live a day in the shoes…

Points to consider to make a floor plan well functioning:

1- First note the location of the basic “givens” – those factors you can’t change or that would be monetarily prohibitive: plumbing lines, gas lines, electrical supply, sewage drains, weight bearing walls.

2 – Make an itemized list of all the details that get in the way of an organized, peaceful life. Then group them according to priority, cost and difficulty.   Note which individual factors will impact another on the list.

3  -Think of adjacent areas such as the kitchen and eating area, bedrooms and bathrooms, as partnerships. Don’t overburden one area by asking too much of it to the detriment of the other area.

4 –Allow for ease of travel throughout the house and around the various groupings of furniture. Three feet for hallways and through doors are necessary for efficient movement.

5 –  Groupings of furniture should complement the greater space they are in to provide a function, storage, socializing or private time. Don’t forget to allow space to walk around the group and between the pieces.


6 –  Size and style of your main pieces of furniture is something that requires forethought and planning (before your growing son starts roaming with a “sports pack” …).  Frequent entertaining friends and family dinners with the grandparents and cousins can put a damper on your social enthusiasm  if you don’t have enough spaces to have people comfortably dine and converse – or if you are forced to view the messy kitchen while you eat.  Kitchen work flow impacts ease of entertaining.  Forcing guests to crowd onto a couch and sink between cushions because there are no seating alternatives is just not enjoyable.  Have you ever noticed more than 2 people hardly ever sit on a couch unless it’s a baby shower or an occasion where everyone has to gather in one room?  Also get used to and plan for the fact guests will end up in the kitchen while you cook no matter how large the kitchen is or whether the appetizers are beautifully arranged on a buffet in another room.  Plan for their presence or hire a caterer.  Guests just want a place to perch and sip a cocktail while conversing with the cook.  Bathrooms impact bedrooms as clothes are swapped out and children get ready for the day – or night.  Bedrooms and bathrooms are impacted by linen closets, hampers and access to the laundry.  Is an upstairs laundry or a laundry chute a possibility? So many towels, so many pieces of clothing – so little time.

To help you or your customers plan what to do to make life easier download a questionnaire.  It’s in Word form so you can edit and make it your own.

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