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Space Planning Part 2: How to Make the Best Use of Your Space


Perhaps you have a very tiny space or it needs to operate on two fronts, there will still be options, but you have find them and it’s almost like a game of hide and seek.

The more you practise the better you get. Use CAD if you prefer, but you still need to appreciate ‘space’ the beauty of it and how to make it work for you. CAD or drawing by hand – is a way of giving information like the Schedule and Brief and it has a vital part to play in the success of your project.

The use of space is often dictated by what is there already because you can see what it looks like. You have to step out of the box and look at it from all angles. What has gone before may look OK but until you start to explore new ideas you have nothing to compare it to.

Our lifestyle has changed dramatically in the last 50 years so our interiors need to keep up with it. Turn ideas upside down, and be brave.

Sir Terrance Conran said “in design it is human error that often opens up a new avenue”’ Oct ’96.

This was said in reference to drawing by hand rather than using CAD.

Obviously there will be limitations, budget, structural elements and usage. Natural light is also important as life is happier and more eco-friendly, so enticing light to enter a naturally dark area can be testing. However, there are solutions. You just have to know about them, which means research.

Look at the Sun Pipe idea from Monodraught for closed in space that needs natural light.

Sun Pipe idea from Monodraught


To make the very best use of space and give ease of movement you need to:

  • Look at the doors in a room and how people enter and leave – are there defined routes and is there ease of movement? (Walking around the kitchen islands is my favourite at the moment, as they can obstruct good movement, but kitchen companies and most people ‘want’ them and they sell more units for the kitchen company.) An extended peninsular work top serves equally as well. In a family house you want to avoid traffic jams. We call it circulation or traffic flow! As professionals we spend a lot of time on this subject to make it work.
  • Analyse your activity and needs for the space 90% of the time.
  • Flexible solutions should cope with the other 10%, eg Christmas and holidays
  • Keep items that have to stay, measure them and colour match to their finish
  • Find new free standing items and find as many alternatives as possible to account for the extra cms, more or less, so you have a choice of solutions when you are planning to scale.



Children, elderly people, those in a Wheelchair need access, teenagers, Mums and prams, bikes, Dads and sport equipment, in no particular order, must be accommodated, but be realistic and balance your needs with ideals.

   foldable table for extra space

Doubling- up with items of furniture like sofa beds , lift up lid Ottermans and bench seating allow the items to help with storage as well as function.   Hard bench seating is fine for children for the everyday, but not great for Granny on Christmas Day.



The ‘Living Room’ with a TV is the norm but the greatest design sin is to create more than one focal point in the same place eg. putting a tv above a fireplace. For a ‘professional looking design’ you have to decide what is more important the TV or the fireplace. TV’s today are huge and very bad for the eyes if too close or if positioned too high will give you neck ache. Look at the dimensions chart.

TV and fire place as focal points

If you can achieve a flexible layout that allows for these two items to exist in harmony and the axis of the room is able to be mobile, then I have seen it work.

Today’s lifestyle should encourage conversation and reading but the big screen is dominant. If you have the luxury of two rooms then create two different areas – one that’s purely for watching TV and the other for entertaining, conversation, relaxation with a book or a past time and perhaps with a fireplace! Sometimes open plan is not the answer.

Group of fans are watching a soccer moment on the TV and celebrating a goal, sitting on the couch in the living room.

A TV room does not need any other features but should have great acoustics, a screen size that fits the room and not so large it affects your eyes and lighting that will dim. If you can afford good surround sound, then blackout, carpet and acoustic walls are a must and many of the features can be controlled remotely. The layout of AV needs professional input to get the best of the sound.



living room with fireplace

living room estate mansion home windows

The layout of an additional room should have an abundance of interesting ideas, but distributed so that although the fireplace may be the dominant statement, there are other areas to create interest. Books, a table with photos, a piano, a display of a collection, suitably dressed window treatment, very inviting chairs and sofas of differing height, styles and support, to accommodate every type of person. Not everyone has the ability to heave themselves out of deep feathered pads, so individual chairs with a good supporting back and arms yet soft with a loose pad and a cushion, will be well used by your older folk.

The three piece suit died 20 years ago. Three seater sofas are for large rooms only as only two people will use it and furniture should not be dotted around the walls unless there is absolutely no choice. Keeping in touch with the architectural style of the room should mean preserving the features, but adding todays ideas with chic styling from the massive arrange of options available.


three seater sofa

 Image: A three piece suite is not the look for today’ interiors.

To make sure your style fits in, create more than a mood board – you need a concept that will work with what is existing, the architectural style and your new dynamic design. There is so much choice, but without some anchorage you will go off course. Find your style first.

We cover extensively how to create a concept in our members plan – Sign up to learn how.



Planning the space using the ‘open plan style’ is very popular because it does away with wasted corridor space and tiny rooms that don’t allow any flexibility.

For a family, it means the kitchen can become part of the living room, children can be watched and cooking is no longer a’ banishment’ to the scullery.

It has great benefits, however the ‘enlightened’ have gone a stage further as they want the best of both world. They miss the cosiness and privacy, they can do without the constant smell of cooking and the inability to live independent lives in the same house without having to go to your room.

space planning open plan living room

The ‘Broken Plan’ living is open plan when you need it and provides individual units when you don’t. It incorporates sliding walls and doors, glass partitions, pivoting doors and flexi screens.

dividing wall verve architects      space planning glass partition wall with door

space planning open plan

It has flexible space in every sense yet it also has designated areas. This is not a cheap option unless you are building from scratch although it can be retrospectively fitted if you have a healthy budget but it makes sense for the ultimate in space planning for today.



If you are working with an Architect, Cad Technician and/or an Interior Designer, make sure they are aware of the items you want to include with the measurements, as soon as possible. Otherwise they will use ‘generic’ space planning. They will expect you to work with whatever their new extension design is. They will just ‘allocate’ space – and say this is your kitchen area. You need to ensure they have ALL the information and then they will design accordingly.

Planning your space needs detail, accuracy, patience to try lots of alternative options and common sense. When you have finished and implemented you will definitely feel you have achieved something special and the next time round will be so much easier.

Mediterranean-Style-House-Ryan-Street-12-1-Kindesign folding glass doors partition





Note – Dimensions are shown in mms. The best allowances are your own personal measurements. This is only a guide.

Sofa space per person in plan Width 660 – 700 Depth 600- 700 plus a pad
Sofa heights vary dependant on makeup Seat Height Height 440 – 480
In a typical layout of chairs and sofas and L shape or square To pass into the space between chairs 600 -750
With a typical layout in L shape means the corners at the right angle  Allow 100mms at the L so they don’t touch
A reasonable distance for conversation (without shouting) with two sofas facing each other  2000 – 2600 you can allow more but it has to look good



Seating – Bench style – consider pads on wooden benches as they are not comfortable for long dinners/lunches per person Width 350- 450 Depth 450- 530 Height of seat 430 – 480



Normal Desk with 20 -40 mm worktop depth – Width 760 – 1000 Depth 600 – 850 Height 720 – 760
Desk optional heights using adjustable chairs allow 660 – 780
Space to walk behind a desk , to a wall or other furniture –  allow 860 – 940  na  na



Reachable shelf height sitting, depends on person and seat  allow Height 1300- 1450
Inbetween shelves (all depends on what is on them. Ie. books or objects or display items  Measure items  allow Height 380 – 460
Maximum Reach for top Shelf – depends on persons height and what you are reaching for  allow Height 1720 – 1820
Shelves for Books. Depths depend on weight and what material is used for shelfeg. Wood, melamine board, metal. Measure largest book Depth 280 – 400  800-1000 shelf thickness 25 – 30




Dining table place per person Width 600 – 750
Place at end of table allow further width Width 280
If someone is to sit at the end
Cafe table width for 2 persons  Round Diameter 600- 750
Family Table for 6 Rectangular Width 1200 Depth 800 Height 720
Large Dining tables 2 places at end for 8  Rectangular Width 2000 – 2200 Depth 900 – 1000 Height 720 – 740
Circular Tables take up more space and depends on the size of the chair. Diameter 8-10 person 1820 +   6-8 person 1500 + 4-6 person 1200 +
Note; when planning space always show chair fully out from table in plan
Coffee Tables should be no closer to knees than 350mms to get to seating
Allow as a passage way behind a seating arrangement 750 more if possible


KITCHEN – Use sizes from flat pack kitchen companies for more guidance.

Kitchen Work top – normal using off the shelf laminates – check edge detail  Up to 3mts long = width  Depth 600 – 900 Height generally 920
Kitchen Bar to sit at with a stool  Up to 3mts long Depth 450-550 Height 920- 1100
Space for knees under depends on stool 600- 780



Wheelchair Access – depends on chair  Width 780 -920
Turning Circle for Wheelchairs Radius 1520 880 – 940



Wardrobes – double hanging for adult – depends on door type, normal, sliding, Width usually divided up 800 – 1000 Depth 650 – 800 Height 1950-2100 +
Single Rail position on side of unit – add drop of coat hanger hook of 50-70mms  Allow a drop  Depth 650 – 800 Height 900- 1200
Men’s shirts with a double cuff needs more drop plus the coat hanger hook as before. Allow a drop Depth 650 – 700 Height of rail 1000
TV Position on wall – the centre to the screen should be eye level with you seated – 540 – 580 from floor.


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