Drawing a Floor Plan

Developing a floor plan for furniture arranging is a relatively simple procedure. It needn’t be as detailed as plans used by architects and contractors

It needs to give you a sense of space, placement of windows, doors, built-ins and fireplaces — anything that will impact the placement of furniture. It’s also a good idea to note electrical outlets, switches and cable boxes if they are important to your plan. If the perfect place for the entertainment center is on a wall without cable or a close outlet you can reconsider or have time to install them.

You don’t have to take a drafting class to draw a simple floor plan. Just gather up a few basic items to get started. You’ll need:

  • a 25 foot, 1 inch metal measuring tape,
  • a pencil (with a big eraser),
  • ¼” graph paper
  • a calculator.

Enter the room you intend to want a floor plan of and face any wall. Draw a line on your graph paper to represent that wall. At this point, it doesn’t have to be to scale.

Starting at the corner to your left, measure the width of the wall——in inches. Note this above the line (if you keep all measurements in inches, you are less likely to make a mistake converting back and forth).

If there are any doors or windows (built-ins or fireplaces etc.) on the wall, be sure to mark them. Once again, starting on your left, measure to the nearest opening. Mark down the measurement. For doorways, make sure it is the actual opening you are measuring and NOT including any trim.

You may not think the opening is that critical…until you try bring a 39” deep sofa through a 36” doorway. If you fall in love with a piece you think may not fit, discuss it with the sales consultant. There could be an easy solution such as unscrewing legs or turning it on an angle. I know sales people who will call their delivery crew to discuss the situation. You’d be amazed at what delivery men can do when faced with getting it in the house or returning it to the store!

Continue until all walls have been measured and openings marked. When you are finished, your sketch should look similar to this…

It won’t be easy to visualize your furniture arrangement with all the notations, so we’re going to clean it up a bit. On the ¼” graph paper, each square represents a foot. In the example floor plan, the fireplace wall is 202 inches. Now you convert to feet and inches. 202 inches equals 16 feet 10 inches. Mark 16 ¾ squares on the graph paper (I know 10 inches isn’t ¾ of a foot, but for our purposes, it’s close enough).

Start at the corner to the left of the fireplace and convert each measurement to the equivalent of squares. The space from the corner to the window edge is 24”. Because each square is a foot, divide 24 by 12. This tells you to mark 2 squares to represent that space. The window is 36 ½”…divide by 12 and this tells you to mark just over 3 squares to represent the window. Continue with this procedure until you have gone around the room.

You finished floor plan should resemble the sample below.

If you are arranging existing furniture, you now need to measure the length and depth of each piece being used in the room. If buying new pieces, take a note pad with you on shopping trips to note dimensions of the items you’re interested in. Many stores have tags on the furniture with the dimensions. If not, bring a measuring tape with you or borrow one from a sales consultant.

With these measurements you can either make your own templates with the graph paper or buy templates in the drafting section of your office supply or art store.

It’s easy to make your own furniture templates. A 36” deep x 84” long sofa is 3 squares wide by 7 squares long. However, if you think you’re going to be using them over and over, it will be worth purchasing a set.

Remember, it’s much easier to move those little pieces of paper all over a piece of graph paper than it is moving real pieces of furniture all over the room! Brainstorm with a spouse or friend. Sometimes a fresh set of eyes will see an arrangement you hadn’t thought of. Just remember to keep focal points and traffic patterns in mind as you decide. It doesn’t count if you come up with a great plan but it blocks the only doorway!