The particulars of arranging furniture

When people look at a room they notice the wall colour, the beautiful windows and the focal point such as a fireplace.

I notice the traffic patterns and quickly calculate how easy or difficult it will be to place furniture in the room. Too many focal points in a room can make the task of putting furniture in it very daunting!

Traffic patterns are the ‘pathways’ you take to enter or exit a room, sometimes a traffic pattern can take you directly through a room if there is more than one doorway.

Rooms with a very open concept can have a variety of paths and can prove more challenging when it comes to furniture placement.

To determine the traffic pattern of a room, stand at the entrance to the room you feel will be used most often.

Is there a single entry point to the room or does it flow to other areas of the house?

You should attempt to leave a 3-4 ft. berth in the main pathways through your home. Determine what places in the room you need to reach such as windows, fireplaces and other doors – keep pathways to these areas as clear as you can.

Place furniture in front of walls or float them in front of windows utilizing your largest uninterrupted wall spaces first.

Ideally when you enter a room from the main access point you should be looking at the front of your furniture; if you have two main access points to a room you should try to angle the furniture to half face each entry (like I said, challenging in a multi entrance room!)

Consider the conversation triangle when arranging furniture.

Furniture should be placed in a triangular formation with furniture no more than 3-4 ft. apart. Furniture placed in a traditional ‘L’ formation is a difficult set up for conversation as no two pieces of furniture are facing one another.

Furniture should be angled towards each other or facing parallel for optimum conversation ease. Rooms which have televisions as their focal point are often poorly set up for the conversation triangle which is alright because most people are focusing on what is on TV and not on conversation.

You can float the furniture away from walls if you need to bring the triangle into closer proximity and of course leave one end open for entry into the furniture grouping.

Dining room tables also have a traffic pattern that surrounds them and the difficult part is the chairs are constantly moving.

When placing a dining room or kitchen table in a space, allow for 18-20 inches behind each chair to allow your friends and family enough room to comfortably seat themselves. Often space can be limited and these tables are edged towards a corner only to be pulled out when the table is being used. Ideally a table should have enough room behind it for the hostess to walk around behind her guests, a in a restaurant.

For a regular 4 ft. round table you need a room which is 10 x10 to allow enough room for chairs, guests and free flow traffic around the table.

When building a house you have the freedom to shape rooms to your liking, if buying an existing house you may have to modify some furniture to make the rooms work for you. It’s all in the measuring and being aware of traffic patterns in a room.

Kim Meckler is an interior designer in Red Deer with Carpet Colour Centre.

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