In Australia we’re obsessed with volumes of open space. After years of living in tiny bedsits and studio flats in London I know first hand that volume of space isn’t the key to a cohesive, functioning space. What is key to cohesive and functioning space is a good floor plan. So in this post I discuss the importance of a good floor plan.
Functional problems in a space
Before you even put pen to paper, even if it’s the back of the proverbial envelope, make a list of the functional problems you’re experiencing in the space.
Don’t assume that adding space will solve your problem. For example, I was working on a kitchen renovation design project and the client’s two key functional problems were a lack of counter space and the height of the existing counter was too low.
Once you’re aware of your key functional problems then note down your wish list and your budget.
Any floor plan work will focus on overcoming the key functional problems. For example in the kitchen project mentioned above this meant adding a return to increase counter space and incorporating an appliance corner to ensure the appliances didn’t take up the increased counter space.
A floor plan to suit your home
Working within your existing foot print is more cost effective that extending either back or up. If you’re considering extending then consider moving. There may be a cost benefit to moving into a bigger house rather than extending.
This is not often what my client’s want to hear but it’s worth asking because nobody wants to spend more than they have to on a project nor do they want to over capitalise.
In a recent project I was working on in Preston that’s exactly the approach I took. Working within the existing foot print of the house to create a new bedroom, new ensuite, separate powder room by moving walls rather than extending them.
Factor in furniture
Most floor plans I see don’t factor in furniture. Incorporating a furniture layout in a proposed plan is helpful in understanding how the space will work. If the extra space will accommodate all the furniture you need based on the functionality.
I had a prospective client meeting in a new build where the dining table was at least 3-4 metres away from the kitchen. This didn’t make sense to me given you need the dining table close to the kitchen to facilitate the transport of food and dirty dishes to and from the kitchen.
A 2D proposed floor plan is a good tool but it is restricted in understanding how the spaces work individually and with each other in a real life 3D context.
Consider flow of movement
I wrote about flow of movement recently, being about how the end user engages with the space. Are pathways clear? Does the furniture layout support a good flow of movement by communicating to the end user how to use the space?
For example, I met another prospective client who had the counter stools hidden under the counter. When you entered the kitchen you couldn’t see the stools and didn’t know you could sit at the counter.
Which meant the natural flow of movement was to the adjacent dining table, hindering the interactive nature of open plan kitchens where you have people sitting at the counter while the host preps the food.
The importance of a good floor plan is based on functionality not volume of space. It’s about being smart and generous at the same time. Knowing what functional problems you need to overcome is the best place to start to get a good cohesive floor plan.