Our body dimensions and the way we move and perceive space are super important when it comes to architecture and interior design. Have I lost you yet? Stay with me folks! Today we are going to unpack Space Planning and how (by taking the time on the front end to do it) will make your project run a heck-of-a-lot more smoothly. We are not even kidding when we say this. It will pay huge dividends in the end! So strap on your smarty pants and let’s learn how to space plan. Here are two words at the core of achieving balance and comfort in the design process:
Antherpometrics: The measurement of size, proportions and range of movement of the human body
Ergonomics: The study of the relationship between human physiology and our physical environment
In the design process ergonomics uses the information from anthropometrics to figure out how the human body interacts with physical objects like chairs, desks and tables. Ever stub your toe on a sharp bed corner (who hasn’t done this? Ouch.)? Or is there a room you don’t like but can’t quite pinpoint what it is about it that’s driving you crazy? In some cases it’s the colors or outdated furnishings but you’d be surprised at how often a poorly planned space is the culprit. We see it all the time. It doesn’t matter how beautiful a room is – if it doesn’t meet its first critical criteria of functionality – you’re going to hate it. Good design should always incorporate form and dimension. Another way to say it is a space should be safe, comfortable, easy to use and encourage productivity and performance.
So what does Space Planning look like you ask? It’s really not that difficult. Make a drawing of the floor plan and consider how you will utilize the space. What is the purpose of the room? How often will you utilize the space? How will the space be used by you and other members of your family? Do you want separate work zones or an open concept? Make a detailed list of your needs in the room. Then get out your tape measure and some painters tape and start measuring. This step is so important – don’t skip it (it will be helpful to recruit someone to help you measure). Measure the space in the room and tape out (on the floor) the size of the furniture you are considering. Make sure that everything will fit properly and that you have room/clearance to move easily and comfortably in the space.
Here are four important tips to remember when space planning:
1. Unobstructed Pathways: Make sure the pathways you use regularly are unobstructed. Where are the doors? Where are the hallways? What is the quickest pathway to those spaces? Once you figure that out, organize your furniture in clean, straight lines around those areas so you have clear pathways.
2. How Do You Use Your Space: Think through what “steps” you may go through on a regular basis in a certain space and how those steps may impact your organization of the space. The kitchen work triangle is perhaps the best example of this concept. The primary tasks in any kitchen are carried out at the cook top, the sink and the refrigerator. This is what we call the kitchen work triangle. The pathways to these areas should be direct, unobstructed, and close proximity. Keep your cooking utensils by the cook top, your dishwashing supplies by the sink and your food, well, in the refrigerator and nearby pantry.
3. Properly Scaled Furniture: Avoid furniture that is too large for your space (or too small, for that matter). Scale and proportion is so important we wrote a whole blog post about it here (like to post).
4. Existing Conditions: Before your plan is set in stone, determine what your existing conditions are. Where are your outlets, doors, and windows? Something as simple as relocating an outlet may make a space work a hundred times better (and prevent you from tripping over the same cord over and over…hallelujah!)
We hope these diagrams and measurements will come in handy when planning kitchen and dining space in your home.
Follow these tips and tricks and you will have a beautiful ergonomically designed room in no time!
Happy space planning!