Think — and rethink — before you act. This is the first rule of successful interior design and decoration. Take a whole view and a long view. Acting piecemeal on impulse can lead to mistakes costly both in time and money.
Do not try to hold all your ideas in your head; put them down on paper as you go along because
1. this makes them easier to discuss with other people (decorating choices are, or should be, a family affair) and
2. you will be able to think more clearly yourself from written notes and plans.
Assessing your home. Thoroughly assess the house/flat in which you are living or will be moving into. Take a critical look at the way your house works and the way it looks. Make a note of anything you think should be changed.
Assessing family needs. Assess your family needs at the same time on a separate list. The needs of your family are unique, different from the needs of any other family in your street or area. It is possible to change your home to suit your family but difficult, if not impossible, to change the needs and habits of your family to fit in with the dictates of your home. Family needs change over the years as children grow up and circumstances change. This calls for flexibility in your grand plan when you are moving into a new home or altering your existing home.
Your answers to the following 30 questions will help you to assess how well your present or intended home can cope with the needs and wants of your family.
Relationship of rooms
1 Can members of the household get from the main entrance to their bedrooms without passing through the main living area?
2 Can visitors get from the main entrance to the main living area without entering either the kitchen or the dining area?
3 Can members of the household get from bedrooms to the bathroom and a w.c. Without entering any other room or going up or downstairs to another floor?
4 Is the kitchen conveniently placed in relation to the dining area or does serving a meal entail a long march?
5 From the kitchen can you see the children playing inside the house and out?
6 Is there a convenient route for the children to take through the house to the garden without entering the main living area?
7 Does the kitchen have some view of the outside world? 8 Does the kitchen have easy access to the rubbish disposal area and is the route under cover? 9 Can a heavy batch of shopping be un-
loaded directly into the kitchen without passing through the living room? Living room
10 Is the living room large enough to accommodate all the family in comfort, plus the occasional guest or guests?
11 Is the living room open-plan with a dining area or separated from the dining room?
12 Have you plenty of comfortable seating for watching TV, listening to records, reading, conversation ?
13 If sewing, homework, hobbies are to take place in the living room, are there suitable space and working surfaces?
14 Is there adequate storage for records, books, magazines, sewing materials, hobbies gear?
15 Is there display shelving for treasured possessions, collections, ornaments, photographs — or scope for it?
Is there easy access from your living room to the garden, patio or yard? Hall
17 Is there adequate storage in the hall for your family’s needs. These might include: (a) outdoor clothes such as hats, caps, scarves, gloves, anoraks, coats, boots; (b) the pram; (c) sports equipment such as tennis and squash racquets, football boots and ball; (d) cleaning equipment (vacuum cleaner, brushes, dustpan, brooms, dusters, cleaning fluids, polishes).
18 Is there a space to deposit your shopping before you have a chance to unpack it?
19 If the telephone is in the hall, is there sitting space, a rest for a pencil and notepad, racks for telephone directories?
20 Have the hall, stairs and landing — frequently used “circulation areas” — adequate lighting for safety and convenience?
21 Are the working arrangements within the kitchen adequate? Is there an unbroken work surface between, and on either side of, the sink and cooker?
22 Is there adequate space for storage of food and utensils?
23 Is there enough space for basic equipment — cooker, dishwasher, refrigerator and, if there is no separate utility room, washing machine, drier, deep freeze?
24 Is there space in the kitchen for informal family meals to be taken? Bedrooms
25 Can the bedrooms be put to any use during the day? Equipped to provide for games, hobbies, homework, studying, reading, sewing?
26 Do older children have a room suitable for entertaining their friends without disturbing other members of the household?
27 Do the bedrooms have adequate storage facilities? 28 Would installation of a wash-basin and/or shower in one of your bedrooms ease pressure on the bathroom? Bathroom and w.c
29 Is the bathroom and separate w.c. Provision adequate? Is there sufficient sound insulation between the w.c. And the main entrance, the living room, the bedrooms?
30 Is the bathroom warm, comfortable and safe?
If, as a result of your checklist answers, you decide to alter the layout of the house or the functions of the rooms, you will need to make a floor plan.
To make a floor plan:
1. Draw rough sketches of each floor of your home.
2. Walk around and fill in measurements step-by-step on your rough plan. Use a steel rule. Cloth tapes sag and stretch. Mark (a) the position and width of doors and windows, and the way they open; (b) the position of radiators, fireplaces and built-in fitments; (c) the position of power and lighting points, gas supply points and possible plumbing positions.
3. Redraw your rough floor plans to scale. Use graph or squared paper. A scale of 1 in. to 8 ft works well, especially if you have a ruler marked in eighths of an inch. Or you can use a metric scale of 1:100.
These upstairs/downstairs floor plans give you a co-ordinated general picture of actualities and possibilities.
For each individual room you may need a separate plan drawn to a larger scale than the floor plans.
Use graph or squared paper once again. Use a pencil, so that you can easily correct mistakes with an eraser. Work to a scale of in. to 1 ft or to a metric scale of 1:50. Repeat the process as for ground plans: draw a rough sketch, fill in measurements, then re-draw to scale.
Fitting in furniture, equipment. Measure the furniture and equipment which you possess or arethinking of buying. Draw their shapes on stiff paper or card to the same scale as your room plan. Cut out these shapes. This will enable you to move your furniture and equipment around on the plan to find the best positions for them.
Furniture arrangement is governed by the functions of the room and must take account of these factors:
1. Sources of heat; these may be fixed, such as radiators or a fireplace, or flexible, such as movable appliances.
2. Position of power points, which largely determine the positioning of electrical equipment, although extra sockets, adaptors or extension leads allow some flexibility.
3. Light sources.
4. Position of doors and windows.
5. Position of built-in fitments.
Remember to allow for enough passageway between groups of furniture and for ease of cleaning. Remember too that drawers and cupboard doors obtrude when opened.
Simple elevations or wall plans can be made on squared paper and to scale in the same way as floor and room plans. Their purpose is to enable you to see how furniture, light fittings, pictures, etc, look when grouped together against a wall.
Aim to avoid dramatic changes in horizontal levels, as the eye finds these disturbing. When objects are arranged to “line up- as far as possible, the eye can travel smoothly from the top of one object to the next. This is particularly important in small rooms where continuity of horizontal levels can help to create an illusion of greater space.
It is simple to make the top of a picture line up with a light fitting, or position a shelf so that its line continues the line from a piece of furniture.