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How to plan your living room by Dan Hopwood

24th March 2015

Take a look at your living room, like most of us it’s probably well loved and well used with shelves stacked with travel and cookery books, a few mishaps on the carpet and a sofa that has been a den for the kids and a haven for the dog. It’s time for a change, a transformation to turn it into a serene, comfortable space that you and your family can relax in and feel proud of.

Where to start in your venture to upgrade the space? Perhaps picking up some paint samples from B&Q or jump in the car to Ikea to pick up things that you fancy.  Well if that’s the idea, you are going about it all wrong. The results will look as random as your attempts.

There are simple and efficient ways to plan your living room and pull a scheme together that result in a carefully considered room which is impactful i.e. impressive and practical. After all doing work is expensive you can’t afford to get it wrong.

OK you might have to work a little harder but its fun and you will be doing the same thing as a professional designer.

You need to draw up a plan. You do this by doing what we call in the business a measured survey. Oh no! I hear you say, that sounds complicated, but it’s not that difficult. Sketch out a simple outline of the room and then mark it up with measurements of each wall. Transfer this sketch on graph paper to create a scaled plan. The scale of the drawing on the paper depends on the size of the room and the size of the paper, for example one metre measured could be five centimetres on the drawing.

Then on a separate piece of paper draw outlines of each item of furniture that you want to keep or would like to buy and measure them too. Cut out each piece. You can then move these furniture templates around the plan until you have the ideal layout. When you have the layout right glue them down.

If you’ve got the hang of it and feel adventurous have a go at drawing up elevations too? Imagine that a plan is the bottom of a shoe box and the elevation the inside sides, now flatten the box by cutting the corners, that’s what the plan and elevations should look like. It’s like a miniature version of the room on flat paper.

You can then add positions where you would like to place lighting including ceiling spots and position sockets in the right place.  Perhaps position a rug placing it under the furniture by doing this you will be able to work out the right size rug to buy.

As you start selecting fabrics, paints and flooring you could colour in the drawings to make them look more realistic.

You could also use the drawing also to sketch up joinery ideas, just put tracing paper over the top so that you can try lots of options. The same could be done for trying out different window treatments.

You are now well in to creating a presentation board, an essential tool for a designer as it is a vision of what the room might be.

The next step? The hunt for inspiration but that’s another story.

Sophie Robinson and Dan Hopwood are interior designers from the BBC’s Great Interior Design Challenge. This blog post was written exclusively for Grand Designs Live, which takes place at London’s ExCeL from 2-10 May. You can see Sophie and Dan live on stage at the show, sharing their knowledge in the Grand Theatre. To book tickets to the show, with a 50% discount for ROCO readers, click here and quote ROCO241 when booking.

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