Spa­tial Plan­ning

Ren­o­vat­ing doesn’t al­ways mean large-scale works and strato­spheric bud­gets. Much can be achieved by re­work­ing ex­ist­ing spa­ces within the foot­print of your home, writes El­iz­a­beth Wilson.

Australian House & Garden - - News -

Get clever with the flow and con­fig­u­ra­tion of rooms.

Never un­der­es­ti­mate the value of look­ing in­wards when it comes to ren­o­vat­ing. Build­ing out­wards and up­wards will un­doubt­edly de­liver max­i­mum me­ta­mor­pho­sis, but clever re­work­ing of spa­ces can be to­tally trans­for­ma­tive, too.

If you feel your home’s lay­out is lack­ing flow or co­he­sion, it may be time to re­think your spa­tial plan­ning. Re­mov­ing a wall or re­pur­pos­ing an un­der-utilised area is of­ten enough to cre­ate a greater sense of space, ef­fi­ciency and joy in your home.

“Good spa­tial plan­ning gets nat­u­ral light in the best places, im­proves func­tion­al­ity and makes daily living eas­ier,” says in­te­rior de­signer So­nia Simpfendor­fer, cre­ative di­rec­tor of Mel­bourne firm Nexus De­signs. “Think­ing about how you move in and through a space is the key.”

Re­ori­ent­ing a lay­out can de­liver great gains, such as cre­at­ing a dual use for a sin­gle room or max­imis­ing stor­age, says Syd­ney in­te­rior de­signer Natasha Le­vak. “With a clever floor plan, you can en­sure no space is wasted and the gen­eral feel­ing of the in­te­rior be­comes not only prac­ti­cal but aes­thet­i­cally pleas­ing.”

Le­vak re­cently re­mod­elled an Art Deco apart­ment in Syd­ney’s east. “By re­mov­ing one wall and swap­ping the sec­ond bed­room with the kitchen – plac­ing the living room to the rear of the kitchen – we cre­ated an open-plan kitchen/living/din­ing zone with the northerly light flow­ing into the living zone rather than the sleep­ing zone.”

Think­ing out­side the square can pay div­i­dends, too. On a re­cent project, Mel­bourne ar­chi­tect Daniel Wolken­berg of POLYs­tu­dio

con­verted a bed­room into a car­port by re­mov­ing an ex­ter­nal wall and lin­ing the space with ply­wood. “This re­sulted in a very com­pact and ef­fi­cient floor plan that in­cor­po­rated off-street park­ing but not at the ex­pense of the back gar­den,” he says.

Even mi­nor changes such as relocating a door can be ef­fec­tive in en­hanc­ing the flow from one room to an­other. “In one project, we shifted a door­way to the left by a me­tre,” says Simpfendor­fer. “The door led from a hall­way into the living room and had been po­si­tioned di­ag­o­nally op­po­site the door lead­ing from the living room to the kitchen. By shift­ing it, we made the path­way be­tween these rooms more di­rect and the living room now feels more like a com­plete space rather than a pas­sage­way.”

Make sure you take a holis­tic ap­proach to the floor plan .“By con­sid­er­ing the house as a whole, you’ll cre­ate a bet­ter, bal­anced lay­out and use of space,” says Syd­ney in­te­rior de­signer An­drew Waller. “You don’t need to build all ar­eas at the same time, but by pre­par­ing a full plan you’ll see which el­e­ments are in­ter­re­lated and need to be built or in­stalled to­gether.”

Im­prov­ing spa­tial plan­ning doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily in­volve knock­ing down walls. Some­times, it just comes down to care­ful place­ment of fur­nish­ings – what­ever it takes to en­hance ac­cess, flow and ori­en­ta­tion of the set­ting. We asked the ex­perts for their top tips.

Living room

The key to suc­cess is choos­ing the right scale of fur­ni­ture .“Make sure the fur­ni­ture is in pro­por­tion with the di­men­sions of the room,” says Le­vak.

Be­ware the large mod­u­lar sofa. They can be too dom­i­nant in a space, and have lim­ited seat­ing ca­pac­ity de­spite the size, says An­drew Waller. Le­vak con­curs: “Of­ten a cou­ple of arm­chairs with a stan­dard three-seater sofa and roam­ing ot­toman will en­sure a bet­ter use of space and pro­vide the same amount of seat­ing.”

In a large open-plan space, be sure to an­chor your fur­ni­ture groups with rugs, says Simpfendor­fer.

Watch the scale of the rug, warns Le­vak. “The rug is not meant to be an is­land in the mid­dle of the room; rather, it’s a plat­form to ground the fur­ni­ture and de­fine the space. As a gen­eral rule, a rug should ex­tend half­way un­der your sofa(s) and arm­chairs.”

TVs should be po­si­tioned to al­low easy view­ing with­out dom­i­nat­ing the room. Ori­ent the fur­ni­ture with a prime TV view and also, if pos­si­ble, a sec­ondary view of the out­doors or back to the kitchen/din­ing.

In smaller spa­ces, Waller rec­om­mends us­ing fur­ni­ture with del­i­cate de­tail­ing: so­fas and chairs with nar­row arms and on raised legs. “Hav­ing the floor vis­i­ble un­der­neath the fur­ni­ture cre­ates the il­lu­sion of a larger space,” he says.

“A pair of so­fas or chairs fac­ing each other might look lovely and sym­met­ri­cal,” says Simpfendor­fer, “but con­ver­sa­tions flow bet­ter when peo­ple sit at right an­gles to – not op­po­site – each other. The lat­ter feels too much like an in­ter­view.”

Din­ing

There are many vari­ables at play in a din­ing area, es­pe­cially if it’s part of an open-plan living zone. Think about how your din­ing space in­ter­acts with other rooms, your daily din­ing needs as well as your re­quire­ments for en­ter­tain­ing.

In a small space, choose a din­ing ta­ble that is ex­tend­able and slim so as not to crowd the space. That way, it still al­lows mul­ti­ple seat­ing sce­nar­ios – smaller for ev­ery­day and larger for en­ter­tain­ing.

If your din­ing ta­ble is an­chored with a rug, al­low at least 90cm from the edge of the ta­ble to the edge of the rug to en­sure there’s room to push back the chairs with­out fall­ing off, says Le­vak. “The same mea­sure­ment ap­plies in re­la­tion to a wall and other fur­nish­ings to pre­vent the room from feel­ing too cramped.”

The ta­ble width will be dic­tated by the size of the space: “Where pos­si­ble, go for a min­i­mum ta­ble width of 1.1m to al­low enough space for plat­ters at the cen­tre of the ta­ble,” says Waller.

Oval and el­lip­ti­cal ta­bles help the flow of con­ver­sa­tion. Round ta­bles can work well in a square room, but be care­ful of the size: “If it’s too big, space in the cen­tre of the ta­ble is wasted and it’s hard to carry con­ver­sa­tion from side to side,” says Le­vak. Oval and rec­tan­gu­lar ta­bles are the best choices if you need to add seats to the set­ting when your crowd ex­pands.

Lighting is a key con­sid­er­a­tion: “Light fit­tings sus­pended low over a din­ing ta­ble will al­low for an in­ti­mate feel­ing,” says Le­vak.“Makesureth­e­fit­tingsaread­justable and on a dim­mer func­tion to al­low you to change the mood in the room.”

Main bed­room

While we may not spend many day­light hours in this space, hav­ing a well-de­signed bed­room is some­thing to as­pire to, says Daniel Wolken­berg. “Wak­ing up in a room with morn­ing light or a beau­ti­ful out­look is an up­lift­ing start to the day,” he says. “Goodbed­roomde­sign­in­cludes­ori­en­ta­tion to­wards nat­u­ral light and views as much as the in­ter­nal fit­tings and lay­out.”

Where pos­si­ble, try to po­si­tion the bed on the op­po­site wall from the door into the room, says Wolken­berg. Al­low at least 75cm for cir­cu­la­tion around the bed.

An­drew Waller agrees: “Ori­ent­ing the space so you en­ter the room at the foot of the bed will al­low for eas­ier ac­cess to both sides of the bed, and will also cre­ate a larger sense of space and bal­ance.”

Think about scale and pro­por­tion, says Le­vak. “The bed­sides need to be of a size that bal­ances the scale of the mat­tress or bed,” she says. “I see lots of interiors where the beds are high and the bed­sides are small and low, which looks com­pletely out of pro­por­tion to the bed it­self.”

When space is tight, use wall lights in­stead of ta­ble lamps and con­sider bed bases with stor­age to house ad­di­tional blan­kets and pil­lows.

If your bed­room has an en­suite, avoid lo­cat­ing the toi­let within di­rect sight of the bed­room. “Po­si­tion it in a more con­cealed area. Lo­cate more lux­u­ri­ous fit­tings in di­rect sight on en­try – ei­ther the bath or van­ity sink,” says Waller.

Make sure there’s a door di­vid­ing the bed­room and en­suite, for pri­vacy and as abar­ri­er­a­gain­st­steam­fromthe­bath­room, says Le­vak. “If a con­ven­tional hinged door isn’t pos­si­ble, cav­ity slid­ing doors have come a long way. These days, there are some bril­liant track­ing sys­tems that are smooth and quiet to op­er­ate.”

Simpfendor­fer ad­vises against lo­cat­ing the toi­let be­hind a nib wall. “Leave those open bed­room/bath­room con­fig­u­ra­tions to ho­tels. Hear­ing or watching some­one brush their teeth (or worse) ev­ery day can re­ally kill the romance.”

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