Space Planning 101

space planning
Even though this space is still in progress, note the placement of the rug and tables around the fireplace.

Stacey Lapuk, ASID

If you’re considering a redesign or refresh of your existing space and plan to tackle it on your own, here are some fundamental numbers to keep in mind when space planning. Bear in mind – even an inch truly makes a difference in how you will feel and function in your home!

Space Planning for Hallways and Pass-Throughs

Allow at the very least, 36”. This addresses the needs for a walker or wheelchair as well.

If you’re remodeling or building, see if you can make your hallways 42” – 48”. It will feel spacious and light, you will have a bit of space for a console or cabinet against a wall, and you can better view any artwork you’d like to install here.

If you need to walk into a conversation area, or behind a sofa, the 36” is a great rule of thumb.

Staircases should be at least 36” wide as well. If you are using a stair runner, leave 6” from either side of the tread, unless a balustrade comes into the step. In that case, measure from that.

Space Planning In the Kitchen

Your countertops should be 30” off the floor. Much taller, and your range is likely to dip down lower than the counter.

Upper cabinets should be between 18” – 20” off the counter top. Much depends on the height of your ceilings. If your upper cabinets are too tall, you might break them up with a row of top cabinets. When possible, you’ll want them to reach the ceiling with a crown detail.

This height off the counter will allow your countertop appliances to sit comfortably, and show off your back splash without a lot of shadow.

You’ll want the depth of your upper cabinets to be 14”. This way, your dinner dishes will fit well, even with inset doors. If you use chargers, you’ll want to be sure they will fit as well, otherwise they’ll need to find a home inside a lower cabinet or drawer. Your contractor may dissuade you from the 14” because he’ll get more panels out of a 12”, but he can always use the extra wood for shelving.

Your range hood is the eye catcher in a kitchen. It should span 6” beyond the cooktop on either side.

Living Spaces

Where should the coffee table sit? Always at 18” from the front of the sofa or chair. This is close enough to reach, even put your feet up, but far enough away to move in front of it to get up and down from your seating.

Have you ever walked into a room and the coffee table is sitting on a little rug in the middle of the room? Too far to reach, and looks pretty silly.

Speaking of rugs, going as big as possible is the rule. If you have the space, you’ll want to leave up to 24” between the edge of the rug and the wall, but the more furniture you can have sitting on the rug, the better. Your room will feel calmer and more comfortable. And more beautiful. For example, a 20’0” x 20’0” living room will want an 18’0” x 18’0” area rug. Smaller rooms can get away with 18” or so away from the wall.

Your fireplace mantle likes to be about 54” high in a normal single-story space. If you are in a double height room of course, you’ll want to go much grander.

Space Planning

Having a television above the fireplace seems reasonable, but for 2 things. First, you’ll have a black box centered over the focal point of your room; not a great look. Samsung (and I imagine other companies will follow) has a TV you can frame out and looks like a painting, photograph – whatever you like which certainly helps. But it’s still not ideal, and it’s too high. The best viewing is where your television center is at 42” off the floor. If it’s a huge TV and you’re sitting further away, you can go a bit higher.

Most people hang artwork too high on their walls. A typical height should be about 57” off the floor to the center of the piece. However, if a painting for example, is connected to a chair, or console, the height should be dictated by the piece so they feel connected.

Chandeliers in dining rooms should sit 36” from the top of the table.

The size of your dining room many times dictates the size of your table. Allow at least 36” from the table to a wall for a chair to comfortably pull in and out. 42” will allow someone to walk behind you seated at the table, to serve.

I hope this is helpful! Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact us. If you’d like to schedule a Design Discovery Call to review your project and see if we might be a good fit, please call, or visit our calendar here.

Stacey Lapuk, ASID

Stacey Lapuk, ASID is celebrating her 30th year with her firm. Named “One of America’s Ten Designers To Watch” by Design Times Magazine, one of the “Top 100 Interior Designer in North America” by Blink Art Resources, and the winner of multiple national design awards.  Her goal is simple: To co-create with her clients the home of their dreams with responsive and comprehensive solutions, and timeless, beautiful results. 

Her full service firm attracts clients desiring the finest workmanship, materials and custom design. Facets of work include partnering with architects on new construction, remodels, kitchen design and bath design, color consultation, custom furniture, flooring, area carpets, wall and window treatments, lighting design, art procurement and antique acquisition.  Service areas include but are not limited to Marin County, San Francisco, Napa, Sonoma, Ross, Kentfield, Belvedere, Tiburon, San Rafael, and Pacific Heights.