Avoid Disappointment And Frustration: Make A Furniture Floor Plan Before You Move To A New Home

Many hours are spent preparing for a move to a new home: packing household goods, booking a moving company, and setting up utilities. These activities are important, no doubt, but they won't make up for a lack of planning when it comes to getting your new home ready for the move. Specifically, if you don't have a plan for where your furniture and possessions go, you will find yourself frustrated long after the moving van has pulled away. The good news is that it's not hard to make a floor plan that will help you make decisions about the furniture layout in your new home:

Take inventory

Chances are good that you have never actually taken a formal inventory of your furniture. You can probably name the furniture in each room, but do you know how many square feet are occupied by your sofa, chairs, beds, dressers and all your other pieces?

Knowing how much room is taken up by your furniture is one of the first things you should calculate when you are close to making a move. Here are some important variables to know:

  • Length – measure from end-to-end

  • Depth – the distance from the back to the front

  • Height – from the floor to the tallest point of the piece

  • Square feet – calculated as length times depth

An ideal way to record these items is by using a computerized spreadsheet. Mark your columns with the above variable names, and list each furniture item on a row by itself. You can run calculations for square feet and also add up totals in each column. Plus, the flexibility of using a spreadsheet will enable you to run "what if" scenarios where certain pieces are hypothetically deleted.

Make a map

Once you start looking for a home, your next step is to draw maps of the living spaces within the homes that strongly interest you. Drawing maps of prospective homes will require that you obtain accurate dimensions of each room as well as take into account other factors. Below is a checklist of measurements that you want to make:

  • Length and width

  • Ceiling height

  • Obstructions within the room such as support columns

  • Location and size of windows, doors, fireplaces, and other objects against the walls

Use a steel tape measure to take measurements, and draw a rough sketch on a piece of paper with the measurements penciled-in. Be sure to measure the distances between the corners and the edges of windows and other wall-bound objects; this will allow you to know their exact positions within the room. If you don't have the time or opportunity to take measurements, you can often find a house plan online with a county surveying office or property tax agency. The seller's real estate agent may also be able to provide that information for you.

Once you get home, use a ruler and graph paper to create your actual floor plan. You will need to decide on a scale, such as 1 foot of real distance equals 1 inch of graph paper distance, before you get started. After that, draw the walls and other room details that you noted on your sketch. Make it as accurate as possible so that you can get a true picture of the room.

Next, reference your own furniture inventory spreadsheet, and create floor plan models of your own individual furniture pieces. Be sure to use the same scale as you used in your map above. Draw the pieces on thin cardboard or index cards, and cut them out; you can make them as plain or fancy as you like. The important thing is that they are drawn to scale and accurately represent the size and shape of your furniture.

Put it all together

Once you have drawn your floor plan and cut out your furniture models, you can lay out various combinations to see how your furniture will fit in a new home. Move the models around to visualize how things will look and to see if your current furniture pieces will be compatible with the lengths, angles and placement of windows and doors. You may discover that it is time to consider making new furniture selections or reducing the number of pieces you have. Or, depending on your attachment to your furniture, it may ultimately lead you to a different home altogether.

Once you've decided on a home and have a furniture plan in mind, make sure you give enough information about that plan to your local movers. This will allow them to place your furniture in the correct location, or at least the correct room, when they help you move in.