Before you tackle a redecorating project in a particular room, it’s important to understand how it will be used before creating the right set-up for the room. That’s why function should come before form during any redesign project.
It may seem obvious, but an office will require a different spacial design than a dining room. Also, there are differences if you intend the space to be a place to entertain guests, or as a private retreat for yourself.
Traffic flows, seating space, access to snacks (or the bathroom) are all considerations depending on what you plan to use the newly decorated room for.
It is also important to realize what combined functions a room will serve. For example, your family room may be where you watch TV and where the kids will play. If that’s the case, then storage and comfortable seating are a must for creating the space… and (if space allows) perhaps a division of the space into two distinct areas.
As yourself these 3 critical questions before you begin:
What is the MAIN purpose of this room?
Understanding the primary function of the room will help determine the core layout and pieces of furniture, accessories, and decor that will be needed. Sometimes, that decision is easy. A dedicated dining room is pretty straightforward. But there are things you need to consider, even when things seem simple.
- Do you require storage in the room for items related to that space?
- How many guests do you need to fit, normally and at a maximum?
- Do you prefer a formal or relaxed dining atmosphere?
But once you understand the main purpose of the room – dining for example – the plans can come together appropriately.
What (if any) is the SECONDARY purpose of this room?
If you need the dining room space to also perform a secondary duty, that can change the plan. Perhaps your dining room also needs to serve as an office space, crafts table, or games room… the furniture and decor requirements will be different for a multi-purpose room than they would for one that has a sole and exclusive purpose.
Family Rooms (or Dens) are often multi-purpose rooms. They’re used for the family to gather and chat, to watch TV, or play games. They are used to fold laundry and do homework. They’re used as an overflow for dining. They are used to perform the many functions that a Family must perform… hence the name.
But, again, understanding the Primary purpose will help inform certain decisions. If the primary purpose is to watch TV, you don’t want all the seating pointing away from the television. If the secondary purpose is to fold laundry, you’ll want a large enough coffee table to make that practice easier to accomplish.
But if the primary purpose is to gather for family meetings and discussions about what happened during the day, having the couches face each other to create a more intimate conversation place would be the way to go. And, if you don’t WANT the Family Room to become the homework completion area, keep surfaces busy to limit the student’s ability to spread their work across the space.
How many people will this room need to fit, on a regular basis as well as on special occasions?
We touched on this briefly, but it is important for the design of a room to accommodate how many people will use it daily, but it’s also important to understand if flexibility is required in order to fit a large gathering around the holidays (for example). This would also apply to guest rooms (so that you can select the properly sized bedroom set).
Do you need to have extra seating available? How often will you need to access it? Does your dining room or kitchen table need to be expandable? Can you divide large groups into several areas of the house, or do you need space for one long table?
Although an overstuffed room can be considered cozy, it also makes it much harder to be adaptable to change when change is required.
Once you’ve established the core parameters for your room redesign, the rest… as they say… is easy.