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Designing an Open Space
July 2018

One of the things we wanted when we looked for a floor plan was a true "open-concept." We had a shape in mind for our living space - we thought of it as kind of a triangle: kitchen and dining rooms near each other, both opening up to a big living space. The first time we drove through what is now our neighborhood, we walked into the model home and WHOA. It was the exact floor plan we had in mind. We knew that was the house we wanted to build. 

As soon as we had our initial building-design meeting, we began to think about furniture we would want in our finished home. This is before the builder had even broken ground - I'm a Type A, super-planner, remember? Should we go with a sectional? What kind of chair should we put in front of the glass doors? How big should our coffee table be? 

Walking into a big empty space can be intimidating for someone whose college degrees didn't include spacial design. So, we thought practically about it. Here is what I recommend:

1. Think about the function of the room.

Will you want to host parties in this space? Should it be kid friendly? We knew we wanted our house to be a place where we could throw open the big back doors and host college-football Saturdays. We also wanted the ability to host small groups. So we made sure the furniture we looked for would provide enough seating but still give space for people to move in and out of the house. The circle (swivel) chair by the window is my favorite - with the doors open, someone can sit in that chair and be inside or out. Perfect functionality for the space.

2. Try out lots of pieces.

Y'all. I think we went to every furniture store in central Alabama. We took lots of pictures, made notes of measurements and available colors. We eventually narrowed it down to a couple of pieces we thought could work in the space. Then...

3. Physically map it out.

This is literally the best thing we did when designing the interior of our home. We were initially set on a sectional we found at Bassett. Thankfully there was a home with our same floor plan in the neighborhood that we were able to use (while ours was still just studs) -  we used a string to map out the dimensions of the floor plan in the living room. It was 100% terrible for the space. 

So we kept looking. When we had narrowed our decision down to two potential couches, we went back to that same house (which thankfully was still empty). This time we used toilet paper (totally Dustin's idea) which gave a better overall idea of how different pieces would work in the space.

When our own house was finally to a point where we could truly start imagining the space we would live in, we mapped everything once more. Only this time, we mapped it ALL: the couch and chairs we had chosen, as well as potential tables and a rug. 

The brown square next to the toilet-paper couch is the top of an end table we were considering - using a real piece helped give better perspective.

 

Mapping our space gave us confidence in making purchases (especially when we ordered shipped pieces that would not have free returns). I think the only change we made once we had real furniture in the house was to up-size the rug. Otherwise, everything came together just like we toilet-papered it. 

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