How to Interior Design a Living Room Part I

Unleash Your Inner Interior Designer - The Secrets to Designing Like a Pro

You may have some ideas on how to interior design your living room, but you’re unsure of how to get started… You look at your space, but can’t seem to really translate what’s in your head to the space around you, right? Here is why – there’s too much STUFF in the way! You know – stuff – your current furniture, lighting and accessories. You’re so used to “seeing” your room in one way, you can’t imagine it any other way.

When I walk into your room, I don’t even notice your “stuff,” I only notice the possibilities.

You have to strip your room to the bare bones to get to the basics, fundamentals and essentials of interior design. To start from scratch you don’t have to literally strip your room, so keep your pants on, but you do need to clear your mind of the preconceived notion of your current situation and start fresh with a blank mental canvas.

Want to know how? I’ll tell you! Here’s how designers start from scratch – by sketching your design, getting inspirations for your design and researching the right products for the function and use of your room. In this three part design blog series, you’ll get all the steps on how to design your living room like a real interior designer professional and get it right the first time. I promise.

How to Interior Design a Living Room: TOOLS AND SUPPLIES

Every designer has her “secret tools” and you’ll need some of these basic necessities, too. You may have seen designers madly sketching away, moving the ruler to and fro. It is an art and I spent many arduous hours in college learning this craft. But never fear – all you need are the basics and I’m going to show you how to make a simple “floor plan” for yourself. Armed with this floor plan, you’ll never make the mistake of purchasing the wrong furniture again.

First, you need some tools and supplies. You may have some of these supplies already but if not, go to your local office supply store or art supply store and purchase:


This will cost you about $30.00


Here is some graph paper for you. Just click here and print half a dozen sheets  

TIP: Utrecht Art Supply is my favorite art store, but Office Max or Staples will have everything you need.

How to Interior Design a Living Room: START WITH A PLAN


Space planning is the term used by interior designers to describe the process of laying out your room from a birds eye view with the intent to find the the best function and flow for your space.

If you’ve ever looked closely at a floor plan, you may have noticed that there is a scale. It usually says ¼” = 1’. This means that every 1/4 inch on your ruler is equal to 1 foot in real life when drawn on the paper.

Great news – your newly purchased graph paper already has the “scale” baked in. Each square measures ¼” and represents one foot of area in your room. So let’s get started.

  1. Use a pencil, sketch out the existing layout & be sure to include the locations of all windows, doors,
    and closets.
  2. Use a tape measure to measure each wall, corner to corner. It’s easier to hold the tape measure on
    the floor to measure.
  3. Write down the sizes and locations (and heights if applicable) of each window, door, doorway,
    closet, electrical, media outlets, ceiling and wall fixtures including… a pass-thru, built-in bookcases,
    any radiators, closets, alcoves, or wall projections, etc.
  4. Measure and write down the ceiling height.Now, measure each window from the floor to the bottom
    of the window, and again from the floor to the top of the window. Then measure the width of the
    window and write down all those measurements.

Hint: There are lots of apps out there to measure your room electronically, but I find it harder to figure out the app and in the time it would take you to figure out how to use the darn things, you could have it all done by hand (plus you feel really accomplished and artsy when you draw by hand)

Below are typical furniture dimensions. Dimensions of actual pieces that you select may vary, but furniture that is greatly different from these examples will most likely be uncomfortable and impractical. Also, the activities engaged in and the size and the shape of the room will affect the selection and arrangement of the appropriate furniture



Here are four basic principals for a room layout but first, ask yourself these questions:

How will I use the space: media, conversation, reading?

Who will use the space: children, adults, pets?

What are the general traffic patterns

What is the focal point – fireplace, television, windows?

Do I need storage – bookcases, media console, toy chests?

How much daylighting do I have?

Consider the layouts in the following four sketches. A typical room can function well when arranged according to one of these design principals. Place your room “envelope” that you drew on the graph paper on a tabletop and tape down the corners. Now take out your tablet of trace paper and place one sheet over the top of your graph paper. It is time to start sketching out your room. Don’t erase, just remove the trace and put a fresh piece of trace over the graph paper and sketch some more. Keep going until you feel like you have a good space plan.





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INSPIRATION: is a web site and online community about architecture, interior design and decorating, landscape design and home improvement. Search for images by professional designers to get inspiration.

While you’re at it, you can follow me –

There you did it! You have the floor plan for your room. Next week, we will figure out how to find just the right pieces of furniture, fixtures, and accessories

By the way, this is what  I do when you schedule a Remodel Clarity Session. We pull out our graph paper and measuring tape and sketch out your room. Then we put trace paper over the top and lay-out two to three design concepts. You get to keep these “space plans” (along with all the other copious notes we take) for your future use. Interested? Check it out here –


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