Analyze Your Space

interior design analysis

The first step in interior design is always to analyze your space.

The very first step in the interior design process, is to analyze your space and structure. It doesn’t matter if you are working with drawing for new construction or working with an existing space, you have to understand the set criteria that you are working within.

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There are always the same space issues to note, and then after you have evaluated all the parameters, you can decide on how to proceed.

1. The physical size and scale

To undergo any design project, you have to evaluate the existing size of the space. Or if it is new construction, the proposed size on plan. In the design and architecture world, you will hear the term scale. Scale means size but also the proportion of elements to one another. Try not to be thrown by these terms as they are often used interchangeably. The term scale also refers to the three-sided ruler used in measuring plans.

The size or scale of the space is then noted in dimensions. The spatial dimensions you need to note are the width, depth and height of a room as well as any variations. Record the location and size of windows, door/wall openings and special features such as fireplaces, as well as where they are oriented in the room. Be sure to locate electrical outlets, lighting switches and built-in light fixtures, fans and vents.

Your spatial dimensions are critical to everything you do and should be written down accurately. These dimensions will determine the layout for function, as well as properly sized furnishings. They will also affect the quantity of materials you might need to order which will affect anything from flooring to window coverings. I suggest keeping them in a design log, journal or planner as well as on drawings.

2. The orientation or exposure

The orientation of the space refers to compass location of the space as well as where it is located in proximity to other rooms. Compass location means that it is south facing or if, for example, a room receives morning light that would be eastern exposure. Or perhaps you have a room without windows, you could say no exposure. Orientation also means how it is related to other rooms. A powder room could be adjacent to a family room and opening directly into a main hallway.

Exposure is important because of the quality of light and time of day. Natural light can take on different hues or undertones depending on the exposure. Northern and eastern exposures are less intense and have a cooler quality. This will have an effect on paint and colors of materials. Conversely, a western or southern exposure will have a more intense and warmer quality to the light.

This is one reason why it is important to test colors by bringing samples into the room. Seeing them in a store or showroom is not enough. Especially when referring to paint.

Adjacency to other rooms is important because you can determine function of the space. For example, if the powder room is right next to a family room, you may want to consider the interior décor as something that you might see when the room is not in use, consider color, or if have the ability to remodel, you may consider the option of relocating a doorway if that is an option.

3. Architectural elements

The architectural elements of a space are structural features. Ceiling details, arches, posts and beams, crown or wainscoting details, fireplaces and staircases, built-in cabinetry etc. Noting location and scale of these elements are important. When you collect these notes in your design journal you should also include images when possible.

4. Existing finishes

Existing finishes denotes what is currently in the space that is not furniture. Examples could be: grey carpet, natural finished maple hardwood flooring, tile surround fireplace and hearth with a white mantle, wood wrapped windows and white painted crown and base molding. Finishes do not refer to furnishings. That will be addressed in another phase and should not be included in the space analysis.

5. Exterior considerations

This refers to features or possible hindrances to the site/space. Does it have filtered light from adjacent trees or foliage blocking the windows? Does the room offer a view or is there a view that isn’t desirable, and you would want to block or filter? Is there an exit or egress? Are there sufficient windows in the space? Is there an outside structure that is a bonus or hindrance such as a deck, a patio, or a large overhead structure?

These elements can have an impact on the quality of light, function and the overall feel of the space.

For all of these elements, you will want to be sure to note sizes/scale and include images as much as possible.

Try to conduct the analysis in a fact-finding and sorting kind of way, not an emotional/feeling manner. This will help from hindering you in the next steps.

Whatever your project might be, these elements are all fixed and relevant to the design process, so noting them, in the beginning, will help you get off to the right start on the right foot!

Happy Designing 😊

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