I have a confession to make. In case you didn't already know, I'm a huge dork. I absolutely adore furniture layouts. My last semester of college, when I was bored in class I would literally sketch furniture groupings (in plan and perspective) using the furniture I knew Alex and I would have in our first apartment together. Not only do I obsess about my own apartment and furnishings, but I have this slightly embarrassing habit of imagining how I might rearrange other people's furniture when I visit their homes. Of course I don't usually share my spatial musings out loud (hey, it's their house anyway -- they should do what they want), but I get a lot of enjoyment out of re-imagining each space. Rearranging existing pieces in a room can have such a dramatic impact on the feeling and flow of a space. Plus, I like the challenge of having to work with pieces that someone may already own. That being said, I wanted to share a sketch of my apartment floor plan and furniture layout. In total, Alex and I only have 5 new pieces of furniture in our entire apartment -- the couch, Stockholm chair, media center, drafting table in our office, and the entry table. The rest of it was all either passed down from our parents, belonged to us in our childhood, or we bought in college. All in all, every piece is functional and the spaces generally flow well. Here's the plan:
I sketched this thing on napkins for weeks before I actually assembled it. I'll be posting more pictures of the bedrooms and smaller storage spaces soon, but I wanted to share this first to help orient you.
If you're someone that has difficulty visualizing furniture placement, I would recommend trying to make a floor plan before you rearrange the furniture 12 times. There are free tools online like floorplanner.com that you can use to draw up a quick plan. Also, speaking as someone who has worked in architecture offices for a few years, good designers will often draw furniture layouts when they're planning a space to make sure it functions the way they intend it to. Even if you weren't involved in the design process of your home, there are ways to tell where the architect/designer would have intended for your furniture to go:
1) Sill height - Say your living room or bedroom has windows on more than one wall. If you compare the windows and one of them has a significantly higher sill height, that could be an indication that the architect was anticipating a couch or a headboard to be placed underneath that window.
2) Outlet + cable receptacle placement - This was a major clue for me in our master bedroom. In our room, there was one wall that had two outlets and one phone jack that were quite obviously placed a queen size bed's width apart -- perfectly placed for alarm clocks on nightstands. There had also been a cable jack installed on the wall directly opposite. Naturally, it made the most sense to take advantage of the outlet placement and arrange the furniture accordingly rather than running extension cords everywhere. Of course, it doesn't always work out as nicely if you're using the room for a slightly different purpose (like we are in our guest room/office) but it's a start.
3) Light fixture placement - I think this feature is most pertinent in places like the dining room. If you have an overhead fixture in a dining room, generally the table is supposed to go underneath it (to avoid unnecessary head injuries). Occasionally, I've seen light fixtures that were installed by misguided homeowners or contractors and were placed without considering the furniture layout. If you've inherited this situation, it's fairly easy to "swag" a chandelier over a table with a ceiling hook.
Those clues in addition to considerations like door swings, light entry, traffic flow, and the overall space available are certainly things to pay attention to when planning your space. Oh and if you need a little help, please let me know.