Space Planning is Essential


By Chris Kittrell, CID Allied Member ASID

This dining room, designed by Chris Kittrell, accommodates up to 10 guests plus a serving buffet through careful space planning.

Space planning is at the heart of every great room design, be it large or small. It’s the first and the most essential step for updating rooms, even if you’re taking a cosmetic approach with new furniture, window treatments, flooring and so on. A space plan and hiring a well-qualified designer are the first priorities.   

If you’re remodeling and adding space, the space plan reflects the rooms’ purposes and furniture arrangements, as opposed to planning the “new space” and later trying to figure out what to fit into it.

When building a new home, a careful examination of plans before they are approved and before the framing stage occurs is critical.


Here are 10 Tips for Effective Space Planning

This small sized, but award-winning kitchen, has well-planned cabinetry and ceiling height glass splash to add height to the room.

1. Ask yourself, “What do you want this room to do?” or “What’s not working in this space?” and “Why do we want a change – what feels off balance?”

2. Lifestyle discussions with clients play a huge part in space planning. What activities will occur in each space? How many people will be using the rooms for various reasons and what are your lifestyle and entertainment needs – formal or informal?

3. The space planning process begins with measurements of each room and/or the use of blue prints to evaluate available space and create circulation paths. Furniture arrangements are designed to fulfill lifestyle needs, then specific home furnishings can be recommended.

4. Focal points should be considered for each room and furniture arrangements grouped to accentuate them. These might include pieces of art, a fireplace or the view – our magnificent ocean, coastline and sunset views need to be accentuated, so consider furniture placement to not impede these. 

5. Media rooms boast big flat screen TVs these days; this room is a hub of activity and should incorporate comfortable furniture for family and friends to enjoy. Creature comforts can also include an under-cabinet refrigerator or beverage cooler, microwaves and trash pullouts, so the space is self-contained.

6. Kitchens require a high degree of space planning and layout expertise to create the best possible layout. Focal points in kitchens can be wall hoods, island hoods, framed decorative tile or garden vistas from the kitchen windows. Opening up the kitchen to an adjacent great room can create “rooms within rooms” that function well for your particular lifestyle and entertainment needs.

7. Bathrooms have focal points, too. It might be a garden or an ocean view from the tub, a landscape vista visible from the steam shower, a two-way fireplace shared between bedroom and bath, or artwork hung above the tub. Spa-like designs for the bath include cosmetic towers to eliminate the need for medicine cabinets, towel warmers, built-in coffee makers, wine refrigerators, and creating self-contained luxurious spaces.

8. Outdoor spaces. Consider an outdoor kitchen, fire pit, Jacuzzi tub, casual bar seating and a casual dining table – these outdoor areas require a space plan just like indoor spaces, to blend the two seamlessly while extending your living spaces.

9. Consider your options. Most designers consider space planning a fun puzzle to be solved. Try out different space plans before narrowing it down to one or two solutions.

10. Lighting plans can be defined after a successful space plan is agreed upon and confirmed.


Spatial relationships and the ability to design them distinguish designers from decorators. Designers offer professional guidance, a full discussion of lifestyle needs, wants and activities, then put a plan into place that works with your budget so you can enjoy your rooms for many years to come. Space planning is truly at the heart of every great room design.


Reach Chris Kittrell at Kittrell & Associates Interior Design, 949.737.5511. Email her at and visit