How Much Space You Need (and What to Do if You Don't Have It)
Get tips on allowing ample room for traffic flow through kitchens, dining rooms, living rooms and other areas
While we often want to fit the largest dining table possible into our spaces to allow for better entertaining, ultimately if your table takes up so much room that your family or your guests can’t easily get to and from their seat, nobody will have a good time.
The best-case scenario is to have 106 to 120 centimetres of space all the way around the table. But since at least one side of the table is usually also a passageway into and out of the room, you should ideally have 152 centimetres of space or more on that side. This will greatly reduce the chance of collisions when one person attempts to walk by while another happens to pull out a chair.
First, it might be best to reconsider the size and shape of the table you’re attempting to fit. Choosing a table that seats two to four fewer guests but leaves a bit more circulation space might be the better bet. You can also choose a round or oval table to free up space in the corners of the room so only a short stretch is actually tight to the wall.
You can then use some strategic positioning of an art piece and hanging lights to make the table still feel like it follows a logical centre line.
Choosing and hanging your dining room light
The key measurements you need to know for the perfect dining room
Ideally, between the desk and the nearest wall or obstacle you will have at least 122 centimetres of depth to allow for the chair to be pulled out and tucked in easily. This is the standard distance behind a desk in office design.
Consider converting a closet to a desk niche to give yourself an extra 61 to 71 centimetres of space. You can still use the upper portion as shelf storage, stashing items in attractive baskets, and you can even keep the doors or a curtain rod in place to allow you to close off the office when not in use.
In a living room, there are multiple distances to consider relative to your sofa, so it easily can become a tricky web of math. Here are a few sofa distance essentials to keep in mind.
- Distance from sofa to coffee table: 40 to 45 centimetres
- Distance from sofa to opposite sofa or chairs: 213 to 274 centimetres max (to allow for ease of conversation)
- Width of pathway through room: 91 centimetres
- Distance from TV to sofa: width of TV times 2.75
Rather than resigning yourself to a life of bumping your shins, consider eliminating the typical coffee table and using a variety of smaller, more movable tables in the space instead. Nesting tables and small stools can free up some space while allowing you to pull up a surface when needed to rest a drink, or to push one farther away to rest your feet.
Sometimes the last resort is to eliminate the coffee table altogether. End tables on either side of each seating piece will serve effectively the same purpose without filling up the centre of the room.
See more key measurements for a living room
For ease of use in the kitchen, the island surface should be within relatively easy reach and not too far from the fridge, stove or sink. However, it should also not be so close to the main counters that you don’t feel like you can turn around without bumping into something.
A distance of 91 to 107 centimetres between the island and the main counters works well for a kitchen with a single cook; 122 centimetres will be better for a kitchen that will see two home chefs working in tandem.
Also note that an island with stools should be treated like a dining table on that side. You should have at least 122 centimetres free to allow people to sit and move while others walk by.
There’s no rule saying that your island must be nearly as long as your counters. Consider using a more square island to provide a second prep space without blocking any appliances and leaving less of the kitchen feeling crammed.
This small island opposite the sink is probably all the space you would truly need for routine tasks like chopping vegetables or whisking a liquid.
See more key measurements for planning a kitchen
In a dream bedroom, you would have at least 91 centimetres of space to allow for ease of movement and to create an open and airy effect. As a more strict minimum, 61 centimetres will allow you the space you need to make the bed and get in and out without much hassle.
Consider eliminating one or more bedside tables, or using a floating shelf as a table, to make the whole area feel a little roomier.
This is another situation where asymmetrical placement may be best, as it’s better to have one side of the bed easier to access and one cramped than to have both cramped, so making the bed becomes virtually an impossible task.
How do you arrange your furniture to maximise space? Share your ideas in the Comments section.
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