Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Arrangements for the New Year

On this last day of 2009, I hope everyone has been enjoying a cheery holiday season. I wish you all happiness and prosperity in the New Year, too! This beautiful floral surprise greeted us this morning. It seemed such a positive portent I wanted to share it.

As usual, for me, at this time of year, I feel the urge to do some redecorating. This year that means reorganizing furniture that was hastily placed when we moved. The dysfunction of those placements has quickly become apparent.

Usually, this blog is about saving money and, in some aspects, the environment. Today's blog is about saving time and energy – human energy, that is. After all, when it comes to rearranging furniture, there can be plenty of both spent. I've found a way to save these less tangible but nevertheless valuable resources. Adapting the idea from some home design shows, I created scale-sized cut-outs of our furniture on (thin) cardboard, and room layouts on graph paper to the same scale. These pieces are saved in an envelope until each redecorating bug hits me. Then, I use these pieces to arrange – and rearrange – furniture, in various orders and groupings, all without straining hubby's muscles...and patience.

To make your own cut-outs and floor plan, you'll need:

  1. Graph paper – I use 1/4-inch (approximately 6mm) [Download PDF file: Graph paper]
  2. Scrap cardboard, thin, non-corrugated – I use old file folders or worn out gift boxes
  3. Tape measure (25')
  4. Pencil
  5. Ruler
  6. Scissors
  7. Paste or glue (optional)

First, you'll need to decide on "scale." On 1/4-inch graph paper, I use the length of three squares to represent one linear foot. (Sorry for the imperial measures but the graph paper is older than my adult children.) Once you have decided on scale you'll need to measure and record the dimensions of all your furniture, appliances, and other items which take up floor-space. You'll only need to measure length and width, as height is irrelevant for most rooms. An exception would be rooms with bulk-heads or built-in cabinetry. You can take height measurements when the situation requires it.

Now, draw scale outlines of each piece of furniture on the graph paper. Trace that outline onto the cardboard, pressing hard to create a visible indentation. Cut out the cardboard pieces and label them (e.g. Sofa, desk, Grandma's side-board, etc.) If you wish, you can paste the graph paper pieces onto the cardboard, and then cut them out.

You'll make each room layout by first measuring and recording their proportions, and then draw those dimensions onto graph paper. If the room is large enough to necessitate it, you might have to tape two pages of graph paper together.

Initially, this project will be time-consuming as you measure, draw, and cut all your furniture pieces and room layouts. However, once they're created, a lot of time and energy can be saved. The only time you'll need to do any part of the scale-modeling process again is when you purchase new furnishings or move.

Finally, using the relevant furniture pieces and room layout, organize any room, moving things around and around until you achieve a pleasing and/or functional configuration. Then, you're ready to move furniture – once only! And, each time you feel the urge to redecorate those scale models are ready. Your helper(s) will thank you for sparing their backs...and tolerance!