Chapter Seven: Furniture and Fittings

Discover how to add the key features to your interior space with Chapter Seven of Design School, a guide to choosing the perfect furniture and fittings.


Design School

Furniture should be functional; no matter how stylish, if it doesn’t meet your needs it won’t last long in your home. Choosing the right furniture is as much about understanding your needs as it is about understanding your style. Purchasing pieces that are fit for purpose should be your first priority.

This chapter is all about the practical things you need to know when choosing furniture and fittings that work for you. We’ll talk you through the advantages of custom-built fixtures and share expert tips to help you plan your layout and arrange your furniture to make your space a success.

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01.Planning the layout

The right furniture layout will help create an interesting and practical space. Whether you’re adding one or two new items or starting from scratch, how you choose to layout your furniture is important; no matter how thoughtful your room design is, if the furniture isn’t fit for purpose the room just won’t work.

Take the time to plan the layout carefully before you invest in any new pieces – you can do this by using newspaper or masking tape to mark out the dimensions of your furniture on the floor or by using an online tool to help you visualise how it will all look and avoid costly mistakes.

Your layout isn’t just about physically fitting all the furniture into a room – it’s also about proportion. There should be ample room to move around but pieces must be close enough to facilitate conversation and any other activities that need to take place in the space.

To help make sure your final layout works take into account:

A room with too much furniture squeezed into one area will feel unbalanced. Find the centre of the room and use this as your starting point – a balanced room will have furniture placed in each half of the space.

Think about how you can use symmetry to create harmony in your space. Adding symmetry can be as simple as positioning armchairs on either side of a fireplace or placing matching bedside tables on either side of the bed – the end result is a room that feels balanced and proportional.

Traffic flow
Your furniture should never obstruct the flow of traffic in a room or from one space to another. Arrange your room so the most frequently used items and areas are easy to access – mark out the path of traffic in and out of a room and make sure nothing is in the way.

Your furniture makes a style statement but, first and foremost, it must be practical. If you can’t sit comfortably at your table because it’s too close to a wall or can’t see the television without craning your neck from the sofa, your layout isn’t working.

Your layout should be welcoming – consider what you see when you walk into the space and whether the furniture is arranged so that you feel inspired to come in. The side of a dresser or back of a chair shouldn’t be the first thing you see when you walk through the doorway; consider the first impression your layout is making.

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02.Think about scale

The size and layout of your room are the two most important factors when determining whether a piece of furniture will or won’t work. Large furniture will help a large space feel proportional, while more delicate furniture will help a smaller room feel spacious and open.

Consider the size of your room and how the furniture you choose can help manage your space. For example, a large L-shaped sofa can help divide an open-plan room, while a low back sofa will help prevent a small room from feeling cramped.

Next, consider each piece of furniture’s relationship to the other items in the room. For your space to work, the furniture needs to fit each other – like choosing bedside tables roughly the same height as your bed, for example.

An interesting space will have a mix of furniture at different heights and weights. How you pair pieces can make all the difference – a large wall hanging above a short table or sofa will draw the eye upwards and create the illusion of height.

The largest piece of furniture in your room design is a good place to start. Understand what your key features and pieces of furniture are and choose other pieces that will complement and show them to their best advantage.

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03.Arranging your furniture

Once you’ve picked out all your furniture and planned your layout, the last step is to arrange each element in the space. Taking the time to thoroughly plan your layout before making any purchases will avoid any surprises in the final stages. Make sure:

  • There is enough room to walk around furniture.
  • Doors open easily without banging into any pieces.
  • There is enough space to open drawers easily or access shelves.
  • You can push your chair in and out from the table and sit comfortably without banging walls.
  • Leather furniture isn’t too close to any radiators.

04.Choosing custom made

Made to measure furniture and custom-built fittings can make an unusual space more functional and create a room that seamlessly fits your lifestyle. It’s a great opportunity to showcase your style and can help you make the best use of both your space and budget.

Custom-made fittings are no longer exclusive; today it’s possible to get custom fitted kitchens, bathrooms, wardrobes and bookshelves all within budget and work with professionals who can help you maximise your space and make the most of your home.

Choosing custom-built furniture is an easy way to make sure you have everything you need and nothing you don’t. In high traffic areas like the kitchen and bathroom, where storage is important and every square inch counts, custom-built fittings are one of the simplest ways to ensure your room is both functional and stylish. The key to success is knowing what you need your fittings to accomplish; without a clear vision of the style you are looking for and how you need your fittings to facilitate daily life, you won’t be able to create a solution that works for you.

Before you seek out the professionals, take the time to analyse your room and make a checklist of what your new fittings need to accomplish. It can be anything from creating a kitchen island for quick, informal breakfasts or a windowed cabinet to put crockery and glassware on display.

Next, work out your budget. In many cases, custom-built items will replace traditional pieces of furniture but take into account how the added cost of labour will pay for itself in terms of longevity.

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