I have discovered a relatively easy way to decide where to put my furniture - to experiment with different arrangements, to see how a particular arrangement will flow, work, and look - without having to call up a bunch of friends to help me (or drag the sofa back and forth by myself)!
Creating a scale drawing of the room you plan to rearrange (as well as scale cutouts of the furniture you will be arranging) takes a little time up front, but is worth it in the long run.
I have also used this technique upon first moving into an apartment, to decide where the furniture goes in the first place. It is easier to measure the rooms before I have all my crap in them, in any case. :-)
Okay - are you totally pumped for this? Let's begin with Step 1 - Gathering Necessary Tools And Materials. All right, let's move!
Step 1: Gather necessary tools and materials
(NOTE: All dimensions given in Imperial units, as this instructable was created in the U.S. - one of only three countries in the world that does not currently use the metric system. So if you live anywhere but the U.S., Liberia, or Burma, congratulations! You will have a MUCH easier time doing the scaling required for this little project. If you live in the U.S., Liberia, or Burma, don't fret - it's still possible. just a little more inconvenient.) :-)
Materials: For this Instructable, you will need the following tools/materials:
1. Graph paper. I used a standard pad of 8 1/2" x 11", blue-lined paper. The pad I used was made by Gold Fibre, and had graph paper on one side of each sheet, and lined paper on the back of each sheet. Also, it is helpful to use a pad that has perforated edges, in case you want to remove sheets for storage later. (More on this in later steps.)
2. #2 pencil.. Use a sharp pencil, okay? And a clean eraser is important here! Drafting is often trial and error, especially when you're dealing with scaling. I have used this technique probably 20 times before doing this instructable, and still had to erase due to math mistakes, crooked lines, etc. Precision is relatively important in this instructable, so feel free to let the little perfectionist inside you run wild. :-)
3. Tape measure. I used a 25' Craftsman tape with a 1" heavy-duty blade. The length of the tape is driven by the size of the room you plan to rearrange furniture in. The room I measured (my living room) is 18 1/2' x 14', so obviously a 10' tape would not have been sufficient. If you don't even have a rough idea of how big the room is, I would recommend at least a 25' tape. The heavy duty blade isn't necessary, but it saves time when measuring long distances (a heavy duty tape doesn't bend and curl up as easily as the thinner, cheaper tape measures that sometimes come with small home repair kits.)
4. Scratch paper. You will use this to record measurements, work out long division, doodle when you get bored of doing math, and other fun manual stuff. You can use a sheet of your graph paper, if you don't mind wasting it. I recommend against napkins - they are hard to read, and you don't want to lose any important data to a mustard stain.
5. Scissors. You will be using these to cut out the scale drawings you make of your furniture. Sharp craft or kitchen scissors will be perfect! Safety scissors might work, but... seriously? You need those?
6. Ruler with a clean, straight edge. You will be using this to draw the outlines of the room and the furniture on the graph paper, and possibly to help you measure small distances on the graph paper. I would suggest a solid aluminum or steel ruler without divots along the edges, to ensure that your lines stay straight. (Did I mention that I'm a perfectionist? Is it obvious yet?) :-)
7. Calculator (not pictured). The software calculator on your computer will work just fine. A calculator isn't a requirement, but if you want to avoid doing long division by hand, it will be helpful.
8. Envelope. This is where you will store the small, delicate paper cutouts of your furniture, if you choose to keep them. Otherwise, they will get probably get lost, ripped, crushed, or thrown away. (Hey, life's not fair sometimes.) I suggest a different envelope for each room's worth of furniture you draft.
9. File folder or Manila Envelope (not pictured). Some sort of file folder is useful to store your drafted room along with the envelope containing all your little furniture pieces. If you draft three rooms in your house, you could have three file folders - one for each room! This way the pieces don't get mixed up, and you always know where your scale drawings are if you ever decide to rearrange! (If you have a file cabinet, that is.) Again, I suggest a different file folder/manila envelope for each room you plan to draw to scale.
If you've gathered the nine items listed above, we're ready to rock and roll! Let's get started with Step 2 - Measure Your Room.