Episode 356: Tricky Floor Plans & Design Styles

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Happy holidays. Great to be back with you. If you’re watching on YouTube, you notice I have a little extra festivity, a little more bling. I’m wearing big ole earrings as I lean hard into the season’s spirit! I am dazzling myself and my home for this fantastic moment in time, which basically takes place between Thanksgiving and the holiday season in December, when I just really lean hard to nesting, decorating, and making the home feel cozy and getting ready for, in my case, Christmas. 

My other favorite thing about this time of year is the parties. Now I own my own business. So we have a virtual party during COVID. Because everybody that works for me is virtual, whether or not we’re close together. And we rarely get a chance to meet together. So we will have a party in January. But I love going to other people’s parties because I don’t have to plan or host them. And it’s just such a festive time. 

Without further ado, let me get to the questions that are already in my mailbag. 

This episode, we discuss…

[8:17] Help planning an open space with a diagonal wall (Kristen)


I need help planning an open area with a diagonal wall, windows and sliding glass door. I want space to function as a family room with TV, perhaps add a fireplace, and a formal dining area. Thank you in advance!



All right, Kristen. So you know, the one thing I don’t do on this podcast is give very specific floor plan advice because I have a method that I use for finding the perfect floorplan every time those of you listening who are in the academy know what I’m referring to. It’s called My master layout system. And I never create a floor plan whether it’s for a client or myself without doing my due diligence and completely going through the entire system.

Because this is a podcast, I am not going to go through that whole system with you now because it’s not everybody’s jam and it’s a little bit technical, it is for the pros, and not necessarily something you just want to hear somebody drone on and on about. That being said, there are going to be things that you need to be mindful of as you’re designing this space. This is a very tricky space and guys, I’m gonna do my best to explain it to you but the best way to envision Kristen space is to go to our YouTube channel Affordable Interior Design on YouTube. 

Let me describe it briefly. So it is a very large open room with a beautiful wall of sliders on one side, kind of facing an L shaped kitchen with an island. Then as you move counterclockwise around the space, you’ve got like this TV area, or at least in the rendering, there’s a TV, but it sounds like that could be open. Then right across from the TV area, you’ve got this wall that has this big black thing on it. And I’m going to assume that the big black trapezoid is a fireplace holder, I’m not sure if that is supposed to be a fireplace? The floorplan keeps it very open. 

But basically between the angled wall that has the black trapezoid/fireplace. And between the straight wall which has the TV, there is a walkway which looks like a pretty major thoroughfare from the hallway to the rest of the house to the kitchen area. We have a number of challenges with this space. But the very first thing I want you to think about are walkways, because we don’t want to obstruct major arteries in the house with clogging furniture, right?

If I’m bringing these groceries in from the front door every day and going down that hallway, if I have to go around a sectional, if I have to make this huge detour past a coffee table past a formal dining table just to get to the island where I can finally drop my bags I am exhausted and the room is not working. I’m going to share a solution that’s a little bit off the wall, no pun intended. 

But I do want you to do your due diligence. And the crux of the master layout system is that you try every possible option, keeping your mind completely open and locking in only once you’ve eliminated options. So it’s basically if you want to change the name of the game, the process of elimination method, right? We want to start with the things we know for sure, work our way around so that we can eliminate all the possibilities and land on the one that works. That way when you’re buying the furniture and putting it in the right places. You know with confidence, yes, this is the best place for this piece because x y, z.

I recommend if you’re going to have a dining table in here that you would have it somewhat close to the kitchen area. That only makes sense. So I’m not carrying platters and dishes and blah, blah, blah everywhere. So that means it would go roughly in front of the slider, either parallel to the slider or perpendicular to the slider which is directly opposite the kitchen and by the island. I think that makes total sense. I think it’s going to work out really well. If you want this to be a family room, then we need a lot of seating, right? 

Typically we need to see at least four, maybe six. And we need a TV and you’ve told me you want a fireplace. When I hear that we need a lot of seating. I think sectional because in a family room, you can be more casual sectionals are typically a more casual look, a lounge look, if you will. And I also want us all to be together. In other words, not being on separate little chair islands. 

But all together on the sectional without having to touch, I want my elbow room. But I also want to reach over and snuggle you if I want to and a sectional is great for that. But the problem is that we only have one or potentially two with the angled walls, usable walls in here that are not broken up with kitchen cabinets, Windows or the sliding door, right? Ideally, we wouldn’t occupy both walls one with a TV and one with a fireplace with two focal points that are opposite each other. 

So there’s no ideal seating placement where I can look at both at the same time, which is ideal, right? You don’t want to be turning back and forth and back and forth. Nor do I want to have my back to one of the focal points be at the fireplace or the TV, of course, I’m going to throw out a crazy suggestion. The large unbroken wall that currently has the TV in the rendering, I think could be a very interesting spot to put a sectional and then have the shorter arm of that sectional parallel to the island in the kitchen. I think that could be a really interesting flow that then faces the angled wall that would house the fireplace and the TV. 

And you’re saying Betsy the TV is on an angle. How am I going to see it on the sectional I would recommend doing a swivel mount. That way you can swivel it to the sectional. Now there are a number of ways to create this floorplan and that is only my first impression which I never go with. I always exhaust all options, but you’re asking me for a quick thought. And there’s not going to be many options in this very challenging room with walkways, doorways, kitchen with dining room, we have a lot of limitations. 

So you doing your own due diligence certainly would not come amiss. But I also think the way that I’ve devised this plan could really work and would keep it nice and open and play to the room’s strengths without making the space feel awkward. 


[17:02] How do I warm up my space while keeping it simple? (Stacey) 


I have just remodeled my house and as you can see everything is white and bright. I like clean, simple design, no clutter. I’m a bit OCD. I do not know what my two phrase design is , but I would like to add some things (barstools, side board, something for the foyer) to warm up the space while keeping it simple. Please Help!!



Stacy, you mentioned that I can see what you’re talking about. There are no pictures attached. So I can’t see. But you can either write back and send me some pictures. That’s one path or you don’t have to do that. Either way. I’m going to give you some advice right now that I think will help you on your path and help others on their path to discovering their two word phrase. 

The two word phrase is a touchstone that you need to refer back to every time you make a purchase. Every time you make a selection, is this either a style word or the feeling word I have chosen for this space? And if it’s not, then it doesn’t fit in this space, right? 

So my entire downstairs, because it’s all open to each other, is mid century modern. That’s the style word. And the feeling word is fancy. Because the house has a lot of ornate carvings. It’s old. And it just feels a little bit fancy. And I want to rise to meet it. Mid Century Modern can feel so pedestrian and can feel so simple in a beautiful way. But it doesn’t feel fancy. And I want some ornamentation. 

I want some carving because it would look strange to have a house full of bland plain furniture and have the walls have all this ornate carving on it. Right. So that’s my two word phrase. And I have been feeling the longer I work on this project, the more I need to hang on to it because I just start looking at things that light me up. But don’t reinforce the vision. And the longer your shopping list, the more opportunities there are for you to get off track. So having that two word phrase is so important. 

So use the two word phrase as a touchstone. You can have different two word phrases for different rooms in your home. But if you do have an open space that connects it does need to share the two word phrase with the other spaces in order to create that cohesive feel as you go from open room to open room. Now you’re saying I don’t know what my phrase is. The key in my case was going and looking at inspiration photos. I started by googling the style of my home, which is an English manor house. I googled it because the architecture is very significant in terms of having a dominating presence. And I want to see how other people have solved that riddle. 

So I started there, right. And then I found some pictures that were very colorful, that were moody that had the vibe I was going for and I translated that because a lot of the pictures had antiques, and I didn’t want to go that direction fully. But I wanted to have the opportunity to bring in antique touches or a gold gilded frame that I found at an auction mixed with a mid century modern sofa that I got from Crate and Barrel. This is the vibe I’m going for. And this is the intention I come back to each time I’m shopping. 

The key is to find those images and then find the through line, pick three to eight of your favorite images and find that through line. Oh wait, there’s mid century modern touches in here. But there’s also a lot of ornate filigree or wait, I know I love mid century modern and always want to design in that way. But I also know that this space needs more ornamentation, needs heavy pattern and embroidery. How am I going to make those to work?

 The key is spending time at the beginning, finding that path, creating that two word phrase so that you’re designing from a real foundation of clarity. Then you can go shopping to all these different places and know instantly what’s going to work and what’s not gonna work. Spend the time upfront finding that phrase, even if you have to ask a friend to have a glass of wine, look at houses together to find some images that really light you up and work with the architecture. 






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