Welcome to week four of How to Create a Decorating Plan.  This week, we’ll cover Step 4 – Decorating in Layers – Layer 2: Furniture.  You are now going to choose what type and style of furniture you need for your room.

Home Office

Lesson 1: Understanding Function and Form

Form follows function – No amount of pretty decorating and styling will transform an unworkable space into one that functions well.  In other words, there’s no use owning a sofa that looks good if you can’t get comfortable in it.  When choosing furniture it’s important to consider both function and form.

How to Plump your cushions


A piece of furniture must perform the function that you require of it.  For example, a sofa provides seating, and a cupboard provides storage.  But there’s more to it.

Say you’re after furniture to provide seating in your casual living area.  This is the room where you relax at night and maybe watch tv, or scroll through social media.  What sort of seating do you need?  Ask yourself are you a sofa or chair person?  Do you like to lie down, recline, sit up, put your feet up?  Do you like to rest your arms on arm rests?  It’s important when you choose furniture that it meets all of your needs.

Decorating with round rugs


Simply put, form are the lines, shape and size of an object.  Lines can be horizontal, vertical or diagonal.  They can be straight geometric lines, or curved organic lines.  Likewise shapes can be geometric like squares and rectangles, or organic natural shapes.

The size and shape of furniture will impact the room’s balance and harmony.  Sometimes you’ll see a room and it’s obvious that a piece of furniture is too big or small for the room.  It looks out of proportion.

The challenge when buying furniture is to find a piece that looks good in the room (form – is the right shape and size) and will meet your needs (function).

butchers block makeover Queenslander deck

Lesson 2: Create a Furniture List

The next step in the decorating plan is to identify and select what furniture you need in your room.  Some pieces may be existing and others you may need to source.

To create a furniture shopping list, it’s important to narrow down the options available to you by setting a buying criteria for each piece of furniture.  Try to buy furniture that satisfies all of your criteria. Download the Furniture Criteria Template from the Resource Library

DIY Silver Flower Box Table Centerpiece

You can narrow down your furniture choices by selecting criteria for the following:


Go back to how you use the room and identify each use, and what you need to to do that activity.  

Purpose: the purpose of the furniture is what you will use it for.  Example – sleep on a bed, sit on a sofa  

Function:  Now ask yourself how you will use that piece of furniture so you can identify all the functions it must perform, like in the sofa example above.  Your function criteria might be something like this:  I want a sofa that’s comfortable to sit on, supports my back, that I can lie down on fully, with a low arm rest.  I want a flat arm rest so I can place my iPad on it.  I like to put my feet up when I sit, so I’d like a chaise or an ottoman with the sofa.

How to display photo frames styling tip


Look at your vision for the room – Go back to your moodboard and identify colours, pattern, textures and shapes, materials (leather or upholstered).  How do you want the furniture to look in the room?

For each piece of furniture you need in your room, make a criteria list of  how you want it to look (form).

Size:  What size does the furniture need to be to fit in your room and meet the requirements of how you’ll use it?  Example: I need at least a 3 seater sofa to be able to lie down.  It can be up to 180cm to fit in my room.

Shape:  What shape does the furniture need to be?  Example: I want a sofa with clean straight lines

Material:  What material do you want the furniture to be?  Example: I want an upholstered sofa that’s warm to sit on in winter, and not sticky in summer.

Colour:  What colour do you want the furniture to be?  Example: I want a neutral coloured sofa that won’t date, and I’ll add colour and pattern in my cushions

Style:  Based on your personal style and vision for the room, what style or look do you want for the furniture.  Example: I want a classic style sofa with a relaxed Hamptons feel.

Your challenge is to find pieces of furniture that are the best fit for your form and function requirements.  By creating a furniture criteria list you will be able to focus your shopping on finding the right piece of furniture to meet your needs which makes shopping much easier and less overwhelming.  Work out what you are after (narrow down the selection criteria), then find what fits your budget.

Gold Christmas Table Setting

Furniture List

Write a list of all the furniture you need for your room.  Start with the large pieces of furniture, then you can fill the gaps around them with the smaller furniture items.  

Here’s an example for a living room:

  • Sofa
  • Armchairs x 2
  • Coffee Table 
  • Side tables (set-down points) x 1
  • Bar Cart
  • Storage cupboard

Start collecting images and dimensions of furniture you have or are thinking of buying, based on what meets your criteria.

Take measurements and photos of existing furniture that will be staying in the room (what you already have)

To test if furniture will work

  • Does it meet your needs/criteria?
  • Will it fit in your room (use floor plans and elevations to check dimensions)?
  • Does it work with your vision?  Use your moodboard.  If it doesn’t look right when you add it to your moodboard, it probably won’t look right when you add it to your room.

Keep working through your furniture list based on function, then form.

Lesson 3: Furniture Layout Plan

Once you have decided what furniture you need in the room, you will need to decide how you will arrange that furniture in the room.  Start by working out where the large pieces of furniture should go.  Often in a bedroom there is only one wall that will fit a queen or king size bed without blocking doorways or windows.  This is know as the “bed wall”.  Combine what will look good in the room with a good dose of common sense.  If you watch tv in the living room, you will want as much seating as possible to face the tv and have an unobstructed view.

Hamptons Bed Linen

The easiest way to see what furniture layout will work best in your room is to create a furniture plan on a copy of your floorpan.  You can draw the furniture items to the same scale as your room plan, cut them out and simply move them around the plan until you get an arrangement that works.  Much easier than physically moving all the furniture.

Tips for Creating a Furniture Floor Plan

  • Use a floor plan – hand draw or computer
  • Draw the shapes of your furniture to scale on a piece of card (or create in software)
  • Move them around on your floor plan and try to establish the best layout
  • Measure the furniture you own or would like to buy.  Check that they will fit where you want to put them in your room.
  • Allow for traffic flow – draw arrows that show where people have to walk or move around the room.  Don’t put furniture in the way of these pathways.

furniture arrangement tips

Read more tips – Solve My Problem – Furniture Arrangement Tips

If drawing is not your thing and you’re happy to move the furniture around, just play around with different layouts until you find the one that works best for your room.

Lesson 4: What to Look For when Buying Furniture

There is an incredible array of furniture available.  Both new and vintage/second-hand.  The key is to narrow down your choices .  There is so much on offer, it can be completely overwhelming.  By being clear on what you want based on your needs and your decorating plan, you can eliminate the unsuitable choices and just focus on the pieces that meet your criteria.

Shopping Tips

  • Whether you are shopping online or in person, the key is to have a plan before you start
  • When you first start looking, just scan what’s available to get a sense of what you can get
  • Do your research – now you have a rough idea of what’s available, dig a little deeper to find the right piece at the right price (this goes for all decor pieces, not just furniture)
  • As you find pieces that work, add them to your Shopping List (download from the Resource Library)

Where to look? This really depends on what your looking for and what sort of decorating style you have, but this page lists some of my Favourite Shops

Don’t be afraid to makeover a piece of old furniture to give it a new life.  I have plenty of vintage and second hand furniture in my home.  Read Guide for Painting Furniture

One should never be the oldest thing in one’s home – Patsy Stone, Absolutely Fabulous

Special Tips for Storage Furniture

We all need furniture that can store our “stuff”.  It’s important to plan your storage so it works for you.  Here are some things to consider when selecting storage furniture:

  • What do you need to store?
  • Do you want open storage or for it to be closed and out of sight?  If you have open storage you’ll need to keep the items on display neat as they are on show.
  • Do you want to display your possessions?
  • Cull before you begin?  Do you need more storage or just less stuff?
  • Built-in or freestanding storage?
  • What is the best way to store it so it’s easy and practical for you?
  • Containerise – dividers and compartments simplify storage and help keep your storage neat
  • Measure to make sure you can store what you need

Storage Unit

This IKEA unit is all open storage, but the baskets close the space and keep the items hidden.

Decorating Plan – Step 4

Based on the lessons above, you can add to your decorating plan for the room.  At this stage, your decorating plan will include:

  • List of existing furniture to be used in the room.  Add photos to your moodboard
  • Criteria List of new furniture to buy/source.
  • Furniture Shopping List – Add photos to your Moodboard
  • Furniture Layout Plan

Next week, we’ll cover Step 5 – Decorating in Layers – Layer 3: Home Decor.  Have a think about your decorating style and how much personality you want to add to your room.  Make sure you subscribe to our weekly newsletter so you get access to the free resources and don’t miss a post.

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How to Create a Decorating Plan