You can see why a floor plan could help you work out your ideas, but the whole thing just seems too complicated! If thinking of scales and calculations brings back bad memories of geography and maths combined then don’t fear, the following steps will have you measuring and drawing in no time.

To help, I’ve included step-by-step instructions and useful tips that people often forget.

This will take you about 10 minutes to do the measuring and then 20 mins to draw it up in scale…

1. Draw an outline of the shape of the walls of the room on some plain paper.
Imagine your room as a bird’s eye view; as if you are looking straight down on it.  Include any alcoves or bits that stick out. Don’t worry about getting the proportions correct – this is just a rough plan.

2. Measure the first section of wall using your metal tape measure.
Most proper plans will have dimensions in mm, which can get a bit confusing, especially for larger measurements:

2030mm anyone?
Nope, not 2m 30cm, but 2m 3cm and easy to confuse. It’s easy to make a mistake so for room plans I use cm as this gives me enough detail in most situations.

TIP: Pay attention to skirting boards in alcoves. If you measure the width at the wall and then find a piece of furniture you may discover it’s too big if you forgot to take into account the skirting boards so the base of the furniture won’t fit.

Often this level of detail is only needed if you have a particular task, eg built in storage but it’s good to get into the habit of marking your dimension as F for floor or W for wall.


3. Work around the room noting all the dimensions on your rough plan.
It’s easier to have the tape measure resting on the floor, especially if you are doing this on your own.

4. Note the positions of all fixed items.
Include doors, windows, radiators, power sockets and which way any doors or cupboards open.

5. Decide on scale
Here’s the scary maths bit made not so scary! This guide will help you select the right scale for your room:

scales for plans



6. Draw up an accurate version using your rough drawing and measurements.
You can use graph paper for this, or plain paper so you get a clearer picture of the space. Keep one master clean version and make multiple copies if you want to play around with alternative furniture arrangements.

My favourite way to draw up a plan is just to use the layout (not word processing) option in Pages on my Mac. If you’re not used to this it will take you a bit of time at first, but it’s worth having a go if you have a number of projects you want to do. Otherwise it is the same principle if you are drawing by hand.

Start by building up the shape of the room using rectangular blocks.

1 drawing a square



2 adjusting scaleStop! Don’t run screaming for the hills… this is easier than you think.
Simply take the measurement you already have in cm and divide by the scale you are using.

So for a measurement 3.5 metres long you have 350cm ÷ 20 =17.5cm  if you are drawing in 1:20 scale.

Keep adding to the shape of the room in simple boxes.

3 draw with pen



Then just add the measurements and any notes and you have your basic plan all ready. I keep one page with all the measurements on and then duplicate it on to extra pages for playing with alternatives. You can add slim shapes for doors, shapes for furniture to scale and just move and rotate as you like. You can even play around with adding colour to sections of the room, see what size rug you might need… the possibilities are endless but now you are in control and the fun can begin!

sitting room screen shot

There are software programs for this but I haven’t found any that are free and easy to use – please let me know in the comments below if you know of any!
scale rulerTIP: If you have lots of projects underway it is worth buying one of these rulers to make it easier on yourself. This ruler has markings for each scale and means you don’t have to do any calculations – you just pick the scale that’s most appropriate and use it like a normal ruler.



You can also use this system for vertical elevations where you are looking up at a wall which can be useful for:

  • planning how to hang artwork
  • drawing up storage units or wall shelves
  • working out space in a kitchen

I hope this is helpful and has given you some pointers to get started. Once you have the floor plan it will make it so much easier to make other decisions. If you’re still not convinced you should bother here are 5 reasons why you should.

If this is still too scary I have drawn up some FREE scaled drawing sheets you can use to make it even easier.

Just sign up here and add “scale drawing sheets please” in the comment box and I will email them to you. Happy measuring…..


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