Our Secret Layout Tools

Laying out a room can be tough. There’s so much to consider, and the last thing you want to do is commit to a piece of furniture, plumbing rough-in, etc. that doesn’t work when you get in the space. There’s also the challenge of deciding on the layout of a space you don’t have ready access to. For us, this was the case with our home and previous apartment. We’d seen the spaces and had pictures and dimensions, but we had to wait over a month to close and get the keys. Once we did get the keys, we went through several months of renovations, which meant we had to wait even longer to bring in furniture. Fortunately, technology makes designing rooms virtually relatively simple, but Adam and I are both extremely visual and need to think through layouts in person. This leads us to our super high-tech, secret layout weapons…


A roll of paper and a roll of tape. I know, fancy, but we use these for EVERYTHING.


It started with art. We bought our first roll of brown paper when we decided to hang our first gallery wall (not the one pictured). We’d read a tip on tracing and cutting out your art to play with layout and avoid adding tons of holes to the wall. Smart. We purchased our tape and paper and the rest is history. So many uses! We still use paper when deciding what size art a space needs.

One of our favorite uses for painters tape is taping out furniture and rug placement. It lets you physically walk around the furniture and see how things feel. Does it feel cramped? Empty? Just right? As you can see, we’re pretty detailed with our tape layouts, but it is so worth it! For example, the bedroom tape layout above helped us realize that we’d need to move the rug, nightstands, and bed slightly off center to allow for the bathroom door to open and close with ease. First, we measure out the dimensions of our furniture and rugs, which is often provided online, and then, we tape out and adjust from there. Come move in day, we know exactly where everything will go, and each piece is placed in its box.

Our trusty roll of paper was a lifesaver in planning the layout of our bathroom. When we bought the house, the bathroom didn’t have a bathtub and only had a stand-up shower. We knew we wanted a clawfoot tub, but we also knew it would be really tight to get everything spaced out enough to meet code. We cut out paper to the size of our planned sink, toilet, and tub. For the toilet, we factored in the amount of space that was needed for clearance and cut the paper out to factor in the total amount of space needed, drawing a line for the area the toilet would actually take up. Using the paper allowed us to play with multiple layouts and ended up cementing that we wouldn’t have room to comfortably fit a vanity and needed to stick with a wall sink. We may or may not have also curled up on the tub to get a feel for the size.

Most recently we put our roll of paper to use to design the banquette (post coming on that next week). Adam had done several sketches, but we still didn’t feel ready to send the final dimensions to my dad. To confirm what felt like a proportional number of panels, trim width, bottom spacing, etc., we cut the paper to scale and drew the trim size we thought we wanted. Drawing this out actually helped us think through and even tweak a few things, and I’m really thankful we took the time to do this. It made explaining how we envisioned the piece a lot easier because we had drawings and photos to scale.


So there you have it. Two of our favorite design tools that also happen to be very inexpensive. What’s your go to method for laying out a room?

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