Picture This! By: Carrie Oesmann


Each of us perceives the world around us differently. Though my husband and I are both visual learners and thinkers, John tends to look at a big picture and how things mechanically work, while I am detail-oriented on how things come together spatially and visually. I am much better at remembering what color a piece of furniture was or someone’s eye color, versus someone’s name. It may not help me much when introducing a new acquaintance but it’s great when I am designing a space!

I often joke with clients that I wish I had a TV screen in the back of my head, so that people could see what I see when I look at a their interiors. People are often nervous about having me come to their homes for an initial consultation. Just like when you clean before the cleaning lady comes, people think they have to fix things before I do a consultation at their home. But quite the opposite is true, I’d rather see what is not working for you, and what needs to be changed. I always say I really only see the potential in a space!

As I mentioned in a previous article, I’m convinced the main thing that led to the success of our total home renovation were the floor plans I created – even before the second visit to the property! Sure, I didn’t have the exact dimensions of each room, but the visual tour I had in my head came pretty close to the actual room layout and dimensions.

Creating floor plans are certainly not the most exciting part of a renovation or redesign. But like doing your homework, they prepare you for the work ahead in myriad ways! And yes, just like homework, everyone hates to do them. But, I never recommend any furniture additions or layout changes to a space without first measuring and creating a reference floor plan.

These plans are your first line of defense against mistakes. It’s important to note on these plans the location of electrical outlets, heating vents, and even the sun exposure in the room. Plans are a great reference tool for square footage on flooring, and even how many gallons of paint you’ll need (a good rule of thumb is approximately 1 gallon for every 400 square feet of wall space). It can even help when determine the amount of lighting you’ll need for a room.

When floor plans include a furniture layout, not only do I know what size furniture to recommend, but it also helps me design a comprehensive lighting plan. Where is task lighting needed for reading or homework? Would it be necessary to install floor outlets for table lamps that are not against a wall? I always recommend a furniture plan for new construction projects. Often people wonder if this is thinking too far ahead, but what if a family rooms needs more wall area for a larger flat screen TV? Or a bedroom requires more wall space for storage furniture? Now is the time to adjust window sizes and placements! Not only is the size and position of furniture important, but also take into consideration the clear space (36″ is a good rule of thumb for a path of travel).

Keep it simple! There are a thousand computer programs and apps for doing a room layout. I still suggest to anyone that isn’t a computer guru that simple quarter-inch graph paper is your best bet. It’s a simple way to scale things properly, as one block can equal 1 foot.

Floor plans focus on two dimensions of a room, so don’t forget the three-dimensional considerations of a space, too. For me this comes from experience, but if you are a newcomer to visualization of space try the simple trick of using blue painters tape to map out large items on the floor. See if you have room to maneuver easily. This works especially well for kitchen islands!

Another lifesaver (and marriage saver) is using floor plans and 3-D visualization tools for making sure things will fit up the stairs! My carpenter has actually mocked up furniture pieces and built-in sections to ensure they fit up a tight stairwell.

Don’t be fooled into thinking you are just adding one piece of furniture to a space. Even as a professional, I rely on floor plans to make sure I am on target with all my recommendations for clients. Having a scaled floor plan of any room helps keep renovations under control and give you the confidence to move forward and make educated decisions!


About Carrie,
Carrie Oesmann is the ASID, CAPS and AKBD certified Interior Designer of Bailiwick Interior Design, a business she has owned and operated in New Jersey since 1999. Last year she had the pleasure of expanding her business and relocating to the Lehigh Valley, so she now lives in downtown historic Bethlehem with her husband John. Her “Journey to Bethlehem” inspired her to start sharing her adventure on her blog, which you can find on her website, www.bailiwickinteriordesign.com. You can also follow her on Facebook. Carrie’s home also doubles as Bailiwick Interior Design’s Pennsylvania office and unique lifestyle showroom, a place where her clients can experience a variety of options in a real home—it’s unlike anything we have seen in the Valley! Call Carrie for a personal tour of the lifestyle showroom.