How I space plan (and a basement sofa!)

November 29, 2012

Before, when we used the basement unfinished (which we did all the time), we had a couple chairs and an old loveseat down there. The chairs were comfy but the loveseat was not, and it was small. I hated that we could never sit together.

When we finished the space my main goal was to make the family room area as big as possible. Our upstairs family room doesn’t allow for much seating so I wanted the basement to have plenty of space to sit and lounge, but still have tons of floor space for the kiddo to play too.

So you know how you think you want one thing, it goes all wrong, and then you realize after the fact that it was for the best? Well that’s the moral of this furniture-for-the-basement story.

It was a long process – it started back in July when a friend was shopping for a new sectional. She was looking for inexpensive but big, and this one from Value City fit the bill:

solace sectional value city

I went with her to check it out and really liked it.  (This one is called the Solace by the way.) I wanted a more contemporary look for the basement, and this was perfect. And this thing is a BEAST. I mean, huge. JUST what I wanted!

I measured our stairs, the landing on the stairs, the ceiling height, everything (I thought…), and figured out that we’d be able to get it down there…which was kind of important. ;)

And then, because it’s was so big, I wanted to make sure it would work in the actual room. So I grabbed my trusty FrogTape and started measuring and taping, right on the floor:

furniture layout with painter's tape

I actually did this once on the cement floor too, before the carpet was installed. I was a teensy bit anxious to get a place to sit. :)

I measured it to the exact dimensions of the sectional to see how it would work. From this direction it was tight but if we moved the elliptical it would be fine.

The shorter side worked too, we’d just have a smaller walk way over there:

space planning with painters tape

Most of that stuff over by the wall was being moved anyway, so I figured it would be tight, but fine.

We lived with the outline on the floor for weeks and then decided it would work and purchased the sectional. Delivery day finally came and I was GIDDY. After six months of finishing the basement we were finally going to be able to really use it!!

But alas, I was wrong. :) They didn’t even bother taking the sectional off the truck. At first it was that they didn’t think it would make it down past our landing to the basement. Then they measured the door to the basement and realized the back was too tall to fit through.


So I stood in the driveway and waved goodbye to my long awaited sectional.

The hunt was on again and I found another one pretty quick at a local furniture store (Kittles Rooms Express). This time I measured every possible angle to make sure it would work, for real this time. It did, and it was in stock! Score! I took those measurements home and just to make sure, laid out my FrogTape again:

space planning with painters tape

This one had a different configuration that I was hesitant about at first, but now I’m SO glad we went with it.

We lived with the new outline on the floor for a few weeks because we had to wait for the money from the first sectional to go back into our our bank account. And that took awhile because they messed up the transaction. 

I finally went to order the smaller one and wouldn’t you know, it was out of stock. Gah. I know, I know…first world problems. There was a bonus though -- because it wasn’t in stock we got it at a big discount. It ended up costing less than some of sectionals I saw on Craigslist!

I breathed a big sigh of relief when they got it all the way down the stairs on delivery day. :) We ended up moving things around a bit and were able to move the sectional back even further in the room than we originally planned:

basement family room

You can see the Goodwill moon chairs in the background. Yes, I still spin in them. :)

Like I said, I’m SO much happier with this layout – it makes the space so much more open. The first sectional would have broken up the room big time and we would have had to take a (long) walk around it every time to sit down.

We wanted to go cheap but comfortable and cleanable for furniture down here – I wasn’t going to spend near what we did upstairs in the family room because I plan on this one getting beat up. We eat down there and I fully expect the kids to wear it out. It is microfiber, so it cleans up easily, and I must say, it is SUPER comfy:

microfiber sectional basement

Of course I checked out the comfiness on the tush factor beforehand but I was pleasantly surprised when we got it in the house.

The only thing I wish it had was detachable bottom cushions. I know some like having them attached but I like the option of flipping if something gets stained or messed up. The back cushions are not attached though, which is even more important to me cause I hate a wimpy cushion. This way I can flip them every month or so to keep their shape:

microfiber sectional basement

I found a couple pillows at TJ Maxx that I LOVE, and I’ll be making a few more to cover the ones that came with it. I’ll show you those as soon as I find the perfect fabric.

This was the first step in making this space comfy and usable for us and we love it. We are down there all. the. time. Finishing the basement is hands down the best thing we’ve done in this house. It only took us eight years to do it too. :)

There’s so many things to do still, first up is the bathroom, and next I want to focus on the bar area you can see behind the sofa:

microfiber sectional in basement

We’ll have a sink and small fridge hopefully, and maybe a small microwave? How FUN! My goal is that we never have to leave this level if we don’t want. Except for you know, sunlight. :)

I have a HUGE project in mind for the TV wall. Huge usually means it will take me eons. I hope to hurry it along this time.

We found an awesome ottoman for a great price too, but we had a little mishap with that (read = red wine) and it’s going to need a redo. More on that soon too, at least I hope! And have I mentioned how much I LOVE all the wall space down here? So many options for art and photos, I’m so excited about that.

So that’s the story of how I space planned in the basement, bought two sectionals and finally got a place to sit after eight weeks. I’m so glad the first one didn’t fit down the stairs – now I realize it was all wrong for the room. So do you put painters tape on your floor? Have you ever bought a piece of furniture and had it not fit in the house or the space?

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  1. I always use tape because everything has to be shipped up on a barge and you don't want to pay to ship it back!! I did buy a HUGE glass display case at an estate sale and it was touch an go getting it in the house. Now it lives in one spot, but it is fun to decorate like a mantle, huge mantle. I love your basement you have done a wonderful job, I always enjoy your blog. Thank you for taking the time to post and give us all ideas on our homes.

  2. This is so funny, we are actually in the middle of a very similar situation. I space plan just like that, with tape or brown paper taped to the floor in the shape of the furniture.

    I did the same thing for the sofa in our media room, looked at it for a while and finally decided to order it. Well, when they came to deliver it, no matter what they tried, they couldn't get one of the pieces in the room. So, we had to order a new piece and now we're waiting for it to arrive.

    They need to stop making sectionals so difficult to move! I'm glad it worked out for you in the end!

  3. I like the colour of your new sofa better too.

    We never had the issue with a piece of furniture, but we did with our fridge. We live in one of those 3-storey townhomes where the kitchen is on the second level and the fridge would just not fit up the stairs. But I'm glad it didn't because we went back to the store and bought one of those counter-depth fridges that fit much better and don't look awkward sticking out.

  4. We live in a house built in 1970. The doors are not standard sized by any means, grrr!
    We bought a sectional from Kittles(we live in Carmel) and had it delivered. I, too measured everything and technically it should have fit. They tried getting it in our house, broke a window and a light fixture. The delivery men were not happy! We never got it into the house. Kittles was great and fixed both things and took the sectional back. It was so dissappointing!
    We ended up finding one at Godby's and it works great in the area!

  5. I brought home a leather couch and loveseat set from craiglist about two years ago, and they made the living room look reallyyyy small. At the time, our TV was one of those massive big screen projection beasts, so we went out and bought a flat screen LED TV which freed up a ton of space and the problem was solved. It was the only remodeling decision that my husband has ever eagerly supported ;)

  6. I use graph paper. I know, I'm a dork. I measure the room and draw it out so each graph paper square is a foot, then measure the furniture on another piece of graph paper and cut them out. Then I move the "furniture" around the "room" till I find something I like. :)

  7. That is seriously almost the exact same as my couch. Cool!
    You can easily see it in this post:

    I got ours from Costco for $799. We've had it 2+ years and still love it.

  8. After a redo of our living room this summer, my husband and I decided to purchase new living room furniture. We measured, and then found a set in town that we liked. It seemed like a good fit. Come delivery day, my husband is working, and the movers get the love seat and chair and a half in the living room. However the big couch... well.. they gave up. They just could not manuever it into the room. We have some real awkward angels in our old home. Needless to say, I knew my husband would not give up. I had the movers leave the couch on the porch. When my husband came home, he and a friend worked their magic... pivot, twist, push, etc. Whew! They got it in with nothing more than a minor scrape on the ceiling. So thankful for a determined husband! Now my only issue is that the couch cushions on the back do NOT detach. They unzip so I can pull out the padding and rotate, but they're contoured in different places so I can only rotate them a few limited ways.

  9. I use a room planner online tool. It acutally works out pretty well! My favorite is being able to know exactly what size rug fits each situation. It is called Icovia if you want to try it. Basement is looking great!

  10. We had a huge open floor plan great room in our last house.....searched and searched for the perfect couch for it. Found it, got it ordered, delivered and paid for. 3 weeks later, the Navy sent my husband his new we live in the UK. And 1/3 of our sectional (the large sofa part) is in the garage in a huge box.....because it's too big to fit through any of the door frames that this house has (other than the garage door!). We couldn't fit it in the living room here anyways, as it's tiny (12x16) but it would fit in a cove off the dining room, if we could get it through a door......
    I totally wish we had gotten something else, but we had no idea we were moving overseas.....he is close to retirement and they usually save these jobs for newer folks! Glad for the opportunities tho......praying daily that my couch survives 3yrs in a box!

  11. Really good idea! I always just buy and hope for the best, a bit daft really! I love the colour of it, it's really warm and traditional.

  12. What an awesome idea!! That is even a good idea for any room, basement or not.


  13. I love the new sectional, and I'm glad you went with the second one because it definitely looks like you have more space that way. The color is great and it looks nice and soft. I really can't wait to see what you have in store for this basement!

  14. What a great realistic story. It is so hard to figure out those measurements! But I think it definitely worked out for the best. I think it looks great! Can't wait to see the bar!

  15. In my previous life, I think I was an architect... I use graph paper as well and make furniture templates. Then I save them in envelopes so that I can rearrange room without having to cut out small little beds/dressers/couches.

  16. I ordered a new couch that was pretty much the same size as the old one so I knew it would fit the room. What it didn't fit was though the doorway! On a rainy day the delivery guys patiently stood outside, luckily a covered porch, with the couch while hubby and I removed the front door from the hinges and disconected the screen door. They were finally able to get it in. And this one was a custom order so there was no way to return it so it had to get in!!!

  17. Can I say my favorite part of this post is the Rudolph on the couch? :)

  18. You certainly have made your basement area into a very nice living area.
    Love the seating ,looks so comfortable
    Thanks for sharing

  19. If there was a 'like' button I would hit it for Bri's comment.

    I really liked the post, but the Rudolph was my favorite part. I mean who wouldn't want a cuddly size Rudolph?


  20. Looks good. Been trying to 'finish' our basement for 10 years. You have me beat. I had one sectional and I have decided never again. Usually too big. Hard to ever move it to another room, etc. Enjoy yours. It looks great.

  21. I hope to order a new sofa soon, and will have to try the tape method! It's nice to be able visually see where the sofa will go.

  22. That couch looks so comfy! Glad it worked out, finally. I ordered my dream desk from ZGallerie and when they delivered it after 2 months on back order, it was completley damaged. Argh! Honestly, it sucked all the light out of the room anyway because it was so dark. I bought a PB desk for super cheap on a community board for my town in the end. Not only did I save money, but it looks better!

  23. Oh boy. First of all, I love your new sectional! It looks super cozy.
    And then I have a confession. My husband and I bought ourselves new furniture last year for Christmas. We bought it at an outlet that did not offer delivery. We did not measure it, I just eyeballed it and was sure it would fit. Turns out that a couch that looks a perfectly normal size in the display room may be giant when you get it home. It wouldn't fit through one of our doors, we had to take it out and go through our other door. We also had to take the legs off. Once we got it in, we love it. But the getting the couch inside almost killed us. Delivery all the way next time. Ug.

  24. A word of caution. I am a registered interior designer doing commercial interiors. Many years ago while working on the county courthouse remodel we had a problem with the new carpet that entiled flying carpet reps in from out of town. After review, it was noted that the tape that was placed on the carpet to secure constrution walk-off soil, left tape residue sticky on the carpet. Dirt then collected on the residue as persons walked on the carpet. Be careful with laying tape on carpet. We learned an expensive lesson here. Using graph paper is not dorky. Designers still work that way.

  25. ValenzMom (aka Helen)November 30, 2012 at 11:13 AM

    We own a huge chocolate leather sofa that I love. In fact, I love this sofa so much that we actually did NOT move into a house I wanted a few yrs ago. My beloved sofa would not have fit through the front door because of a wall that was in the way, it would not have fit through the garage entry door into the kitchen because the fridge and the cabinets didn't leave enough space, and it didn't fit through the slider because it didn't open wide enough. So I gave up a HOUSE because of my sofa, not the other way around :)

  26. Bri and Kasey, I love that Rudolph too. :) He's from Build a Bear -- we've tried for years now to get one and finally got one before the rush this year!!

  27. Anon -- good to know! Since ours was down on the carpet for weeks at a time both times, I checked it and it never left an sticky residue. I don't know if it depends on the brand, but ours was OK.

  28. What color did you use in the basement? It looks like a nice pretty gray. We r planning to paint our basement and this is a lovely color!

  29. BZ thank you! It is called Marina Gray but I lightened it a bit. There's more info here:
    I really do love it.

  30. My house has an upstairs on one end, one HUGE room. When I bought the house, my then-teenage daughter claimed that space for her bedroom. We purchased a queen size bedroom set for her, since there is so much room. Only problem is the stairs go up a few steps, then turn. NO WAY was that boxspring going up the stairs. We even called a friend to help, and he confirmed that it was not gonna happen. SOOOOO, I took down the small wall at the bottom of the stairs, moved the boxsping up, and rebuilt the wall. TA DA!! Of course that puppy is never coming out of that room!!

  31. This post is kind of ironic, because your sectional in your living room inspired me to get one for ours. We got the Solace because it was such a great price, but you're right it is a BEAST!!

  32. I totally used Frogtape to see if the sectional we wanted to buy would fit (it looked HUGE in the store, and I was convinced it wouldn't fit). But, it did! It's a great technique for space planning! This is our first sectional too - surprised by how much I love it!

  33. Your craft room look really inspiring and relaxing-- yeah that's the way it should be but the space, wow--

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