So where exactly do you start when designing a space?

designing a space

So where exactly do you start when designing a space?

I am currently working on a couple of design plans and I was recently asked, “Where do you start when designing a space?”  I thought that was a great question, so here’s my answer.

Designing a Space: Where to start?

Typically, when I start to work with clients, I get to see their space.  When I’m doing a walkthrough, I look for a couple of specific things to start off with:

  • Where are the electrical outlets, switches, etc. located?
  • Where is the plumbing located?  What is the state of the plumbing?
  • Where is the HVAC located?

Of course there are other things that I’m looking for (load bearing walls, windows, etc.), however the three items listed above are ones I truly need to know and potentially work around.  Below is an image of a new basement development that I am currently working on:

designing a space

For this basement that I call ‘naked’, meaning it is not developed, the electrical panel is right beside the rough in plumbing as well as a window.  Hmmmm…..working around that, including all the posts is going to be a challenge!  Not to mention all of the crazy corners and bump outs.

Designing a Space

First Steps

Once I see the space and know the locations of the ‘hard’ fixtures (windows, doors, plumbing, electrical, HVAC, etc.), I then have the opportunity to hear about the wishes for the space from my clients.  For this particular basement development, there are a couple of things on the wish list:

  • A bedroom.
  • A bathroom.
  • A media room.
  • A bar/wine area.

Start Planning

For this basement, I started with placing the bathroom.  As you may know, if you need to move the rough in plumbing, that will add to the labour costs so my preference is not to move it.  Once I had the bathroom in place, I moved onto the media room, bedroom, etc.  Here is a glimpse as to what was evolving:

designing a space

designing a space

What I didn’t like was the distance from the bedroom to the bathroom.  The bathroom was also right off the entertainment area.  I played around with moving interior walls, moving interior doors and really wasn’t happy with the way this was taking shape.  Onto round two!

designing a space

designing a space

This plan has the entertainment area in one area.  The bottom right is the kids play area.  The bathroom in this plan, is much closer to the bedroom and tucked away from the entertainment area (giving a bit of bathroom privacy).


It is at this stage where I start to get more input from my clients.  I have sent off the plan to ask for the following:

  • Are there things you like about this plan?
  • Are there things you don’t like about this plan?
  • What would you change?  This is a huge one as the only direction I’ve been given is that there is a need to have a wine room/bar area.  I’m going to need to know a lot more to complete this particular area.

Designing A Space: Moving Forward

I’m looking forward to the initial feedback.  I typically find that there are some minor tweaks and changes that can be easily made to give my clients the complete plan for their basement development.  This plan can then be used to obtain quotes to carry out the work and get this basement done!

Are you thinking of an upcoming renovation and are not sure where to start?  Contact me to discuss your next project.  


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