Improve Traffic Flow to Create a Calm Living Space
Destress Your Home Life
by Nita Hull
You’ve seen it on carpet. You’ve seen it on grass –a flattened path revealing the shortest walking distance between any two points! Similarly, inside our house we naturally choose the shortest distance as we flow through and between rooms. Intelligently placed circulation paths are a major determining factor in how comfortably your new home will function.
Interior designer, David Ferguson, writer of the syndicated newspaper column, Creative Space, states, “In my experience, traffic flow is possibly the Number One hindrance to a good furniture arrangement.” Since poorly placed traffic paths generate irritation and can even create safety hazards, identifying, analyzing and improving circulation routes in your proposed floor plan during the planning process will ensure your creation of a calming, stress-reducing new home design!
STEP ONE: Identify Traffic Paths
Draw in all the natural circulation routes. An easy way to do this is to place a dot in the center of each door, doorway, room entrance, hallway and stairwell and then connect each dot to all its ADJACENT dots. The network of lines created represents exactly where you will naturally walk as you move from room to room in your new home.
Within a room, such as a bathroom, continue to draw the path from the entry door to each fixture; in a bedroom extend the path to the closet(s).
To mark a traffic path to a sliding patio door, you need to decide which side the door will slide open from –left-hand or right-hand opening. A triple slider may open from either end or the ends could be stationary and the center panel moves. A 4-panel slider may have both middle panels slide open from the center towards each side.
Mark in the Kitchen Work Triangle. The kitchen work triangle is a traffic path between the sink, range and refrigerator. Designers have long recommended using it to study the interaction between convenient food preparation, cooking and clean-up with the location of appliances and counter space.
To mark the triangle on your plan, draw a dot at the center of sink,
cook top / range and refrigerator and then connect the three dots.
(like an island or peninsula cabinet) prevents you from forming an
actual triangle, move your lines around the obstacle, just as if
you were walking
in the real kitchen.
Indicate door swings. Most floor plans show the swing path
of room doors open at 90 degrees. If yours doesn’t, or only shows them open
45 degrees add the full swing so you can see clearly the actual
space they take
STEP TWO: Analyze Traffic Paths
Analysis requires observing how the traffic paths intersect with
open doors and their impact on furniture arranging.
PLAN #1 greets residents with traffic troubles immediately upon entering
from the garage. Conflicting door swings interrupt flow. What if another
person is coming through the basement stair door or changing laundry
loads as you are entering?
A long trek is required to the front door closet to hang up coats.
Conflict between this major traffic path and the cook opening the hot
oven door (safety issue) or using the refrigerator is inevitable
and a recipe for intense frustration.
The direction the patio doors in the Dining Room and the Owner’s
Suite slide open creates longer traffic paths and interferes with furniture
placement more than if the opening direction were reversed.
This NOT-SO-Great Room functions as a giant hallway. Any furniture grouping
will feel like an obstruction and it will be a challenge to fully relax
in this thoroughfare room.
In the Owner’s Suite, the person accessing the smaller closet will
block passage to the En Suite Bath. (Sliding closet doors would make more
sense in this arrangement.) The En Suite Bathroom door conflicts with
the shower door and crowds the person using the first sink.
STEP THREE: Improve Traffic Paths
Improve traffic flow by choosing the number and location of doors,
openings, hallways and staircases wisely.
PLAN #2 embodies all the principles of excellent traffic flow which
• Use short & direct routes
• Hug the edge or side of rooms
• Create pools of uninterrupted space for comfortable furniture arranging
Don’t allow open doors to hinder passage
Don’t place a door behind a door (The ubiquitous coat closet positioned
immediately behind an entry door is a typical bad
• No MAJOR traffic path is allowed to break the kitchen work triangle
Invest time and energy during the planning stage on anticipating
your needs and ensuring the layout accommodates them. You
will love living with the results every day in your new home!