x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

House Doctor: Know how your space will be used

Create a list of requirements for your room to ensure it's functional after the redesign.

With a concept developed and an aesthetic direction determined, one of the most challenging aspects of designing a space is ensuring that the resulting project interprets the inhabitant's style. Good designers take cues from their clients' research and translate these ideas into a personal environment.

For my redesign, I plan on interpreting a combination of French, German and American modernism andart deco.

These styles are characterised by clean geometric forms, sleek elegance, a combination of natural and man-made materials, restrained scale, symmetry and an admiration for modern attributes of the machine. Machine-made materials such as polished stainless steel, chrome, painted steel and glass are paired with beautifully finished wood, sumptuous leather and fabrics, simple decorative accessories and a modest palette of grey, white, black and primary colours. Ornamentation is kept to a minimum, with the form and finish of objects and furniture in harmony with the function.

Of course, when planning any project, one must consider how the space will be used. In professional terms, we call this the "programme", which outlines the client's needs and the function of the environment. Documenting these requirements helps establish a framework for a "space plan" and a checklist to ensure all functions are accommodated in the final outcome. In my apartment, my goals are:

• a comfortable retreat to relax, work and entertain small groups of friends once or twice a month

• lounge-area seating for four to six people

• space for a 42-inch flatscreen television, audio-visual equipment, books and decorative objects in the lounge area

• dining area that seats six

• sleeping area with space for a 160cm x 200cm bed

• bedroom storage that is open (shelves) and closed (dresser/armoire)

• work area in the bedroom

• entryway with chair/stool, table and mirror

• extra storage in the kitchen

• opportunities to display art

The amount of detail in a programme depends on the scale of the project and the homeowner or designer's experience. By using this strategic method, anyone can be sure that they don't miss an important detail or necessity such as accommodating a book or CD collection. When flexibility is an important criterion, how space is used and the type of furniture to be considered is clearly defined.

Armed with this information, I am able to start considering the type of furniture I want and can begin to plan the layout. Now the excitement begins.

Robert Reid is a professor of architecture, art and design at the American University of Sharjah. His column, House Doctor, can be read every week in House & Home.