Can’t figure out how to arrange furniture in your space? Don’t know where to source stuff for your home? In our work, we’ve encountered all sorts of interior design problems—from the most typical (arranging furniture) to the more complex (moving an entire bathroom to a different part of the house). 

We’re listing down here the top three most common problems we’ve heard from our eDesign clients, and some solutions you can do—if ever you feel you can relate with any one of the items on this short list. 

pinterest cover how to arrange furniture and other interior design problems

#1: "We don't know how to arrange the furniture in our space."

Whenever we meet with potential eDesign clients, the issue they are almost always needing help with is how to create a furniture layout for their homes. 

There are several reasons why space planning is a difficult task for most people. It could be because their space is too small or too tight. Or on the other side of that, their space is too wide or too open.

Some of our clients say they have existing furniture pieces that they don’t know how to incorporate into the overall look and feel that they envision for their home. Or it could also be because the structure itself of their home is too unconventional, or too atypical (T-shaped condo units, anyone?). 

wide open empty room
How do you fill up a wide, empty space like this?

Our suggested solution: measure, draw, and mock it up

Get a tape measure (a minimum of 5 meters is best), or better yet, a laser measuring device (or why not both?). A small, handheld laser measuring tool can be found in Lazada or Shopee for a fraction of the usual price used by most construction and design professionals. (Make sure you get one that has a sufficient number of buyer reviews.)

The best way you can plan your home’s furniture arrangement is by measuring out each and every piece that you intend to place in the room, as well as the entire room. Measure out from corner to corner, wall edge to wall edge. Take note of door widths and heights, window locations, outlets, and switches. Sketch this out on your iPad or a piece of paper, so you always have a guide on what size of furniture is allowable for your space. 

Take it a step further by trying out a modeling program (like  SketchUp) or web app (like Floorplanner). You can easily sketch out the measurements you took down, as well as the exact measurements of each furniture piece you want to place in the room. This gives you a better view of what your furniture layout could look like from a two-dimensional level, even before purchasing the pieces you want to get. 

Seeing it this way enables you to visualize how your furniture layout could look.

Want to get a more accurate, three-dimensional view of what your layout could actually “feel” like in the space? Mock it up with masking tape, and big old cartons. We’ve done this in many of our Remodel projects, where we try to assimilate how big a sofa could feel like, or a bed, or a table in the space. In this way, our clients are able to better appreciate the measurements of the pieces we’re selecting for their spaces, and ultimately get a good sense of how to arrange furniture in their home. 

#2: "We don't even know where to begin buying stuff for our home!"

Picture this: You go to a mall or some home retail place intending to bring home some furniture pieces for the house. You spend hours perusing every chair and table, chandelier and lamp, drawer chest and wardrobe. But at the end of the day, you go home with zero purchases. 

The home shopping trip can be a very confusing and overwhelming activity for many homeowners. This is because we’re often unsure if the pieces we’re eyeing fits into the overall look you’re imagining for your space. Or you feel unfamiliar with the best brands or retail stores or custom furniture suppliers that could best provide what you need. Or maybe, you’re just afraid you might end up buying the wrong thing. (“I knew that couch was too big!”)

furniture pieces on display
Confronting furniture pieces at the store may seem daunting for some. Photo by Toto Labrador for Gal at Home.

Our suggested solutions: research, get recos, and make a mood board

Take your time to do some research. For a more stress-free approach, look through online catalogues or social media accounts of home brands and local suppliers. Ask in Facebook groups for their best of the best recommendations for home and furniture stores. You can even follow your favorite design professionals and influencers on social media— particularly those whose styles you like—and see which furniture brands or suppliers they use or promote. 

You can even message them for their best recos for the look you want (if you message Gal at Home on Facebook or Instagram, we’ll try our darndest best to give a reply!).

mobile phone showing Instagram page
Message your favorite home and design personality on Instagram to get their recos for furniture and home brands.

Make two very important lists when you are beginning to source for your home: 

  1. A shortlist of home brands, retailers, and local suppliers or artisans you love or are interested in, and
  2. A complete list of all the furniture pieces, decorative accessories, and home items you think you need for the space

These lists will be your best friends when shopping, as they will help curb the overwhelm that always seems to accompany every shopping trip. Make sure too that you list down a measurement guide for each big piece of furniture (for example, your tiny condo space can only fit a small, two-seater sofa bed that’s about 180 cm long). 

When you have narrowed down your choices for furniture and home accessories, see if you can create a mood board for each room using a tool like Canva or Pinterest. You can either pin photos of the furniture pieces you love from the store website, or upload these photos onto a board on Canva. This enables you to visualize if all the pieces you have been picking go well together from an aesthetic perspective. 

#3: "We're clueless about what to put on our walls."

Whether it’s paint color, other options for coverings, or just decor to put up, walls seem to be a major pain point for many of our eDesign clients. 

And for good reason. It’s such a wide expanse that everybody knows will heavily impact one’s mood, productivity, and overall sense of well-being (no, we’re not being dramatic. It’s true!). 

To be honest, choosing wall colors is something many decorators and design pros also struggle with. It’s definitely not an easy task, especially when there is an infinite number of hues to choose from. 

We’ve had one recent client who went from choosing to paint the living room wall a bold, accent color, to considering a whitewashed brick wall, before ending up with a textured grasscloth wallpaper. This indecision can truly paralyze anyone, because we know we will need to live with this decision for a long time. 

Choosing wall finishes isn't as easy as just simply saying we'll paint the walls white. Photo by Ayana de Ocampo for Gal at Home.

Our suggested solution: Collect samples, and swatch

Every time you are making an interior design or decorating decision, make the internet your best friend. Look up color combinations on Pinterest, save photos of real homes and their walls on Houzz. Then see if you can color-match these wall colors with your preferred paint brands

Most local paint brands like Boysen or Davies have paint books available for viewing at hardware depots like Wilcon Home Depot. In other smaller hardware retailers, like Ace Hardware or True Value, you can take home paint chips of the paint colors they sell. 

Now here’s where we recommend you shell out a little: Purchase the smallest can allowable of 2 to 3 of your most favorite paint colors for your room. In local hardware stores, the smallest bucket you can buy is a 1-liter bucket of pre-mixed paint. It’s not a cheap purchase, for sure, but this is the best way you can guarantee that the paint color you are choosing for your space is one you can live with for at least 3 to 5 years. Come to think of it, it’s a smaller price to pay than painting the entire room with a color you realize you are not in love with, and having to repaint it again. 

(When you end up with 1 to 2 buckets of paint you have absolutely no use for, donate them to a local group of muralists or artists’ collectives, who will be able to make use of those paint colors. You can even donate them to a nearby local community; someone will definitely have use for a couple buckets of paint.)

Roller brush and paint brush on orange wall
It's best to swatch out some paint options before committing to The One. Photo by Ivan Samkov for Pexels.

What to do with those buckets of paint you bought? Create large swatches or squares about 1 meter by 1 meter in size on the wall for EACH of your paint color choices. And make it two coats! Having a large swatch on the actual wall you want to paint is still the BEST possible way to pick a paint color. You can leave it on there for a day or two, visit the space at different times of the day, and also at night with the artificial lights turned on. This way, you get a better grasp of the color’s nuances at all times of day and night. 

What if you want to use other wall finishes, or just want to decorate your walls?

Again, make Pinterest or Google your friend. There is a ton of inspiration images out there on the worldwide web, and one or two of them are bound to catch your attention. Most wall finishes are already locally available, and you can find most them on Facebook or Instagram. 

It really does take time to research, collect samples, and roadtest these in your space, but when done well and meticulously, it will be all worth the effort. Check out a list of interior design resources and blogs here. 

Now if you’re thinking of how to decorate your walls, here are some great ideas in another blog post

pinterest cover how to arrange furniture and other interior design problems

Have other home dilemmas we forgot to include in this list?

We’ve heard so many interior design problems that you may think we’ve heard them all, but in truth, every client we work with has some unique concern that we try our best to find solutions for. 

Then again, we know there are lots of others out there who, no matter how much guidance we give, really cannot be bothered to make important design decisions for their homes. If you’re one of those, then maybe we can help you with your dilemmas!

Our eDesign service gives you the blueprint you need so that you know exactly how to arrange furniture in your space, what selections you should purchase that fit into your space and your preferred home style, as well as paint or finish guides for your vertical surfaces.