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How to draw a scale plan for your own home renovation.

In my book, Planning Your Perfect Home Renovation , I encourage all renovators to play around with the plans for the renovation using graph paper. It's amazing how much easier it is for a non-expert to grasp the full picture of their renovation goals once they see it in scale and play around with ideas. So here's the easy way to draw up your own renovation plans.

Step one: Buy a graph pad where each square can equal 10cm, or you can create your own grid of equal squaes on a blank sheet of paper.

Step two: Measure the length of one wall with your tape measure, and draw a line on the graph paper to represent this length by counting each square. For example, the wall is four metres, so it is four squares on the graph paper or four lots of 10 squares - whichever scale works best for you!

Step three: Measure every wall in the room, then the length of each door and window openings (without frames) and then add it to your drawing.

Step four:  Draw windows as double lines and doors with a line and an arc indicating which way the door opens.

Step five: Measure the length and widths of all built in fixtures such as counters and add to the plan. You can also include details of power points (usually with an x) or light switches if you want extra detail in the plan.

How to customize your renovation plans for kitchens

The kitchen is often the most complex room to renovate, particularly as modular cabinetry comes in so many variable heights, widths and depths. But you don't need complex computer software or detailed design knowledge to plan, play and dream about your new kitchen - you just need graph paper!

Step one: Create a base scale plan of the kitchen, showing doorways, windows, powerpoints and plumbing (as outlined above).

Step two: Draw kitchen cabinetry on another sheet of graph paper, with each square representing the same scale as the main graph. So if it's a base cabinet that is 600mm wide by 600mm deep by 600mm high, you will only be able to replicate the depth and width on a piece of paper. Accept these limitations for this purpose - it's still worth doing.

Step three: Cut out the individual pieces of floor cabinetry with scissors. Move the cut outs around on the piece of paper to get an idea of how your base - or floor - cabinets will work. The floorplan for base cabinetry in a kitchen is the most important thing to get right. Is a u-shape, l-shape or galley layout more effective for your space? Try them all and see what works best. Make sure ovens and dishwasher doors have space to open without becoming intrusive to internal pathways.

Step four: The overhead cabinets take a bit more planning to create with graph paper plans. You can still cut out the overhead cabinets and colour them in them in to demarcate the floor and overhead and tall cabinets.

Step five: Play around with cabinet shapes and sizes - create islands, galley layouts, l-shape or u-shape layouts to see which works best in your room.

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© 2007 Alex May