Using Your Mac to Plan Your New Home

Last month my wife and I signed a deal to purchaseAssembling a Chair a flat. If everything goes as planned, October this year we’ll be able to move in. From our last look, the place was in a pretty good condition and hopefully we only need to add in furniture and air conditioning. It’s a small place (about 70 square meters) hence space planning is essential. Here is how we did it and hopefully you can apply the technique to your own home.

We plan to get most of our new furniture from IKEA. Not only they provide great-looking furniture at good prices, but they also have an extensive online product catalog with detailed product information. We could easily access each product’s dimensions and assembly instructions which was essential in our planning.

These were the software that I used in the process:

We first obtain the floor plan of our new flat. This was a S$5 purchase from HDB Website – they still want their S$5 even for a download-only version. Luckily they provide a scalable PDF version that I could import directly to OmniGraffle.

Then I created a new OmniGraffle document with an A4 paper size and import the floor plan. I’ve centered it on the drawing page and change it’s color to gray. The floor plan was drawn in black-on-white and I needed to recolor to prevent clashing with the annotations to be placed over it.

Drawing ScaleHaving a floor plan in place, it’s now time to set the scale. OmniGraffle has this neat feature that you can enter sizes in real-world units and let it take care of scaling for you. That is, you can size a rectangle to be one meter long and the software will scale it down appropriately to your drawing scale. My drawing scale was 1:100 and set it up in the Canvas inspector. It’s also good to have a grid of some sort and I set mine at 20 * 20 cm with 5 steps between grids – so that’s 4 cm per minor gridline. By the way, I found it useful to align the walls in the floor plan to the drawing grid.

I placed the base floor plan into its own layer and lock the entire layer to prevent accidental modification. You should do this as well so that you don’t mess up that professionally-drawn floor plan. Also if you resize it, make sure that the widths and heights are proportionally sized.

In total I have five layers in the OmniGraffle drawing:

  • Floor plan — for placing the architectural drawing we obtain from the architect.
  • Base — for placing chairs, beds, and cupboards that need to be placed on the floor.
  • Tables — mainly for tables since you can place some items below it.
  • Hangings — primarily for air conditioner units or other wall-mount items.
  • Annotations — informative texts that we need to remind ourselves.

Then it’s time to start shopping. We went to IKEA’s website and take note of the items that we need. We go room by room and took notes of what we’re going to buy for each room. For each item we note down:

  • The product name.
  • IKEA’s product code
  • How much does it cost
  • How big is it ( width * depth * height)

Soulver for Mac is great for constructing this list. What’s nice is that it’s easy to get a total of how much they’ll be. Yes you can also do it through a spreadsheet but it’s going to be pretty cumbersome. You’ll need to explicitly set aside a column for each attribute and how many do you need of each item. Since most item you’ll only need one unit setting aside a dedicated “quantity” column would be rather redundant.

Then I’d switched back to OmniGraffle to lay out the furniture. I just draw boxes that represent each item — drawn to scale thanks for OmniGraffle’s drawing scale feature. For each item I’d simply enter their real dimensions in the toolbar and place them on the floor.

In the process I also custom-design a Galant table to fit the living room (which is really planned to be a large study room) and the trio of OmniGraffle, Soulver and the IKEA Catalog really shine in this. Soulver makes easy to comment out some line items as I try out in OmniGraffle how the various combinations of the table’s building block fits the room.  

Of course it would be better if IKEA releases an “official” OmniGraffle templates with the correct dimensions and part numbers. But until then, drawing rectangles should suffice.

Floor Plan

Then after having this preliminary floor plan and shopping list, we went out to IKEA’s showroom and look at the items ourselves. We synced our Soulver shopping list to my iPhone via Dropbox and used that to guide our sightseeing. (Pretty strange that the iPhone version of Soulver couldn’t access iCloud and use the document we made on the Mac, but let’s save that for another discussion). The trip was very useful and there were a few revisions made in the list. Most notably were the study chairs and bed mattress. We’ll be spending quite some time in these and we really need to get a feel of them before buying.

You’re curious how our shopping list looks like? Here it is, for your viewing pleasure. Simply copy these and paste it into Soulver for your starting point.

Swivel chair MARKUS 501.372.08 "62w 60d 133-143h" S$399
Swivel chair FINGAL 701.965.98 "59w 65d 108h" S$79
(optional, if we don't get the TV Cabinet) Billy book case with doors 198.885.79 "80w 28d 202h" white S$157
BEKVÄM Step Ladder, beech 701.904.12 "63h" S$59
VÄGGIS Noticeboard 201.640.81 "39w 59l 2h" 2 × S$9.9

Study Table:
Galant table top corner right "160x120cm" with frame, white 798.852.38 S$199
Galant extension top with frame "80x60cm", white 798.852.19 2 × S$60
Galant A-leg silver colour 101.864.65 8 × S$15
Galant desk top shelf, white 101.739.53 "70x30cm" S$59
(still need to see in real life) Drawer unit on castors white HELMER 902.510.46 "28w 43d 69h" 2 ×S$69
Signum cable trunk 102.002.54 3 × S$9.9
Signum cable outlet kit 401.714.86 (contains three cover caps) S$4.90

Dining Chairs Jeff 801.621.78 "42w 49d 78h"4 × S$11.90 (try to find the white one, hopefully)
Dining Table BJURSTA birch veneer 201.616.81 "90/129/168x90 cm" S$99
Shower curtain Skagern 602.164.84 "180x200 cm" S$19.90
Shower curtain rings RINGSJÖN "12pieces in one packet" 001.793.90 S$1.80
Curtain rod HUGAD 402.171.30 "120-210cm" S$ 6.90
Ceiling bracket BETYDLIG 702.198.92 white 2 ×S$2.90
Bracket points VÄSENTLIG white 702.171.95 2 × S$6.90

@Master Room
Matress HAFSLO "180x200cm" 702.444.72 S$299
Bed frame with storage BRIMNES "180x200cm" 799.029.40 "206l 186w 47h" S$489
Bed sheet (TBD)
Bolmen corner shelf 801.654.12 white S$ 6.90
Bedside table BRIMNES S$69 "39w 41d 53h" 902.349.43; maybe if Bolmen corner shelf not good enough
Wardrobe TRYSIL 202.312.31 "154w 60d 205h" S$345

@Common Room
The old sofa bed and pillows - Lyckselle "142cm 100cm 87cm"
Wardrobe TRYSIL 202.312.31 "154w 60d 205h" S$345
baby cot Sniglar $59 "123l 66w 80h" 201.967.70
Matress for cot VYSSA SLAPPNA "120l 60w 5t "001.952.48 S$19.90
LEN Matress Protector, 801.690.66 white S$9.90
VYSSA TULTA Matress pad white 301.663.86 S$18.90

TODO: UPPLEVA Cable cover strip 602.273.69 "79cm long" 0 × $5

TODO: BÄVE Ceiling Track "78l 2.8w, shade diameter: 3cm" 402.376.42 0 × S$69

We’re still tweaking this list and layout every now and then and probably we’ll revisit them when we finally get our keys. One big thing that’s missing is the placement of power plugs – we didn’t took note where the electrical outlets were was and whether we need to adjust the layouts to better fit them. Also missing are what furniture that we’ll going to “inherit” from the place’s previous owner – apart from the unmovable kitchen cabinets and stove.

We hope you find this tip useful. Please let us know what you think – what did we miss and how can we improve the plan?

Till next time.


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