The School with Megan Morton - How To Navigate Your Space

Jenny Butler
Jenny Butler
22nd of March 2012

Megan Morton meets Kevin McCloud today on the Guest Blog! Well, they don't actually meet in real life today (hopefully one day, hey MM?!) but like Kevin McCloud, Megan is passionate about the flow and use of space in peoples' homes, and today she shares her techniques on mastering the flow throughout your home. - Jenny x

MUSIC TO ACCOMPANY TODAY'S POST: Quelqu'un M'a Dit by Carla Bruni. 'It's beautiful, reflective and full of contemplative moments. And careful contemplation is EXACTLY what I want you to do with today's information.' - Megan
Photograph by Jason Busch, styled by Megan Morton / Room Images.

I love Kevin McCloud. When Giles and I play celebrity husband, KMC is always in my top 3. First of all, he is rather tall. That is a big tick for me. But more than physically, he is the most intelligent person preaching design. I love him, especially when he was digesting the parodox that is Dharavi, the inspiring Indian slum and subject of his deeply impressive `Slumming It' series. (Track it down, if you haven't already. It was, among other things, one of the thought starters that led me to sell my large house and land and address my whole family's living footprint late last year). But more so, I love how KMC tells big dreaming folk they are bonkers and tasteless, but they manage to still be smiling and begging him to come up and see the view from the turret they have built upstairs.

Photograph by Jason Busch, styled by Megan Morton / Room Images.

Kevin is an eloquent genius whose knows the fundamentals to a house. He taught me that a home's 'navigation' is very important - which is really all about how your house flows. To get an understanding of this is to consider a 'Circulation Overview' -  a concourse for a house's life, if you like. (Listen up anyone building new or major renovating, this could be a nugget for you).

Get out a pad and a pen and draw the most travelled / favoured route in your house. Kevin does this with fat arrows and lines for principle routes, which demand wider spaces to allow for people to pass, carrying homework or shopping, or a dog in disgrace to pass. For less prevalent routes he uses narrow lines, and the result is 'a home that always works' says KMC.

I take a floor plan and a roll of baking / tracing paper (I always keep some in the car because you never know when this will hit), and make an overlay with fluoro denoting major routes (great for family homes with lots of users) and biro for the sneakier routes. If people work from home, or are mostly at home, they can get their own coloured line as it makes sense that this person should be consulted on how the flow of space works best for them. And anyone who has experienced furniture dodging (prevalent in older peoples homes), all of a sudden the whole Circulation Overview seems totally logical.

A Circulation Overview is a key factor then when it comes to choosing materials (do you really want a silk-mix carpet in that hallway/thoroughfare?) as well as furniture placement (I can't tell you how many people put a console in their hallway that seems to only ever store old birthday cards, and manages to suck out so much space visually you feel you should walk past the piece sideways).

Once a navigation course is noted, you can work on positioning things that will service how you use the house. Because every house is different and everyone's needs are varied, and you will be surprised at how you actually use your house. Waste of time for those who live alone - lucky ducks get to make a different pattern every other week if they feel so inclined. But for those of us who live with others, this simple tracing paper overlay is also a trigger to really think pragmatically about how you use your space.

This exercise is not to have you all neat and lining furniture up straight to walls, but more of a getting-to-know-your-space-exercise. Because to paraphrase designer Abigail Ahern, ‘Yes..  it’s important to have a basic knowledge, but really it’s such an old fashioned way of decorating and too formulaic. Follow your heart, try not to shove any sofas or chairs against a wall… formally trained interior designers will be passing out by now’.

One of the things I seem to do most with people's houses these days isn't adding furniture, but removing. I think that most rooms have one too many things in them, all butted up against the wall. See Friday's post for more on that, and consider losing one piece of furniture from the room and see how much more you get out of it!'

- Megan x

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