Traffic Patterns and Clearance

Just as there are clearance requirements for objects and certain activities there are also recommended space allowances for traffic patterns in the home.  Main or major walkways such as front entrances, foyers, mudrooms and living rooms should have at least 4 - 6 feet of clearance.  This is enough room to allow multiple family members to pass by without running into each other. Minor pathways such as bedroom entrances, hallways and stairwells require 18″ - 48″ of space. Enough room for one or two people to pass. Some pathways are set in stone because of architectural elements, walls and built in fixtures but you can use the placement of furniture to redirect or alter pathways.

Furniture Placement and Layout

It is best if pathways do not cross specific activity areas ( you can learn more about space planning for specific activities by clicking HERE ). Use furniture and fixtures to move the flow of traffic.

Below, the freestanding shelving units line the floor to direct traffic down the hallway. This creates a physical barrier that divides the living area, piano room and walkway without obstructing your view. 

Next,  we have a conversation area. There is only one entrance to this seating arrangement which means the only time someone would walk into the group is if they plan on joining the conversation. This is a great technique if you want to achieve an intimate and interruption free space.

This is a great example of separating a pathway from a living space.  There is enough room on both sides of the sofa to enter this area and have a seat but it forces you to walk behind it to reach the patio. This placement also separates an open concept room into two spaces.

If you feel that the pathway is not defined well enough you can always add other elements to create a visual pathway. In the three season room below a hallway rug has been added to direct traffic around to the other side of the fire place. You could use other visual elements such as lighting or artwork.

Word of the Day: Vernacular

Reference to the distinguishing attributes of a certain culture. 

Happy Planning! 

AuthorCamille Pacori