How to correctly measure an indoor space

As online interior designers, we work with our clients to bring their visions and dreams for their home to life through our virtual interior design bespoke services that are centered and focused around YOU. Part of that journey includes getting our clients to measure an indoor space like room and built-in furniture, so we can provide an interior design plan that’s accurate to the space they’re living in! 

Study the case study we have made and how things went from awkward to awesome.

Taking accurate measurements in your home isn’t only for new furniture or interior design projects. If you’re selling or renting your home, your realtor will want dimensions. Or, if you’re going to put a room or a suite on Airbnb or VRBO, your guests will probably want to know how big the room or suite is. 

Measuring your space can be easy, as long as you have the right tools in place. Below read our 5 tips to measuring your indoor space correctly. 

Pro tip: Download the cheat sheet we give to our clients when they start measuring their space! 


General measurement tips

We don’t want you to make costly mistakes because you incorrectly “estimated” the space in your condo or house. Measure everything twice, or even three times if you’re unsure. If you can get the same measurement two to three times, then chances are it’s accurate. Further, if you do not know how to measure an indoor space, reading our recent blog post can quite help you.

Your measurements will be recorded in inches for best accuracy. When writing your measurements use the two-line marks to indicate the inches. If you’re preparing measurements for an interior designer or someone else, ask their preference for the measurement units in case it differs. 

Step 1: Gather your supplies

You don’t need much, but there are a few things you need before you get started measuring your space:

  • A pencil (yes a pencil…just in case you make a mistake)
  • A tape measure: Make sure it’s an easy-to-use one. 
  • Grid paper: Get a pad or piece of grid paper (or download a sample one from our “How to measure your room” PDF resource download. 
  • A friend: When measuring large spaces, one of you can take measurements and the other can write them down. Or, if using a traditional tape measure, have them hold one end for you.

BONUS TIP: Get a laser tape measure! They’re often the size of a cell phone and take measurements by bouncing a laser off surfaces and calculating the distance based on how long it takes the laser to bounce back. These are inexpensive and extremely accurate. It’ll save you the hassle of dealing with a flimsy metal tape measure (which often need two people to hold in place for longer measurements).

Step 2: Draw your room

First, draw the approximate shape of your room. If possible, make it as large on the paper as possible so you can easily fit in all the details so it’s easy to read. 

Then, do your room perimeter dimensions and write them on the exterior of your drawing. Be sure to add ceiling height if applicable too. This is usually written in the center of your drawing with the title “Ceiling Height” or “CH”.

Next add any exterior wall or room elements like doors, windows, built-in furniture, and fireplaces. Here are some tips for measuring these elements:

  • Doors: Use a quarter circle to show which direction a door opens.
  • Crowded walls: If you have crowded spaces, use an arrow pointing to the element to write down the measurement where there is more space on your paper
  • Trims: If your windows or doors have a trim, ignore it when doing your measurements

Next, add your measurements for all the above elements if they are applicable to your project. For example, an interior designer will want to know the width of the fireplace so they can suggest an appropriate-sized art for it, but your realtor won’t need this level of specificity to sell your home. 

If there are any elements that may affect the placement of new elements in your room, such as vents or a radiator preventing a couch or table from closely abutting the wall, make a note of these areas for your designer. 

Here is an example of what your drawing might look like when you’re done: 

measure an indoor space

Step 3: Measuring tips for furniture and appliances

If you have any pieces of furniture you want to keep in your new space, provide your designer with these dimensions too. Start by measuring the length, width, height, and diagonal width of your furniture. If it helps, draw a simplified 3D outline of the furniture item and write the dimensions on it. 

If you’re anticipating buying any new furniture, large pieces, or irregularly shaped items, measure a few other spots in your home to ensure it fits:

  • Send your designer the width, length, and height of any door frames or hallways between your exterior door or garage, and the room the furniture will go in. 
  • If there are any bannisters in this path, be sure to indicate how tall they are (often furniture that doesn’t fit down the hall can be lifted and carried over the bannister or railing). 
  • Check and make note of any fixtures that may impede the path of your new furniture too. 
  • If you are in a building with an elevator, don’t forget the elevator dimensions too. 

Step 4: Take photos

After you’ve done your measurements, your designer will want a scanned copy of this file along with photos of the space. A great way to do this is to stand in the centre of the space and pivot to take a picture of each wall. Try to take photos during the day so it’s easier to photograph. You can take photos from your phone as long as they are clear enough for the designer to get a good feel for your space. 

If you’ve got a bit more tech-savvy, consider using your phone to record a brief video walkthrough from the door to your space, then pan around to show the space. This is another great way for a designer to get a better sense of your space, and possibly spot a measurement requirement you forgot. In the end, if you need any help, you can book a brief design consultation with experts to give you a hand.

Download our cheatsheet to measure your rooms

Remember the proverb “measure twice, cut once” and you’ll be fine. For a little extra help, download our free Measure Your Room cheatsheet (which includes a sample grid you can use for your next room drawing.  

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