Redesigning a Small Office with Open Source Software

My wife and I recently had our first baby. The second bedroom of our small apartment which was being used as an office had to be converted to also serve as a nursery for the baby.

Before picture
Before: Computer desk, bookshelf and filing cabinet on wall to left, cot and change table to mid and right

Being such a small room, with such an odd shape it was hard to decide on the best layout for all the items. The room needed to fit a cot and change table, as well as the existing desk, filing cabinet and bookshelf. Initially we’d just put the new items in the room but putting them all in had stopped us from being able to open the wardrobe.

We definitely needed to make a change to the layout, but with such heavy furniture and a small room I didn’t want to have to move everything around without a good plan of where they should go.

The answer seemed obvious: draw a diagram to scale and plan the new layout before moving anything. I wanted to make sure everything would be easily accessible and that the wardrobe doors could be fully opened. I figured I’d use the free CAD program LibreCAD to do the design.

LibreCAD is an open source Computer Aided Design application for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. It provides a fairly comprehensive set of features for 2D CAD drawing. I’m not particularly skilled at CAD drawing so I had to bumble my way through figuring out how to use the basic features.

I started by measuring the walls and adding straight lines of the correct lengths and using the snap to endpoint feature to join them. I also added arcs to indicate the swing of the wardrobe and room doors. I then measured up and drew the furniture from the room and positioned them as they currently were.

Before: LibreCAD Drawing
Before: LibreCAD Drawing

After completing an accurate CAD drawing of the office it was a simple matter of moving the furniture around until I found a layout that met my requirements of making everything more accessible and allowing the doors to open properly.

After: LibreCAD Drawing
After: LibreCAD Drawing
After: The end result - much more usable space!
After: The end result – much more usable space!

I learned some useful techniques of CAD drawing which I’ll try to improve in the future. My next plan is to create a full layout drawing of our apartment which I can use in my internet of things applications.