Residential Interior Design
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Residential Interior Design

A Guide to Planning Spaces

Maureen Mitton, Courtney Nystuen

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eBook - ePub

Residential Interior Design

A Guide to Planning Spaces

Maureen Mitton, Courtney Nystuen

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About This Book

Discover a practical guide to residential space planning, in this room-by-room guide with up-to-date info on accessibility, ergonomics, and building systems

In the newly revised Fourth Edition of Residential Interior Design: A Guide to Planning Spaces, an accomplished team of design professionals delivers the gold standard in practical, human-centered residential interior design. Authors Maureen Mitton and Courtney Nystuen explore every critical component of interior architecture from the perspective of ergonomics and daily use.

The text functions as a guide for interior design students and early-career professionals seeking a handbook for the design of livable, functional, and beautiful spaces. It includes hundreds of drawings and photographs that illustrate key concepts in interior design, as well as room-by-room coverage of applicable building codes and sustainability standards. The authors also cover all-new applications of smart building technology and updated residential building codes and accessibility standards.

The book also includes:

  • A thorough introduction to the design of interior residential spaces, including discussions of accessibility, universal design, visibility, sustainability, ergonomics, and organizational flow
  • In-depth examinations of kitchens, bathrooms, and the fundamentals of residential building construction and structure
  • Comprehensive explorations of entrances and circulation spaces, including foyer and entry areas, vertical movement, and electrical and mechanical considerations
  • Practical discussions of bedrooms, leisure spaces, utility, and workspaces
  • An overview of human behavior and culture related to housing
  • Updates made to reflect changes in the 2021 International Residential Code (IRC)

The latest edition of Residential Interior Design: A Guide to Planning Spaces is ideal for instructors and students in interior design programs that include interior design, residential design, or residential interior architecture courses.

This edition provides updated content related to CIDA standards in human centered design, regulations and guidelines, global context, construction, environmental systems, and human wellbeing. It's also an indispensable resource for anyone preparing for the NCIDQ, the interior design qualification exam.

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This book is intended as a guide in space planning rooms and spaces in a home. Related information regarding codes, mechanical and electrical systems, and a variety of additional factors that impact each type of room or space is also provided. In addition, this book includes information about accessible design in each chapter in order to provide a cohesive view of residential accessibility. This new edition includes updated 2021 International Residential Code information and additional updates.
Intended as a reference for use in the design process, this book can aid in teaching and understanding the planning of residential spaces. Most chapters follow a similar format, starting with an overview of the particular room or space and related issues of accessibility, followed by information about room-specific furnishings and appliances. Chapters continue with information about sizes and clearances, organizational flow, related codes and constraints, and issues regarding electrical, mechanical, plumbing, and basic lighting.
This book is meant to aid students and designers in understanding the amount of space that is minimally necessary in order for rooms to function usefully. Examples of larger spaces are also given, but at its heart, this book is intended to show students how to use space wisely and make good use of space throughout the dwelling. With clear knowledge about minimums, designers and students of design can learn when it is appropriate to exceed such standards for a variety of reasons that reflect specific project criteria based on client needs, budget, site, and other issues.
This book is intended as an introduction to the topics covered with the aim of familiarizing the reader with the basic concepts so that they might move forward in design education or on to additional research in certain areas. To that end, an annotated references section is provided at the end of each chapter. Thinking of the information provided in each chapter as basic building blocks that allow for the discovery of the issues involved is a helpful approach in using this book. (Figure 1.1)
Schematic illustration of book covers the design of houses using a basic room-by-room approach.
Figure 1.1 This book covers the design of houses using a basic room-by-room approach.
There is much that goes into the design of a dwelling that is not covered in this book; our intent is to focus on the use and design of individual rooms (again, a building-block approach) so that the reader will have the core information required to understand the design of these individual spaces. This basic informational approach may bring up questions about the role of the interior designer versus the role of the architect. Clearly, the design of the totality of the structure is the role of an architect, however, interior designers are taking an increasingly larger role in the design of rooms and spaces.
Interior designers engaged in renovation work can take a lead role in the design of the interior architecture of a space, with a significant hand in the design of a room or many rooms. This is in contrast to notions of the interior designer as the person tasked only with materials and furnishings selections.
The authors believe that interior designers and design students must be well versed in the aspects of residential design covered in this book. Readers will note that the detailed kitchen and bathroom information contained in this book is applicable to remodeling as well as to new construction.


The evolution of the use of rooms, room sizes, and changes related to American homes is mentioned throughout the book. It's worth noting that the authors have a bias toward careful consideration of the quality of design rather than the quantity of space in a given home. We hope to make clear that the successful design of space requires consideration of the real needs of clients measured against budgetary, code, climate, and site restrictions–all of which require careful development of a project program prior to the beginning of the actual design of the project.
The last hundred years have brought substantial changes to the public perception of the design, furnishing, and size of the American home. The overall size of new single-family homes followed a long-term trend of house size increasing from 1950 to 2015, with a brief decrease during the great recession. According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), the average home built in 1950 was 983 square feet (91 m2), with an average size of new single-family homes completed in early 2015 of 2,736 square feet (245 m2).
The average (mean) square footage for new single-family homes has declined since 2015 and was down to 2,506 square feet in the first quarter of 2020. According to Robert Dietz, chief economist for NAHB, there is potential for the coronavirus and the recession of 2020 to reset those trends, “as evidence grows that households will seek more space for home offices, home gyms, and other purposes.” (Figure 1.2)
The authors argue that a larger house is not necessarily a better house, and that designing a house that works well on a functional level is more important than mere size in creating a useful and pleasant environment. Additionally, large single-family homes are currently out of the financial reach of many citizens. Given issues of affordability and environmental sustainability, the future may require that space optimization is a worthy goal in designing dwellings.
Consideration of housing size and use of related resources is not unique to this publication. Architect Sarah Susanka's book The Not So Big House (1998) focused on quality over quantity of space and had an impact on the design of many homes. A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander and colleagues (1977), an earlier book considered seminal by many, has at its core the notion that spaces should be designed for the way people really live and that good design can be accessible for all.
Schematic illustration of the average new single-family home in the United States grew in size from 1950 to 2015 with brief interludes of reduction due to economic turmoil.
Figure 1.2 The average new single-family home in the United States grew in size from 1950 to 2015 with brief interludes of reduction due to economic turmoil. Recent years have shown a decrease as noted here. Given housing costs, land availability, and environmental concerns, housing size may not continue to increase over time.
The notion of seeking quality of design rather than quantity of space is shared by many, and yet larger and larger houses continue to be built to house very small family groups. This dichotomy suggests that two opposing popular views of space exist. Although the architect Philip Johnson was once quoted as saying “architecture is the art of wasting space,” clearly that was a bit tongue-in-cheek, and we concur more with Walt Whitman's notion that “every cubic inch of space is a miracle” – or should be.
The remainder of this chapter covers some general issues that relate to housing and serves as an introduction to the concepts that are covered in future chapters.


Environmental designers–including interior designers–benefit from gaining an understanding of human behavior as it relates to privacy, territoriality, culture, and additional issues related to the built environment. Privacy can be defined as the ability to control our interactions with others.
Understanding the human need for privacy and related issues can be helpful in designing spaces for human use. According to Jon Lang (1987, 148), “The ability of the layout of the environment to afford privacy through territorial control is i...

Table of contents

Citation styles for Residential Interior Design
APA 6 Citation
Mitton, M., & Nystuen, C. (2021). Residential Interior Design (4th ed.). Wiley. Retrieved from (Original work published 2021)
Chicago Citation
Mitton, Maureen, and Courtney Nystuen. (2021) 2021. Residential Interior Design. 4th ed. Wiley.
Harvard Citation
Mitton, M. and Nystuen, C. (2021) Residential Interior Design. 4th edn. Wiley. Available at: (Accessed: 15 October 2022).
MLA 7 Citation
Mitton, Maureen, and Courtney Nystuen. Residential Interior Design. 4th ed. Wiley, 2021. Web. 15 Oct. 2022.