Distinguishing between universal and adaptable design may seem difficult at first, but when one realizes that these principles have less to do about the installation of specific items and are more about a designers perspective, it all begins to make better sense. And the designers perspective is heavily influenced by a thorough client assessment.
Yes, you could do it yourself, and you would likely do a good job in your own eyes, but are you sure that your taste would impress your visitors - or your neighbors? Of course, not everyone bothers what the neighbors and in-laws think, but surely it is best to have a look at what professional designers can come up with before going your own way? You are under no obligation to take their free advice - and it is a free service that many furniture stores offer.
There are a couple of tools that a designer can use to evaluate the needs of their clients. One of those tools is the Comprehensive Assessment and Solution Process for Aging Residents (CASPAR). CASPAR was designed for healthcare professionals to evaluate their clients ability to carry out routine activities in the home. This is also useful in determining the requirements of people who have disabilities.
For example, the needs of a child and his / her ability to live comfortably in the home are rarely addressed at the design stage. Its necessary to evaluate the childs current abilities and design an environment that works and grows with the child. Some easy adaptive design elements would include adjustable shelves and rods in the closet. As the child grows, the shelves and rods can be moved to better accommodate their reach. Appliances present a similar situation as it is necessary for the controls to be accessible. Front mounted controls on washing machines and dryers enable their use. Safety also comes into play. A child trying to use a microwave placed overhead is a recipe for disaster! Of course, the above example is very simple, but it illustrates the point that design needs to be done from the perspective of the individual and his / her ability to carry out daily routines in the home. This is why a good designer will perform an assessment of the client and specify the needed design modifications.
Measure up your room and enter the measurements into the floor planner, also known as a room planner. You then get a scale plan of the floor, into which you can fit your choice of furniture. Most furniture websites that offer this form of room planning also provide scale thumbnails of each piece of furniture. So if you choose a sofa, for example, you can place it where you want it to go, and then add coffee tables and other pieces of furniture to check how they fit in.