Gadget eases furniture-moving chore

Miniature plan: Magnets, white board

March 9, 2011 

Few tasks are more dreaded than the inevitable furniture rearranging that takes place after moving into a new home. Dragging your love seat from one corner of the living room to another (and then back to where you originally had it, of course) might help you find the best place to set up the TV, but it's the type of experience you'd forswear - after you catch your breath.

Interior designers and architects avoid such exhausting scenarios by sketching out their plans in advance. Magnetic furniture arrangers – such as the one created by the Board Space-Planning Systems and sold by Libby Langdon Solutions ($109, Libbylangdon.com) – help ordinary folks skip the heavy lifting, too.

A little like Colorforms for very mature children, Langdon’s Furniture Arranger set comes with a magnetic dry-erase white board, a pen, a ruler and more than 250 furniture-shaped magnets. The 8-inch-by-11-inch grid-lined workspace offers 1,344 square feet (each quarter-inch is equivalent to one foot) in which to arrange magnets representing various objects, from rectangular dining tables to sofas and sectionals.

After creating a setup on the magnetic panel, you can photocopy or scan your work for future reference. Homeowners with existing builder’s plans or blueprints can use the Arranger in a different way: by placing a design drawn in the same scale on the panel and adding magnets on top.

For testing purposes, I re-created a tiny version of my living room and discovered that the Furniture Arranger that seems to have everything is actually missing something: futon-shaped magnets.

Drawing on a whiteboard and moving around tiny televisions is surprisingly cathartic. Though I’m typically resistant to major furniture changes, I found myself wondering: “What would happen if I repositioned my bookcase across from the futon, rather than next it?” It was a revelation: Yes, there is actually a situation in which moving a 6-foot-tall hardwood structure can be enjoyable.

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