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What Are Plan Views, Elevation Views, and Section Views in Interior Design?

Review types of interior design drawings, their purpose, and the most common plan views

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It can be difficult to imagine places. Architects, builders, interior designers, and their clients rely on technical drawings to understand what a building or a room would look like given its height, length, and width as well as any objects inside it. Plan drawings are two-dimensional representations of three-dimensional spaces. There are three types of architectural and interior design drawings: plan views, elevation views, and section views. Together, they present an accurate idea of a finished project. Mastering the task of creating great plan views and elevation views can help your design projects come to completion smoother and faster. This guide will help you differentiate between the types of floor drawings based on their purpose in interior design.

Plan View Definition

A plan view is the perspective of viewing a building from above without the obstruction of a roof. We get a bird’s eye perspective of the home’s interior, including room layout with clearly marked entrances, windows, furniture, partitions, etc. The plan view is the most common floor drawing in interior design.

Elevation View Definition

Elevation view is the exterior view of a building from the side. It recreates the passerby’s perspective of one side of the home when standing outside. Because an elevation view is limited to one side of the structure, its details will only include the exterior design elements such as doors, windows, or balconies visible from that side. To get the full picture of a traditional 4-sided home, you would need 4 different elevation views. The elevation view is used mostly by architects and builders.

Plan View vs. Elevation View: What is the Difference?

The key difference between the plan view and elevation view is perspective.

The plan view looks at the inside of a home from an aerial perspective. It helps us understand the spatial relationship of different objects within a room. It can answer questions like where to put the sofa, will a queen-size bed fit here, how large should the rug be, and so on. This is why interior designers depend on plan views to communicate their ideas clearly.

The elevation view looks at the outside of a home (at one of its sides) from a horizontal viewpoint. It helps us understand the dimensions and appearance of a building at human eye level, such as what a house looks like from the curb. It can answer questions like what type of gutters to use, how much exterior paint to buy, and so on. This is why elevation views support the work of architects and builders.

What is a Section View?

The section view is a type of elevation view which explores a building in greater detail from a vertical cut through viewpoint. Like cutting into a birthday cake to reveal the filling and layers inside, a section view is like slicing through a building to view it from the cut side, only with  structural details like pipes or wiring instead of buttercream, and with multiple floors or stories of the building instead of layers of cake. Interior designers are less likely to work with section drawings as they pertain to different property development stages.

What Types of Plan View Drawings Do Interior Designers Use?

Interior designers use different types of plan view drawings depending on project factors such as a section of the home and a client’s goal in mind. Different plan view drawings empower interior designers to successfully collaborate with other professionals in the field: architects, builders, landscape designers, and others. To learn more about the different professionals interior designers will partner with on projects, check  out Who Do Interior Designers Work With? Or, keep reading to learn about the four most common types of plan views in interior design and how interior designers can use them.

1. Floor Plan Drawings

This is an interior designer’s classic tool. Traditional two-dimensional floor plans allow clients to understand  how physical objects like furniture, rugs, and other design elements spatially relate to each other  within each room of the house, as well as the physical footprint each item occupies in context of the room’s square footage. It is easier to discuss what goes where with clients while being literally on the same page. While these traditional flat floor plan drawings are an important visual tool for quickly conceptualizing key elements like room dimensions during the earlier stages of a project, they can also be limiting when it comes to communicating more nuanced design details that only the perspective of depth can bring. To up the “wow” factor or get client buy-in, interior designers tend to prefer the more detailed three-dimensional floor plan model in order to deliver the full visual impact of a meticulously designed space. To learn more about 3-dimensional floor plans, check out our tutorial on How To Make Stunning Interior Design 3D Floor Plans.

2. Roof Plan Drawings

This plan drawing provides an aerial view of the home’s roof. It can be used to point out the location of sunroofs, decide on a type of roof tiling, determine placement of satellite dishes, and so on. Roof plan drawings help interior designers collaborate with engineers and contractors.

3. Landscape Plan Drawings

This plan drawing provides a birds eye view of the property surrounding the walls of the house. It can be used to identify the optimal location for a sundeck or a pool, layout a garden, choose visually interesting vegetation to be seen from the home windows, and so on. Landscape plan drawings help interior designers collaborate with landscape architects.

4. Site Plan Drawings  

This plan drawing provides an aerial view of the property at large, including surrounding land, driveways and walking paths, natural elements like rivers or ponds, and any additional physical structures such as detached garages, guest houses, greenhouses, pools, tool sheds, etc. Site plan drawings help interior designers to collaborate with architects and property developers.


Interior designers spend most of their plan-drawing time working on floor plan views to organize the living and working spaces within a house. Occasionally, they work with other types of views in collaboration with architects, builders, engineers, and landscape architects to make sure the client’s dream home is a dream come true, indeed. If you’re an interior designer interested in leveling up your business, check out how Houzz Pro 3D Floor Planner can seamlessly transition your 2D drawings into 3D walkthroughs to instantly upgrade your portfolio. For more detailed advice, check out our article filled with tips on enhancing the quality and effectiveness of your interior design portfolio. And now that you’ve mastered the difference between plan view and elevation view drawings, you’re already on track to expedite project approval, build trust with contractors, and ensure greater client satisfaction.

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