Condo Design Tips from an Award Winning Designer!

Monday, February 1, 2010

THE GREAT HOMEBUYERS DEBATE: CONDO OR TOWNHOUSE?

I must say this is one of the questions I get most of the time “can we use one of your condo model suites designs for our townhouse?”. And the answer is always YES, but you always have to consider the layout of the space before replicating a design you choose.
When it comes to design, condos and townhouses layouts could be very similar. When thinking about how to design each space, there are few things to be considered first and foremost.
Below is an example of how one space can have at least two different furniture layouts, both generated space functionality and not only the esthetics. 




 Wall space- the size of all walls, location of windows, pilasters or columns, and walls height (the presence of bulkheads is very important as they can create lower wall spaces that need to be addressed accordingly). Some of the kitchens are connected with a travel path like in the layout below, in which case the kitchen island can be designed to either connect the kitchen with the entrance or totally separate them, visually and functionally. 
Always keep in mind that you have the option to have a kitchen island designed for dual functionality, food preparation and dining table. The kitchen and dining table design have to work together and create a cohesive look.
- When it comes to living/dining area one feature that must be taken into consideration is the open stair. There are 2 main options- you either arrange the furniture so it faces the stair- this creates the feeling of a very open space; the second option is to create a conversation area that has as the main attraction- the fireplace, a great focal point for any space, this option creates a more intimate sitting area, the stair remains visually part of the travel path and not part of the Sitting area.
See more images of this integrated dining/kitchen area...
- For the Den area there are many possibilities, it all depends on what is the function of that space, it could be a home office, a library, a tv area and if enclosed it could become a guest room!
- On the second level (see the color image below), bedroom 2 and bedroom 3 are very similar to a condo bedroom but they have a plus- it allows for a built in bench in front of the window which will add storage space but also sitting space, so important for decorating a bedroom!
- Master bedroom located on the 3rd level has a great layout! I mentioned in a previous blog “the small suite” that all layouts with an irregular shape, with niches, nooks and an asymmetric layout are in fact a bonus, because the area occupied by the bed is easy to be configured first, then the remaining areas around can be beautifully designed as seating areas, built ins for audio video systems, fireplaces and even water features!

In addition to different design options, here are few things to be considered before making a final decision:

- Ownership is to be considered first, when buying a condo you own only the interiors of that condo, when buying a townhouse you own the land (in some cases), the interiors plus the yard or deck. The condominium owner also shares tenancy with other units owners in the common areas, such as the driveways, parking, elevators, outside hallways, recreation, and landscapes areas that the homeowners association homeowners. People are attracted to townhouses because they have all the advantages of houses but none of the upkeep.

- You definitely have more privacy in a townhouse than in a condo, but safety is considered higher in a condo than in a townhouse.

- Condo communities may provide such shared facilities as a pool, gym, tennis courts and clubhouse, all maintained by the condo association, which takes care of all day-to-day management tasks. This is one of the key advantages of condo living - all of the joy of using the amenities, none of the hassles of maintaining them. A townhouse is like a house in that the owner owns both the structure and the land on which it sits; but it is not free-standing, the land is limited to the front and back yards.

- There are many buyers looking for more square-footage than a condo could provide. The difference between a townhouse buyer and condo buyer was that the former is looking for a small garden/patio, for more privacy (considering that you don’t have another unit below or above yours), and prefers a multilevel living space.

Changing lifestyles has seen people seek to simplify and downsize from large, detached homes. Condominium ownership is the most likely answer. But living in a box, no matter how nice, doesn't appeal to everyone. Townhouses are seen as a transitional step and a good compromise for downsizing home buyers.


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