Condo Design Tips from an Award Winning Designer!

Monday, March 22, 2010


Golden Gate Bridge at looking south-south-east...
While in San Francisco over the past few days I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between Toronto and other large North American cities, especially when looking at all new condo developments.

This is one of the questions I get all the time: what is the most important factor to consider when choosing your condo. It’s not easy to decide what is most important when looking for that condominium to call home. There are many elements to be considered, but certainly these three are one of the most important from many points of view.

From an interior design perspective, the SIZE dictates if the space has potential to accommodate some of the main functions- reading, relaxing, sleeping, cooking, entertaining, working from home, etc. When shopping for a condo make sure you think about the overall look when all your furniture will be brought in. This is something that many buyers don’t consider prior to signing the agreement of purchase and sale, just to realize after they move in, that an additional investment in new furniture is required.

Why is the VIEW related to the size? Well…you can always find more than one way of arranging furniture in an average size condo, but when it comes to small spaces many times you only have one option. I know that because I lived in one of those spaces not too long ago, and the only place to place a sofa was in front of the window. While this is perfectly fine for certain condos, when living in a small space with a great view, placing the sofa in front of the window kills half of that view. Not only you will not be able to enjoy the view when relaxing on your sofa, but when showcasing the space prior to sale, the potential buyer will not even see the view as a feature.

City and County of San FranciscoLinking San Francisco with Marin County the Golden Gate Bridge painted orange vermilion, deemed the "International Orange" is a true sensory beauty featuring color, light and dynamic perspectives. With a view like this, any condo unit facing the waterfront is a great investment, and this is true for most waterfront condos in the world.
For some people, even a tiny narrow corner ocean view is worth the investment, this is definetely a personal choice.

The orange vermilion and its tone variations has inspired many designers and condo owners to use it as an accent in their decor. This bedroom is located in Millenium Tower condo, one of the most prestigious developments in San Francisco. Check out this amazing 1 bedroom unit.
LOCATION is sometimes as strong as a feature as the view. Small condos are the main attraction for single professionals and young couples, so most likely you spend some quality time socializing with friends. What better location than a nice shopping area, close to local transportation, restaurants, theatres. Each city has its own hot spots, do your research before making a final decision, after all it is the place you will call home

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010


If you can relate to fashion to discover your own design style, how about you start looking at your favourite colors? Are you a black and white type of person or color is present everywhere in your wardrobe?

Did you know that our ancestors believed that color can hold magical powers and can be used to attract good spirits, heal the sick and send away bad spirits? While many people are sceptical even when hearing the word “spirit” color is truly one of the elements that are present everywhere in nature as well as technology.

Almost every industry uses color in one way or another. From fashion to design to psychologists to biochemistry and of course advertising, color can prompt you to eat faster, perceive identical object differently, have different moods, feel different and see different.

When it comes to designing spaces, what's most important is to surround yourself with colors that make you feel comfortable. Unlike houses, condos have a more defined space. There are few elements that play an important role in choosing the color of your condo, here are just few of them:
  • Does your condo have a great view or should the focus be on the interior space?
  • What is your kitchen style (shape and type of finishes) as in most small condo spaces the kitchen occupies a large portion of the open space.
  • Do you have a color that brings back warm memories?
  • It is very important to remember to use colors that give you a certain feeling and not because a color expert says so, and if you're not sure always consult a close friend.
  • Considering the impact colors can have on the overall design of your condo unit, wall paint is your lowest and best investment.
Here are 5 tips for choosing paint colors for your condo.
1. Make a list of all the benefits your current space has- for e.g.: bright, sunny, cozy, high, open...
2. Make a list of everything that you are not happy about: be specific- is it the height, the lack of natural light, the furniture, the fabrics...
3. Where do you think color needs to represent a focal point? Here are some guidelines: a dining room wall, kitchen bulkheads, den walls, bedroom headboard wall, ensuite.
4. Look at your existing furniture, artwork and accessories (especially large items like area rugs and window treatments) and take pictures of everything that stays.
5. Bring all the answers together and analyze them- look at the main color that repeats in your current furniture, accessories, area rugs, throw pillows, window treatments. This is the color your eye will see the most in your space therefore when selecting paint colors for the walls you have to incorporate that particular paint color or the complementary tone for that color. If you will purchase new furniture ad accessories, keep in mind that painted walls represent a large surface in your condo, so plan ahead what would you like to see more- the wall color or what's placed right in front of the all.

As a rule of thumb look for large ticket items (sofa, area rug, drapery) to be in neutral shades (whites, tones of grays, warm taupes, creams and off whites) and allow accessories and small items to add the visual punch. Keep in mind that most condos have the kitchen close to the entrance, therefore the cabinets are the largest ticket item seen when entering an open condo space. So work with your cabinets and make sure you create the WOW factor- after all you really liked the cabinets before you purchased that particular condo unit.

And again think of fashion- it has very similar rules when it comes to a classy look- keep it simple for the eye to read and understand the message you are trying to convey, design is nothing else that a message, sometimes more clear than others. This is why bad color choices could ruin a great design and a very simple design could become extraordinary just by using the right colors.

Send your questions about paint colors by March 21, 2010 at and you will be notified when the answers will be posted.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Fashion design and interior design have always evolved hand in hand. As interior designers, we look at fashion as a source of inspiration because most of the time fashion is a true reflection of the current times we live in.

As the word “trend” tends to be a little scary for some people who are looking for timeless design, it may be better to focus on a “timeless trend” and that is a classic look. Some condominiums have a particular interior design of the amenities areas that attracts a certain buyers with a certain taste when it comes to design, either contemporary or traditional.

Most of the time the amenities design style is translated in the interior design of private condo residences. Many of my clients live in the buildings I have designed and they come to me because the design of the lobby or party room appeals to them and they want a similar style for their condo unit.

Fashion has never ceased to inspire me. And when you look at the connection between fashion design (clothing, jewellery, footware) and interior design elements (light fixtures, upholstery, drapes, throw pillows, accessories) you can’t help but notice that they go hand in hand. Over time fashion had a direct reflection in the world of interiors.

Talking about trends, ladies...think of how long crystals earrings came back few years ago and in the same time crystal chandeliers have been redesigned to appeal to both contemporary and traditional styles.
When talking about fashion trends for 2010 Oscars, I hear words like elegant, stylish, old fashion glamour look, warm natural textures, classic, focused glamour as opposed to over the top….words that are so inspiring for your condo design! How to find your own design style? Think of your fashion style…

For more on this year Oscars fashion, watch this…

Monday, March 1, 2010


People have asked me this question a LOT over the years I’ve been designing condos. And the right answer is ...your condo design is primarily generated by your lifestyle and by your design style. What works for you may be totally different than what works for your friend- hopefully that friend is not your spouse :)...

When you shop for condo furniture, always think about the space function and most likely you will have a double duty for your den or second bedroom. If so, you know what kind of furniture to look for….and when you’re not quite sure how your Den can be furnished, choose furniture stores where you also get a great design advice…

Shopping for furniture is not just about finding one great piece of furniture but making sure what you buy will work, will last and will enhance your living space.

There are so many different functions for every single room it’s just a matter of clearly identifying your space needs. Many condo spaces come with a den that is a very small open area, from a design stand point you have 2 options: you can either integrate the den in the entire open space or separate it. Of course each option triggers 2 different looks, but what’s most important is to find out the main function for the den area.

Is entertaining at home important for you? Great friends, delicious food and amazing space design are the recipe for a great night…

Are you working from home? Make your home office inspiring…

Are you expecting guests over the weekend? No need to renovate, just buy the right pieces of furniture and turn your den into a guest room...
Does your den need to be a spare bedroom or a games room or maybe a dressing area? Check out these already furnished dens, all you have to do is select the one that meets your functional needs and works with your own personal design style.

What’s more important is to carefully shop for furniture because in the end it has to be the right piece of furniture for YOUR space. Shop around, compare prices, inquire about all the things that are important for you, pay attention to the quality, play around with the space planner when you have some time and go to that store that has not just all the pieces of the puzzle but also can show you how to put them all together, when you found that store you found a winner!

Happy furniture shopping!

PS: what is your biggest dilemma when it comes to designing your condo den? email us at