Condo Design Tips from an Award Winning Designer!

Monday, November 1, 2010


As requests from readers to review their condo space are pouring in, I’m excited to be able to help another couple who is challenged by the size and the shape of their condo space. Yes, I have to admit, moving in a small space could be challenging and my first advise would be to try and utilize every square inch of that space.

674sq.ft is considered a small space and yet we all want to make the most of it by being able to have the right furniture, lighting, colors and be able to enjoy the space with family and friends.

Let’s get the ball are some of the most frequent asked questions:

Q: Some initial concerns I had with the unit were the small sized living room caused by the structural column and pillars. As such I was looking for help in selecting furniture pieces which would be most effective use of space and functionality.

A: This particular unit comes with wonderful views and a very generous balcony and as mentioned before in a previous blog post, best views should be kept as a feature therefore not blocked if possible. There are different layouts to be considered – see the 3 examples below. Window coverings will play a very important role, having wall to wall sheers for example will emphasize the width of the window and of the space.

Q: What paint colours work well in an open unit with lots exterior light. Also what tones work well together if I wanted to add an accent wall. What about gray and burgundy combinations?

A: Having a bright space is definitely a plus! All colors will look very bright during the day so choosing medium tone to dark neutrals is a good option. I like to combine warm grays with deep rich tones of reds- take a look at these 2 combinations from Benjamin Moore- Affinity Colors.
Accent walls- bedroom headboard wall can definitely make a bold statement. Also the long wall of the foyer and living area is interesting and can become a strong feature with the right elements – art for example. The burgundy color tones can be used in accents throughout the space (think throw pillows, vases, flowers, bedding, artwork and perhaps even a bit of a color accent in the backsplash- see the mosaic tiles).
I wouldn’t paint the structural column in a bright color, to me architectural elements stand out on their own and don’t need bright paint colors to make a statement, but it would be interesting to see a darker gray /charcoal paint color on the column, just a shade darker than the overall paint color.

Q: What types of light fixtures look modern and add sufficient lighting.
A:This is a great question and is certainly not easy to answer in just few words because what is considered “modern” is actually very broaden. Best is to actually find few interiors that resonate with you and choose one style that you could see for your space. There are so many different types of contemporary looking light fixtures and most of the time is the material and the look that will help you narrow down your choices- do you prefer glass, acrylic, fabric shades?

The most important factor to consider when choosing your lighting is to think spatially- one ceiling fixture is not going to do the trick and brighten your space in the evening, it has to be a combination of ceiling fixtures, floor lamps, table lamps, indirect lighting (kitchen valance), pot lights (perhaps in the long foyer?).

Some lights will give you direct lighting (for example your dining light fixture that could be swaged over the kitchen island if a dining table is not an option) while table or floor lamps could create more of an ambient lighting for the space and direct lighting for reading.

Q: Would a wall mounted TV be advisable or TV stand?
A: This is personal opinion- I find the wall mounted TVs look good when part of an actual cabinet- like the image on the left side, a stand makes it look more dressed up and gives you the storage space for equipment and all cds, dvds etc.

Q: What could you do with the hallway as it is a little bit of wasted space.

A: Actually the long hallway could be really well used if you consider a built in, or a series of bookcases like Asolo from casalife which gives you flexibility to utilize the entire height of the wall (Asolo comes in few different configurations and sizes) or you could simply use the wall for displaying of art in which case any deep burgundy colors will work really well.

Q: What would be ideal to do with den space? (desk or futon?)

A: It is not easy to have a desk and a sofa bed/futon/any type of seating that converts to a bed because of the door to the washer/dryer area. It may be easier to consider your living room sofa as a sofa bed or you may be able to use this convertible bench and use a very narrow desk that can be moved around when the den becomes a guest room. Without visually being separated from the open space, I must say the Den is one of the first rooms you see when you walk in and the design, colors and how it ties in the rest of the space is very important.

Many small spaces owners are excited to move in their new condos and while the size can be a puzzle especially when columns or dropped ceilings create areas you didn’t envision when you looked at the marketing plan, they can work really well if you keep in mind just few rules of small spaces design: multifunctional furniture, 2 seat vs 3 seat sofas, fully utilize the height and the width of long walls/corridors for built-ins and storage areas and keep the look consistent throughout so when you are in the centre of that small open space you can see the colors flowing naturally from one area to another.

Any small condo space can be a great space!

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