Condo Design Tips from an Award Winning Designer!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Small spaces have it, large spaces have it, rectangular, square or even round spaces have it- an area or element that could be featured better than another.
You've probably heard before the term “feature wall”.
Whenever I help a condo owner design their space, they are asking the question “how to create a feature wall”.
There are no rules when it comes to feature walls or other feature elements in your condo space. You can have monochromatic spaces where one element stands out as a feature (it doesn’t have to be a wall) and you can have high contrastic finishes and create featured areas.

When you try to create a feature, think of what you see first when you walk in that space, think of creating something distinctive.

Keep in mind that even a small open space living/dining can have more than one features, it all depends on how you direct the attention from one feature to another without overwhelming the design of that space.

Today I want to show you one example of a condo floor plan of an average size of 796 sq.ft. 1 bedroom and den.

With one typical layout like this one, you could consider to feature the walls highlighted in red. Why? Think of what you see when you open the door. There are many possibilities when it comes to creating a feature in any space, here are some examples.

Den areas are many times open spaces located close to the entrance and in best cases featuring 9’ ceilings. This is a great feature many times underutilized. If you are using your den as a library or home office, you have a great opportunity of using full height bookcases.
The design of the bookcases alone can create an interesting backdrop for a small den, hence keep the books monochromatic so the actual bookcase design does not get “lost”.
If you opt for a more uniform look for your bookcases with no intricate design, you can then play with the color and size of books and accessories placed on the shelves, however I would still try to keep a limited number of colors used in the book covers as it will create a more cohesive look.

Custom wall art plays a huge role in creating feature walls. The image on the left is a small example of how you could create just a touch of wall art by using wall decals available at Home Depot! just type in the search box the word "blik" or go straight to Blik's website.
Another way of creating interest on a long wall is by adding artwork with similar motifs, same size and same frame style.

You can place the frames right above the sofa in your living room and use the entire length of the wall. I would suggest this approach especially for low ceiling spaces where the length of the room can be emphasized instead of the height. Each space has some great features and these are the ones with high potential for being featured!

 Here's another great example of how art can inspire your design. Many times I actually start designing an entire condo space from an idea I have about art.

The image on the left shows how large scale photography can become a focal point or the feature wall in any area- you could use this idea in your seating area, den, bedroom or even in the dining area! One oversized image is split into several frames of different sizes and shapes.
I like the flexibility you have with this idea- think of relocating to a larger condo- you can always plau with each frame and stretch the overall size of the artwork to what suits the new space. This is the beauty of abstract compositions!

For a more classic look, you can create a feature wall with framed art- the trick is to use as many frames as possible, of the same size and shape. The image on the left shows how just a small punch of color can tie in with the colors used for the sofa & accent pillows and yet keep the wall and art frames in a "tone on tone" design language. The image on the right is another great example of using black and white framed sketches. It's the color of the frame that makes all images stand out when you look at this wall from far. The white background works really great with the abundance of white tones used in the furniture and furnishings around.

Bedrooms are great for feature walls. Most condo bedrooms have one large wall without any visual interruptions (created by mechanical vents or closet doors) and this is the best wall for creating a feature.

There are unlimited choices, from using the headboard as the main feature and playing around it with artwork, mirrors, wall trim, paint colors etc.

The image on the left shows a unique feature where few pieces of thin wood trim were wall mounted to create a unique design. You can come up with your own pattern and when using a dark paint color for the wall, you can consider painting the trim in very light color or using a metallic paint.

The image on the right is a great example of a more subtle feature- it's not the color or the contrasts, in fact I would love this feature in a "all white space"! Upholstering the entire wall is a fantastic way of adding texture and interest without introducing a new color. Also it is a great way to better sound proof any room.
From living area to dining area to den to bedroom, a feature wall can be easily created! In the image on the left you can see how a seating area with a long wall right accross can become a feature. This is a great example of playing with bookcases and a tv unit, of different finishes and shapes, while creating one feature. When living/dining is an open space, by connecting them visually you make the space look larger and the design appears more consistent.

Would love to answer your questions about condo feature walls! Post your comments and questions below.

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