Condo Design Tips from an Award Winning Designer!

Sunday, April 3, 2011


I know it could be even smaller, but the condo showcased today has a very tiny and awkward shaped living/dining area.

When you see the space on paper as a marketing drawing with no furniture, you could say “yeah, I can figure out how to furnish it later” and then you move in and find yourself in the middle of the space not knowing what to do.
Well... there is always a solution. Once you accept that your small condo space can have only few pieces of furniture and definitely be uncluttered, you can think of MANY options.

Katy has been dealing also with some surprises, like a balcony door shown as a sliding door on the marketing plans to actually be a swinging door. Yes, that can be a big problem! however there are always solutions for that too :)

Let’s take a look at the floor plan. A 2 bedroom condo with a small living/dining. I think I mentioned this before quite a few times- choose the layout that suits your are few questions to answer before you make a purchase:

- do I need a second bedroom as a guest room, home office, den-TV area to hang out with friends, walk-in closet (extra storage) or is it an actual bedroom used by a parent or child?

- do I dine at home every day or do I go out most of the week?

- do I entertain at home a lot?

- is TV area an important area to be configured in the living space or do I just need a conversation area and comfy seating?

I could go on and on with questions like this, but this is actually how we start our conversation with our private clients. Your lifestyle will dictate your space configuration and priorities for certain furniture items vs others.

Option 1 furniture plan shows the answer to one question- dining for 2, a young couple who loves the city views and intimate dinners under a sparkling chandelier.

Option 2 furniture plan showcases a dining table for 4, often entertaining from home, a family who appreciates minimalistic design, great open space and lots of accessories like a mix of textures and plants in the planters placed behind the sofa.

Katy is really lucky! yes she has a small space AND she almost gave up the dining table thinking ‘there is no way I can fit one in’, but the good news is: there are plenty of options including a dining table. The question is: dining for 2 or dining for 4? Each answer can trigger a different response and a different furniture layout.

Here are 5 factors to take into consideration when you deal with SMALL spaces like this one:

1. The most important factor to consider is that most likely the sofa will be a 6’ sofa (called also a 2 seater or a loveseat). This is not the case when you choose a low profile sofa-chaise like this one. A great accent chair will spice up the overall look and make it look really interesting- think of a boutique shop vs a department store, size doesn't even matter but what you find in a boutique store and most importantly how is presented :)

2. The second most important factor to consider is to choose a low profile sofa (for this exercise I considered a very contemporary, casual yet sophisticated and natured inspired look). The idea is to have a sofa with a low backrest so it doesn’t visually cut the room into two. Even better- I chose a chaise sofa- one that gives you the most comfort when watching tv or relaxing with a good book. Keep in mind that not all sofas look good from behind and need a sofa table to help achieve a well defined seating area.

3. The colors of your furnishings and the overall space are soooooo important- in a small space like this one where the sofa is placed floating in the room, it is extremely important to stay within 1-2 color tones in the living/dining space. Think of playing with textures of similar colors rather than mixing too many colors.

4. Use the space height fully- for example, your tv unit could be light (in color and design) and be as high as your living space. Accesorize it so the tv doesn’t become the focus but the entire unit which plays a significant role in how the space will be perceived in the end. Also think of a dramatic dining chandelier which will keep your eye focused on the accents (color, light etc) and not on the shape and size of the room.

5. Keep all furnishings light- what do I mean by this? Choose a side chair with a light base that allows you to see the floor under. Same for the coffee table- go with a glass coffee table or a wood slats top which again will allow you to see a gorgeous area rug under or (hopefully) a great looking wood flooring.

6. Well, I couldn’t keep it to 5 so here is the 6th factor!

Always think if all your furniture will be used in the same time, for e.g. are you using the dining table and the bar stools in the same time? If yes, then 2 bar stools will fit in and can be used comfortably while the dining chairs are tucked under the table. Make sure the space around the dining table (not to mention that the dining table should also be visually light- let’s say glass table top and chrome base) is and feels open. That’s why I chose a sofa chaise as the end close to the dining table has no arm rest and will look fairly open so you can see the view and the gigantic balcony right when you come in.

No small space should be challenging, instead choose your furniture items as per your main priorities & life style and have fun in the process.

PS: all images courtesy of 18Karat and Poliform. Do you live in Toronto? Visit to find out details about furnishings used in this blog post for not just small spaces but also for really tiny spaces :)