Condo Design Tips from an Award Winning Designer!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


When it comes to Christmas decorations I have to admit that every year I’m looking for some new ideas, more so related to a theme.

As many of you emailed me about Christmas decor colors and themes, I thought I’d give you some ideas of how to create a theme and decorate your entire condo space consistently so it doesn’t look like you simply put together all your decor accessories received over the years.

Here are a few theme examples:

-       eco friendly holiday decor
-       nature inspired holiday decor
-      white holiday decor throughout
-       pick a color for all your decor- red, blue, yellow, green, purple?
-       in the mood for a multicolour and vivid decor?
-       materials- what kind? green? faux green? woodsy?

I’d like to tackle few so called ‘problems’ many of you write me about. One of the most common is the lack of space for a Christmas tree. I actually don’t think this is a problem, it just gives you an opportunity to come up with something new.

I found lots of great alternatives to a Christmas Tree! This year Restoration Hardware has some interesting decor accessories & mini lights like these wonderful super small warm LED lights called starry string lights which can be wrapped around any kind of branches. They work great even on these driftwood trees, what a great alternative to an evergreen tree and a touch of rustic, this is the answer for Maria who was asking me about decor elements to create a more woodsy feel and look to her space over the holiday.

Another alternate is to simply use Christmas decorations on a oversized vase/planter with natural branches.
This is really easy to do and it lets you play with your own color theme. I’m sure you’ve seen these white painted branches everywhere, why not create an arrangement and use mirror finish decorations as well as your favourite color for this season.

Let’s not forget about using just evergreen branches and garlands on the largest walls of your condo space, for a great visual impact!  

Decorations come in so many styles these days, I particularly like the ones with crystals as the candle light (I’m sure you will use them!) will reflect so beautifully and create a truly magical feel in your space, even better crystals and pearls! looks like you can use your jewellery too...ladies! J

Not sure how to make your house plants look festive? here’s a great idea! love how this live east Indian holly ferns have been dressed up for the holiday or these faux potted pine trees also from Pottery Barn.

If you thought about where to hand your stocking over the fireplace mantle which is completely missing from your tiny condo living room? Not to worry! You can use any of the wall shelves you probably used to create a more intricate design for any wall.

Here’s a great mini tree idea- wire card holder tree or this tea tealight holder from Blomus for a more contemporary look. Another great find are these lit antique mercury glass trees from Pottery Barn.

Branches & decoration are by far the easiest way to dress up your condo space for the Holidays.

Be creative and use any arrangements you may already have, this image is a great example of how you can turn a window seating area into a focal point, this could literally be the place where you put all your gifts waiting to be unwrapped on Christmas day.


For the eco design lovers, there are plenty of options! The cardboard tree idea   is a great one! It comes in different shapes  and allows you to be as creative as you wish.  

David Starck has few amazing ideas for holiday decor like this one, you can have so much fun painting the wall and adding just a touch of decorations for a more simple/minimalistic approach.  

And even corners like this one, with just a reclaimed wood stool, painted in white with few accessories and evergreen can become a great little detail in the corner of any room.

Ikea has a small tree made of felt  which can be used either on its own or as a grouping.

Are you looking for a serious punch of colour? Here are some inspiration images- think of your favourite color for the season, it doesn’t have to be the exact color as in these images.

Colored artificial Christmas trees have been popular for a few years now  and as you can see they work really well with designs based on a dark color scheme.

They also work great in lighter rooms  where color becomes the main visual attraction.  Even small details like  presents ribbons color coordinated with the red berries and small ornaments could really create interesting details in any room especially in the living space.

When getting ready for a festive dinner, why not think of color coordinating the main decor pieces .

Did you design your space with white floating shelves in the den or perhaps living space or even bedroom?
Here’s how you can transform the look from a neutral color approach  into not just colourful but adding a touch of sparkle, color and light. Blue decorations mixed with silver and white accents look amazing during winter time especially if you have a white decor inside and outsid

White Chritmas decorations have always been one of my favourites! Especially when it snows and everything is white, it almost feels like you bring the snow in.  

A simple wreath can work above the windows, or a silver one works great above a white buffet already accessorized with white bowls and table lamps.

Anything as simple as  this arrangement can work really well on floating shelves, ledges or an actual fireplace mantle.

Working towards a white Christmas decor throughout? don’t forget to add in a couple of white pillows like these jewelled snowflake embroidered pillows from Pottery Barn.  

And you can always mix ever green with flowers that are more like “spring” flowers like white tulips, as they have full green leaves they blend in really well when paired with candle holders also decorated for the festive season.  

For a minimalistic and more abstract look you can play with another great decor accessories designed by David Stark.

Vintage look lovers! there are so many accessories for you, I almost changed my mind with my own decor when I saw these wonderful candles  with musical notes at Pottery Barn.

The truth is that going vintage requires quite a bit of work as one corner or one ledge decorated with this style is not enough, especially if you have an overall contemporary looking space.

But the warmth surrounding groupings of items like the wood candle holders, the old books, the decorative mirror, the branches simply wrapped and the reclaimed wood ledge is not comparable to any other look.

If you like detailed accessories like these star mirrors or these vintage wall mounted skis or these ornate wall mounted hurricane candle holders...then go for a vintage look!

Christmas ornaments look really precious when they come in finishes that makes them look old, as old as Christmas tradition is! Afterall, it’s all about the essence of the values we live our lives by every day especially around Christmas when we all sing...Joy to the World.

That’s what we all want, don’t we? Enjoy the holidays :)

Images provided as courtesy by House and Home, Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware
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Monday, November 21, 2011


If you are here, you must love winter holidays decorating!

Regardless where exactly do you live in the world and if you actually have a white winter, how can you not love the festive season? :) Everyone is in the festive mood (yes already!!) and it literally looks like the world is brighter inside every city, every house, every condo. As I have received many, many emails from you regarding decorating small condo spaces for holidays, I thought I’d give you some ideas.

Small space? Don’t panic! Christmas trees come in various shapes and sizes, but it is not always about having a big tree in your home to feel like your space is decorated for the holidays.

For small spaces like this 590sq.ft condo you have to think about what would you like to see when you enter the space. That first look is more important than you think!

In this particular case, the Den wall which is the first large wall surface that jumps at you when you open the door is a great opportunity for your holiday decor.

If you think of wall decor elements, you will not miss the space to actually fit in a Christmas tree or some large decor elements. Look at the green lines in the floor plan from above, these are the best areas to focus on when decorating for holidays. Try and figure out your best walls for decor in your home.

Believe it or not, smaller spaces may look better if you decorate them right, because the feeling of coziness is already there J

Consider the long walls as the best spot for creating a Holiday feature. Many condos have the dining/living wall as the largest wall in the open space.

What a great place for shelving placed either horizontally or vertically or both! these shelves work as a wall feature year round and...where else would you put your best decor items like candles, garlands, vases with evergreen branches etc.

It works like a charm. And if you have place for a tall but narrow tree in front of the window even better! If not, an oversized vase/planter with a tall arrangement of a mix of branches in your favorite colors/textures) works really great and catches your eye once you’re in that space.

Let’s start with Hanukkah, the first holiday coming up. What I love about it is that silver and blue colors are predominant in the decor accessories for Hanukkah.

All tones of blue are a great addition to a space designed in neutral colors, regardless the majority of the tones are warm or cool. If your space has more of a transitional or traditional feel, these wood carved menorah and napkins from Pottery Barn would help you create a great festive table.
Also Pottery Barn kids has some great garlands which can be used as a wall decor element or for a console table.

I also found these great throw pillows matching the color tones of the table napkins, great if you have a small space where it is easier to decorate using similar colors and patterns.
If you have a dining table made of reclaimed wood, the wood carved menorahs work perfectly! while the silver metal menorahs are interesting for they have a vintage look that looks great in an eclectic design.

Westelm has also a great selection of accessories for Hanukkah!

I Personally, I love, love, love to create a more contemporary look with these great serving plates or the Manzanita candelabra .

Crate and Barrel has very interestingly decorated plates, napkins, cutlery, small gifts for setting the table, all created with the design intent of having a well coordinated interior.
Hanukkah decorations are all about the details and how well you balance the blue tones throughout your place.

I find that Hanukkah colors revolve around color combinations with a cool hue, from green to acqua to 'baby' blue OR from blue to indigo blue and navy.

These are two different color combinations, both work amazingly well with silver and of course lots of lighting decorations.

Kwanzaa is a 7 day festival celebrating the African American people, their culture and their history. It is a time of celebration, community gathering, and reflection. A time of endings and beginnings.

Kwanzaa begins on December 26th and continues until New Years Day, January 1st. The foundation of Kwanzaa are the Seven Principles, or Nguzo Saba: unity, Self-Determination, Collective work and responsibility, Collective economics, Purpose, Creativity, Faith.
You can decorate your home in the Kwanzaa traditional colors that are black, red and green – black for the people, red for their struggle and green for their hope in the future.

These mini vases work great for any dining table or console table arrangement. Mix them with candles and decorative dried fruits  while you keep the background fairly simple (a neutral color table cloth or light wood furniture.

Another way of decorating using these vibrant colors is by using an intricate pattern for your main surface and wood plates and glass coasters.  

Lit lanterns can literally do wonders in a space decorated with rich woods and colourful patterns.  Think of placing the lanterns around your house or condo so that each corner receives layers of light and each color is perceived as more intense and becomes an eye catching feature.

Keep the focus on comfort, but never compromise on style.  A celebratory, festive look can easily be created by adding individual touches to an otherwise neutral and clean colour palette.

Stay tuned...Christmas decor ideas for condos coming up.