NOW Magazine - Toronto Living - - Front Page - BY MAR­CIA LYON


Condo dwellers may have more frus­tra­tion with stor­age prob­lems than peo­ple in houses, be­cause of the limited mod­i­fi­ca­tions per­mit­ted by condo as­so­ci­a­tions and the fact that ad­di­tions aren’t pos­si­ble.

Peo­ple own only the space in­side the struc­ture, with a fi­nite amount of square footage. How to deal with what they have is largely a mat­ter of mov­ing their “stuff” around in a mean­ing­ful way.


The 950-square-foot, one- bed­room condo, lo­cated on a scenic golf course, was an “in­terim move” for this ac­tive cou­ple. It was to be tem­po­rary (amazingly, al­ready three years!) un­til they con­structed their dream cottage up north. Fac­ing a pro­jected two more years there, they knew some­thing had to give – their uti­liza­tion of very tight space had to be rethought.

The ini­tial ap­peal of this space was a sunny so­lar­ium (A) with a great view.

The kitchen (B), which could ac­com­mo­date one rather slen­der per­son at a time, was not a pri­or­ity, since they usu­ally dined out or ate on the run.

The dining room (C) housed an un­used com­puter desk, and func­tioned as ac­cess to the kitchen.

Un­for­tu­nately, the sel­dom-used living room (D) had no win­dows.

The com­part­men­tal­ized bath­room (E) was tight even for one per­son.

A regular golfer and rac­quet ball player, he wanted his equip­ment handy and ready to go, with­out hav­ing it on dis­play. She had taken over the so­lar­ium for her sewing hobby. Their habit was to watch TV in the good-sized bed­room. This was the most used room in the apart­ment. The per­ceived prob­lems were lack of stor­age space, lim­i­ta­tions of fur­ni­ture ar­range­ment and poor light­ing.


The first step was to iden­tify why the living room was un­der­uti­lized (no nat­u­ral light), and which room was the most invit­ing (clearly, the so­lar­ium). It was agreed to con­dense the sewing ma­chine and sup­plies into a sewing cabi­net, and that the dining room (C) would be the ideal spot for it. The unit could be moved when they build, re­turn­ing the space to dining for re­sale.

This change freed up the so­lar­ium, mov­ing the main living to­ward the sun, an op­por­tu­nity to live with plants. By re­mov­ing the wall (F) di­vid­ing the so­lar­ium and living room, the living room sud­denly in­her­ited those de­sir­able win­dows.

The for­mer living room (D) has a ta­ble (G) for dining, games and projects. A low wall to de­fine the en­try pro­vides an op­por­tu­nity for a built-in buf­fet ledge, with draw­ers be­low for linens, games and cards.

The mas­sive TV/stor­age unit (H) moved into the bed­room, and doors were made to cover the deep shelves for cloth­ing stor­age; linens are stored on its lower shelves.

In the place this cab­i­netry oc­cu­pied in the living room, clos­ets were built (I) for golf clubs and other sports equip­ment (ready to go), books, pe­ri­od­i­cals, an iron­ing board and ex­tra sewing equip­ment. Shal­low shelves line the in­side of the doors.


Slight mod­i­fi­ca­tions sig­nif­i­cantly im­proved the bath­room (E). By swing­ing the door out­ward into the hall, we made space for a half-round wall­mounted ham­per, and we in­stalled two more re­cessed medicine cab­i­nets next to the ex­ist­ing one. We re­moved the door di­vid­ing the bath­room spa­ces. The van­ity was re­placed with a 36-inch-high kitchen cabi­net with a deeper sink off to one side and a bank of se­ri­ous draw­ers on the other. Halo­gen light­ing and more mir­rors bright­ened this for­mer cave.

All the elec­tric was up­graded, us­ing 4-plex out­lets where pos­si­ble, and gen­er­ous use of re­cessed light fix­tures on dim­mers il­lu­mi­nates once-dark rooms.

MAR­CIA LYON is a pro­fes­sional re­mod­elling designer and free­lance writer, pro­duc­ing projects in the Toronto area and ma­jor cities in the U.S. Reach her at 416-201-8867. E-mail Mar­cia@cre­at­, or visit www.cre­at­

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