Condo decorating 101
Advice helps belongings fit in small space
Whether you’re a young, first-time buyer moving into a 500-square-foot condo or older and downsizing from a sprawling suburban home, everyone faces the same challenge: How to decorate so you don’t feel like you’re being squashed into a shoebox?
If your condo is still at the design stage, says Ottawa designer Anna Riopelle, ask the builder about installing pot lights in a decorative bulkhead to reduce the number of lamps you’ll need.
When it comes to flooring, avoid using multiple materials which create visual stops and starts: continuity gives a sense of spaciousness.
Using neutral-coloured paint will also add to a spacious feeling, although doing one wall in a deep colour can actually make the wall seem to recede.
Ask your paint store for suggestions.
“Huge, huge is investing in an organization system for the bathroom, kitchen and bedroom closets,” says Riopelle.
Install-them-yourself systems help you pack maximum clothes, pots and pans into minimal space without it looking like a jumble sale.
Riopelle also suggests a Murphy bed, which folds up and out of the way into a cabinet or closet.
For window treatments, she says, go with continuity as well. By giving a clean sweep to the walls, it enhances the feeling of space.
The key is to minimize clutter, according to the pros. If you’re downsizing, that likely means turning a hard heart on some of those memory-laden knick knacks and endless family photos.
Try grouping a selected number of them for display, and put the rest in storage for future rotation.
The biggest blunder in going small, says Riopelle, is keeping the same old bulky furniture.
Go with simple lines, she says, and use glass-topped tables for airiness.
Suanne de Boer says to think multi-functional and smallscale when planning condo furniture.
“What people don’t realize is how much room furniture takes up until they actually try to get it in there,” says de Boer, general manager of Ottawa and Toronto’s DeBoer’s Furniture.
To solve the problem, consider compact, two-seat sofas or space-miserly tub chairs, found in many furniture stores. Ottomans with storage space are another smart idea.
De Boer especially likes the Pronto sofa bed with built-in storage underneath for blankets and pillows.
She also mentions the Fez table by Skovby. The console table expands with two hydraulic leaves to become a dining table that seats up to six.
Its reversible top offers a choice of either stainless steel or wood.
For the bedroom, a Reve bed, available from Montreal manufacturer G. Romano Inc., is particularly ingenuous.
Its hydraulic system raises the mattress to reveal storage space beneath.
An old-style secretary desk with a fold-down work area also offers more storage oppor- tunities. “Condos often don’t have room for work surfaces,” says de Boer, “so this gives people somewhere they can use their laptop.”
Many experts say neutral colours expand small spaces, but things like colour blocking can also be hugely successful.
Helpings of hardwood add to the spacious feel of this unit.