Their glass walls, open-concept layouts and modern finishes make condos a hot commodity – not to mention their affordable price point and great investment potential. But when your goal is to make a brand new condo “home,” the “cookie-cutter” design can present some challenges. Here are three common condo quirks, and some creative solutions to infuse yourself into your home.
OPEN CONCEPT LAYOUT
We all love the bright and airy aesthetic of an open-concept interior. Without valuable space wasted on walls and halls, even a compact layout can look and live larger than its actual square footage. The challenge is creating intimacy in a vast, open space. Where do you even start?
Bring warmth to your open interiors by creating multiple “vignettes” that invite you to get up-close and personal. Create a conversation area by pairing a couple of chairs and a side table and an area rug. Add a table lamp and some juicy gossip and voila! Consider arranging a sitting area by the window, a reading nook tucked into a corner, or an “art space” with some of your favourite photographs or paintings featured on a gallery wall.
TIP: Take note of the various focal points within your open-concept space. The windows, a fireplace, an architectural feature, a fabulous piece of art. Let these guide where you place your vignettes.
LIMITED SQUARE FOOTAGE
Homes seem to be getting smaller and smaller these days. If your space is limited, look beyond size and focus instead on efficiency. A great way to personalize your “standard” condo unit is with a custom storage system. The beauty of custom is that it’s made to fit your space and your lifestyle. Not only will this add ease to your daily tasks, but your home will appear cleaner and believe it or not, bigger!
“Custom” anything can come at a steep price, so consider multi-purpose furnishings with integrated storage as a more cost-efficient, less-permanent way to boost your condo’s storage space. The good news is with the rise in condo living, there are lots of furniture designers and manufacturers that think outside the box to bring multi-function to every piece of furniture. Beds with storage space underneath; hydraulic coffee tables that lift into a dining table; Murphy beds that, when folded away onto the wall, reveal a small desk or shelf underneath that (amazingly!) has all of your books and baubles in place, undisturbed and on display.
The neutral finishes and wall colour were a smart choice on paper, at least when it comes to the longevity of your interior finishes. But where’s the flair? Where’s the pizzazz? Think of your new condo as a blank canvas awaiting your brushstrokes – and there’s no easier way to do that than with colour.
Colour can dramatically change the aesthetic and atmosphere of a cookie-cutter condo. In fact, colour has been proven to have psychological effects on people, which is why it’s important to choose the right one. Before deciding on a colour to splash on the walls, ask yourself how you will be using the space and how you want to feel in it.
TIP: If your condo has an open-concept floor plan, adjoining areas should all be painted in the same colour family. This is why you’ll often see neutral choices dominating condo interiors. You can easily add pops of colour and pattern to your space via window coverings, upholstery, sofa cushions, area rugs and wall art.
I’ve heard people refer to their brand-new home as a “blank slate.” This can be both a blessing and a curse for some condo dwellers. You set foot into your brand new condo for the first time and the high ceilings, bright-white walls and undefined areas within the open floor plan is almost too vast. Where do you start? I always advise my clients to look within – you truly are your own best inspiration.
Toronto-based, award-winning Interior Stylist, Red Barrinuevo is an Interior Decorator and Principal of Redesign4more, servicing clients in Toronto and the GTA. The firm’s known for enhancing and creating stylish yet functional spaces through their creative home staging, interior styling services, and design services. www.redesign4more.com.