By Ilan Joseph, Broker, ABR®, e-PRO®, AMP® | TopTorontoAgent.ca
March 7, 2013 | © All rights reserved
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The fine art of furnishing a small condo with space saving furniture
If you’re a condo buyer who wants a piece of Toronto’s increasingly pricey property market, chances are you’ll be purchasing a place that’s well under 1,000 square feet. Condos in Toronto and Vaughan don’t appear to be getting any larger.
If you’re a first-time buyer who wants a piece of Toronto’s increasingly pricey property market, chances are you’ll be purchasing a place that’s well under 1,000 square feet.
The small condo conundrum: how to go about adequately furnishing the space in a way that won’t make it feel crowded and cluttered? “Most people just don’t really know where to start,” says Robert Whitfield, a furniture designer and owner of Casalife, which caters to condo dwellers.
Selecting the right pieces for a small place is an art. So we asked Whitfield — and several other creative minds at top Toronto furniture stores — for suggestions.
UNDERSTAND YOUR NEEDS
Before heading off to the shops, do a bit of planning and preparation.
Assess your lifestyle and understand how you plan to use your space. “If you’re a bachelor and you don’t cook, you go out with friends a lot, or maybe everyone comes over for Monday Night Football, do you really need to have a dining table?” Whitfield wonders. “Or a hutch and buffet?
“It requires breaking your addiction to traditional functionality,” he adds. In other words, what worked in your parents’ spacious suburban home won’t cut it in a small downtown condo.
“You have to make the most of your space. Why have things in there you don’t need?”
It’s also a wise idea to come up with a budget ahead of time so you know how much you can afford to spend when you get to the store. MEASURE TWICE
Take measurements of your condo, consider the approximate size of the furniture pieces you want to have, then roughly determine how they’ll work in your floor plan.
“Make sure everything is measured appropriately for your space and that you leave enough room to actually live and walk around,” recommends Thom Fougere, a furniture designer and the creative director for EQ3. “Traffic flow around your space is very important.”
Take pictures of the condo, as well. This will help you — and whoever is assisting you — better visualize your space when you go shopping.
Casalife’s website features a handy space planner that enables a condo dweller to create a floor plan, add in pieces of furniture and tweak things to suit their requirements. [singlepic id=298 w=400 h=360 float=right]
START WITH STAPLES
When it comes to picking furniture, be methodical.
“We tell our customers to start with your staple pieces, your main pieces, and work off of that,” says Richard Spares, manager of BLVD Interiors on Queen West.
Condo living doesn’t mean every piece of furniture needs to be miniature-sized; you just need to configure things properly to maximize space.
So find the sofa of your dreams and then select other pieces that will work well with it, keeping in mind functionality and flow. The sofa can also provide a colour palette for choosing subsequent furnishings, Spares notes.
Pieces that are lighter-coloured and airy — white lacquer or glass, for example — can help make a condo seem more open. “A lot of people feel overwhelmed when they go dark, especially in a smaller space,” says Spares. “So most tend to keep it light.”
MAKE THINGS MULTIFUNCTIONAL
Furniture that serves several purposes is essential to modern condo living. “People should be looking for pieces that have multiple functions, or that have some movement to them,” Fougere says, such as a coffee table that can be raised to become a dining table.
There are also expandable dining room tables, ottomans that double as a coffee table, storage bin or a seat, chairs with a built-in bookshelf, and beds with storage underneath. And a modular sofa gives you the ability to choose the right combination of pieces to suit your space.
Bottom line when choosing furnishings: be sure you need it. “There’s a quote from (English textile designer) William Morris I always keep in mind,” Fougere says. “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
STASH IT AWAY
Storage space is essential to the preservation of spatial harmony in a condo.
“Assessing storage needs should be one of your top priorities,” says Whitfield. “Otherwise your condo is going to become cluttered. Stuff you never threw away will creep into your living room.”
A tall wall unit with doors is a good way to take advantage of ceiling height, and a perfect place to store things, as is the aforementioned bed with drawers underneath. Mount a flatscreen TV on the wall, add floating shelves, and you’ve created a bit more room to put stuff.
Just remember: even if you plan on taking a minimalist approach to the decoration of your condo, you’ll always need storage, says Fougere. “You’ve got to hide everything somewhere.” -source