Top 5 condo no-no's
By Lisa Canning
SPECIAL TO YOURHOME.CA
Decorating a condo requires a tool box of tricks that differ from the approach you might take in designing a 4,000 square foot home. In this instalment of Condos by Canning, I’ll walk you through my top five condo decorating no-no’s and teach you how to avoid these common pitfalls.
NO-NO NUMBER 1: OVERSIZED FURNITURE IN A SMALL SPACE
There are certain realities that come with decorating a condo, and an important one is maximizing small space. That dining table for six may have been perfect at your mom’s place, but in a 750 square foot condo you might be pushing your luck. Look for condo size sofas and dining tables that are designed to convert and extend as your needs arise. Many of these pieces are also designed to be low in height so as to not obstruct views in open concept spaces. My favourite condo size shopping spots are Structube and The Urban Brick at College Park.
NO-NO NUMBER 2: LIVING ROOMS THAT LOOK LIKE YARD SALES
Yes it’s true, there is a popular trend today in mixing new purchases with yard sale or vintage finds for an eclectic vibe. But to reference no-no number 1, in a small space this look can appear cluttered and chaotic. In typical condo layouts you can see much of the space at the same time, so you want things to flow and have a sense of unity. Consider slip covering second-hand chairs in coordinating colours or painting wood furniture for a cohesive look. Restraint is key: edit well and allow the eye room to breathe.
NO-NO NUMBER 3: BAD LIGHTING
A problem I encounter with many of my condo clients is insufficient lighting — even in new builds! While one solution is to purchase additional floor or table lamps, I am a big proponent of installed ceiling and wall light fixtures. In the trusted hands of a qualified electrician, a gorgeous hanging pendant or matching wall sconces can be yours for less than you would expect. Use a combination of light sources to add drama and depth to your space.
NO-NO NUMBER 4: NEGLECTED WINDOWS
A lovely feature in many condo units is gorgeous, expansive windows, often boasting great views! Unless you are intentionally going for a minimalist look, I find a lack of window treatments looks unfinished and bare. Textiles add warmth to a space and can provide dramatic pops of colour and contrast. Consider a bold, saturated drape, such as cobalt blue, against a pale paint colour in a similar shade, like a light blue-grey. Gorgeous! Before you head off to the seamstress, check with your condo board to see if there are any limitations regarding window treatments in your building, such as requiring white lining on the backside of drapery panels.
NO-NO NUMBER 5: NO PERSONALITY This is a no-no not limited to condos. But I am picking on condos because the mass production of matching units in buildings makes it even more essential to put your personal stamp on your space. Otherwise it remains a big ubiquitous white box in the sky. I remain steadfast to this tried and true decorating mantra: The simplest way to inject personal panache is with paint. However in a condo, it is even more important to test your desired colour in a large swatch — I like to go at least 12” x 12” — so you can see what it looks like with morning light and the reflections off traffic, neighbouring condos and store fronts in your area.
Lisa is an interior decorator, stylist & blogger in Toronto and lover of all things condo. For more of her thoughts on condo design check out www.condosbycanning.wordpress.com.