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Condo Scene: Lighting your way to relaxation


Condo Scene: Lighting your way to relaxation

If you’re big on candles, consider ones on remotes for convenience. Some come with timers for easy evening ambience.

Creating ambience through flickering light may involve installing a fireplace but there are other less complicated options as well.

A recent column tackled the issue of fireplaces in condos and I was delighted to receive reader questions on how to get approval to install bioethanol fireplaces.

Before buying, give your condo board details regarding size, shape, output, burn rate and installation instructions. Most of this information will be available on the supplier’s website.

To cover yourself, get the board’s approval in writing before buying. Of course, every condo board will react differently based on many factors, including but not limited to safety, age of the building, architectural integrity and insurance coverage. You may also want to check with your own insurance company before approaching the condo board to find out who is responsible for coverage.

Condo boards are often inundated with special requests and each will have a procedure for assessing these. The more work you do in advance for the board, the quicker the review will be.

Keep in mind board members are part-timers who have busy lives just like the rest of us. Because they are on their condo boards, there can be a sense that they are “on call” all the time. Respect their time by not bombarding them with condo details in the elevator and trash room. And keep in mind that the less time they have to spend working on a special request, the more they will thank you for your extra help.

Many boards will already have evaluated similar requests and established criteria. If you can obtain this information before you start looking, you may save yourself a lot of time.

Glowing atmosphere

Can’t install a bioethanol fireplace? There are other options such as electric fireplaces that are easily installed simply by plugging them in.

Electric fireplaces have been a mainstay in condos for decades. They provide a convenient means of taking the chill off a cold winter day, but design-wise, I am not really a fan as they generally look dated.

If you already have an unused fireplace enclosure, consider filling it with a collection of wax candles (either battery-operated or regular). This is an easy way of infusing the space with an aura of romance and relaxation.

If you don’t have such an enclosure, consider a collection of candles placed in a niche or on a mantel. The best part about placing candles up high is that you won’t be able to see their wicks, so battery-operated candles are just as esthetically pleasing as the real thing — minus the mess.

If you are a serial candle enjoyer, keep in mind that many battery-operated versions have a timer to shut off the candles after a certain number of hours and turn them on again the next evening.

The candles I am excited about are found at Costco, HomeSense and my all-time favourite store, Restoration Hardware. When battery-operated candles first came to the market, they did not look as realistic as the current generation, complete with flames that flicker and bodies that glow realistically, making them difficult to distinguish from the real thing.

What makes these candles so fantastic is their safety and convenience factors. My favourite look is multiple lanterns on a balcony with the candles on remotes. Finishing off your balcony with soft lighting — in spring, summer or fall — will actually help extend your living space visually and is just wonderful for relaxing or entertaining. In winter, holiday lights will offer a similar effect.

Low lights to relax

Everyone wants a stress-free environment. One way to encourage this is with lanterns. They come in all shapes and sizes, including popular silver, oil-rubbed bronze, the new gold revival tones, teak driftwood, mahogany and more.

Create any look from elegant to beachy by the selection and grouping of lanterns. You can also collect lanterns or plan out how you want them by buying them all the same size with different finishes or the same style in different sizes. Your options are unlimited. For example, two oversized lanterns symmetrically placed on a limestone fireplace creates an upscale look.

Think creatively about where to place lanterns. They can serve as a major focal point for your condo or be used to accent such spaces as an entry hall or living room corner. They are also a great space-filler idea for niches or alcoves.

Having a low-stress, romantic condo environment can be as simple as creating low-lighting areas by adding a few candles or lamps to your indoor or outdoor spaces. Bonus points if you’re able to leave your iPhone at the door.

Marilyn Wilson has been selling real estate for more than 25 years and owns Marilyn Wilson Dream Properties Inc. Brokerage, an Exclusive Affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate. She can be reached through

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