BY MARILYN WILSON, THE OTTAWA CITIZEN June 23, 2016
Whether you’re a downsizer or a new condo buyer, it’s important to think about furnishing in a way that will both suit your unit aesthetically and your own lifestyle.
Many condo buyers are downsizers, who bring furniture from their old homes into their new condos. If you are using older furniture, you may want to reconsider the way it functions in your new space. Not only do looks change over time, but furniture for a large home may not fit in your new condo. Remember: There are two different ways furniture can fit, physically and aesthetically. Whether you’re furnishing your condo with old or new furniture, here are five things to watch for when decorating:
The space issue
Condo developers deliver spaces that may be completely different than you visualized based on mock-ups in the sales centre. Sometimes, entry doors are sized a bit narrower or shower doors are smaller than you anticipated. If you are very tall or large, consider ensuring door frames will provide easy access for you. Don’t just look at ceiling height in a model suite and assume your door frames will be high.
When it comes to furniture, consider opting for pieces better scaled to a smaller space to keep your condo looking spacious and roomy. If purchasing, do not choose a couch with a rolled back, which will take up more room if placed against a wall. You can also opt for furniture with more than one function, like an ottoman with storage space inside or a bike shelf that holds your bike against the wall in an artistic way while providing shelving space. Ottomans in particular are versatile elements as they can be varied shapes, colours and materials; and can be used as footstools, extra seating, coffee tables or storage pieces. Decorate them with stacks of books or lacquered trays or leave them bare to use as seating.
Create cohesive spaces
When decorating, many people arrange couches around focal point fireplaces, but if you subscribe to this decorating philosophy, be sure not to chop up the room. Condos often have open concept living/dining rooms and to create separate spaces, you might want to place a narrow table behind the couch to create interest and create a division that looks planned, rather than forced.
Today’s furniture designs offer various looks, but whether you decide on traditional or modern is up to you. Many people think that because condo designs are so modern, their interiors must be similarly contemporary; they do not. Traditional furniture can be just as interesting, but try to stay away from the I-bought-this-off-the-showroom-floor look.
If you have a smaller condo you may want to stay away from solid heavy look and buy opened bottomed furniture. Couches can appear heavy if their upholstery intersects with the floor. Think light and opt for floating furniture that has open space at the bottom and creates more visual space. There are floating beds, couches, chairs and tables. Floating furniture is gorgeous provided you keep your floors clutter free — by this, I mean there is nothing worse than seeing piles of magazines framed by the view under your sofa. Floating airy furniture along with lucite and glass furniture prevents the decor from feeling too heavy.
Likewise, heavy-legged tables and chairs can fill up a condo space and look out of place, but furniture does not have to be wimpy. It can still be solid, while allowing for an airier, spacious feel.
If you have collections — of art, teacups, books, hats, or anything else — consider curating your displays like a museum would. Instead of cramming walls, tables and display shelves full of beautiful artifacts, arrange things into your “permanent collection” and your “temporary exhibitions.” This way of thinking will keep your space clean and organized and prevent it from becoming overwhelmed by things. For those downsizing, rethink what you own. What are the key items you love?
I know someone with a sculpture collection who built a custom display cabinet that enabled him to group his collection, which was previously spread out around his home. Many times, grouping items you own can make a powerful statement.
Given that many condos have glass curtain walls, wall space in your new condo may be at a premium.
If you have an art collection, keep in mind both the amount of available wall space and the amount of light that will shine on these walls, as constant exposure to sunlight might affect your art. You may like the way a piece looks on a certain wall, but don’t forget that it may be faded by sunlight — a condo with floor-to-ceiling windows will let in more light than your average home.
When planning your condo interior, use your condo sense to make the most of your square footage.
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen