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How to decorate a condo apartment: 10 expert tips

December 29, 2016

When interior designer Kimberley Seldon downsized from a five-bedroom house to a two-bedroom condo, she gladly compromised on space — but not on style

Planning is everything

Planning is everything. That’s never more true than in the case of downsizing, says Chatelaine interior design expert Kimberley Seldon, who learned that first-hand when she and her husband traded in their five-bedroom home for a compact two-bedroom condo. Buying from floor plans, they could see their new small place had everything they wanted — except storage. So Kimberley got down to business, organizing every nook and cranny to maximize space.

First design challenge: the kitchen. “When it comes to entertaining, we usually have hors d’oeuvres or do takeout,” she says. “There’s so much great food in the neighbourhood. I knew this wouldn’t be a kitchen. I’d spend a lot of time cooking in.” So she adjusted the floor plan accordingly: Instead of large, space-hogging appliances, she tucked bare necessities like the cooktop, oven, fridge and coffee maker behind louvred doors and opted for a small sink. The trick opened up enough space to fit a multi-purpose island turned dining table (complete with ample storage) into the main living area.

She then installed built-ins in almost every other room. “I use them as my guidelines for when it’s time to purge. Once they’re full, they’re full,” she says. The condo is now a model of brilliantly thought-out efficiency. With sleek dark walls to play up the expansive view, it’s dramatic yet friendly and cozy. Perfect for a charismatic personality like Kimberley’s!

Put a graphic image on a door

A graphic image printed on a door
Hall-closet doors are the ideal spot to make an artistic statement. Try impressive custom-printed glass or use wallpaper for a similar effect.

Place a table in front of a full-length window

Trendy decorated living room
Wall-to-wall windows can be intimidating — anchor them by putting a table and sofa in front of them. Hang striking full-length drapes to frame the window and add intimacy.

Throw a couple of bright accessories in the mix

Table decorated with accessories
Punch up a solid interior with small pops of color. Try candles, pillows and flowers to play with the season’s hottest hues.

Choose dark furniture

Office setup with a dark furniture
The home office is quite snug, but a dark wooden desk and a credenza that conceals files recede in the small room, making it seem bigger than it is.

Go floor to ceiling with your fireplace

Big floor to ceiling fireplace in the living room
Turn the fireplace wall into the focal point of a room — go for a show-stopping glass mosaic that stretches right to the ceiling.

Go monochromatic

Monochromatic furniture in a home
Paint built-ins (like this bar) and surrounding walls in the same colour for a soothing yet dramatic effect.

Tuck away non-essentials

kitchen appliances are hidden behind louvred doors
When space is tight, keep out the things you use often, and hide away the rest. In Kimberley’s case, most of the kitchen appliances are hidden behind louvred doors, so they disappear when not needed.

Paint the ceiling black

Black ceiling in the bedroom
Dark ceilings create the impression of height and are perfect in a small space like a condo-sized bedroom. Mirrors behind the bed double the available light, so the room never feels dim.

Create a dressing area

a dresser and mirror are positioned behind the bed
If your bathroom is small, carve out an area in the bedroom for makeup, jewellery and hair drying. (Here a dresser and mirror are positioned behind the bed, which also creates a dividing wall.) A small desk or dresser works wonders. Your partner will thank you!



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