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Is the Modern Esthetic the Best Choice for Living in Smaller Spaces?


Homeowners in smaller living spaces are often tempted to create a living environment using modern fixtures, clean lines and discreet storage solutions in the hopes of giving the illusion of more space. Nowhere is this tendency towards sterile lines and clutter free living more evident than in the homes of big city condo dwellers. Where square footage is going for a premium and space is limited, subscribing to a minimalist design in an attempt to trick the eye into perceiving more space is a temptation most can’t resist.


While some condo owners happily subscribe to modern furnishings and fixings and love keeping every knick knack and personal artifact out of sight, there are an equal amount of condo dwellers that feel that such cookie cutter design tactics have left their space feeling like just that; a space and not a home. Such individuals feel that using minimalist design techniques to make 600 square feet feel closer to 850 costs them the very sense of home they were so eager to create when they made their condo purchase in the first place. As a result, many of today’s condo owners are breaking away from the minimalist mold by inhabiting their spaces with all the panache and exuberance of someone living in a spacious New York brownstone.


Nowhere is this penchant for personalized condo living better seen than in the 700 square foot Vancouver condo of Chad Farquharson and Wayne McGill. Take the beige antlers hanging inside a muted picture frame over their white couch accented in bright orange and lime green pillows for instance. It sounds wild and way too much for a small space but it works. It really works. In fact, these bold choices are such a focal point that the condo size itself feels totally irrelevant and all but forgotten! So modern, minimal design choices are clearly not the only answer to creating the illusion of more space in big city condos.


Photo from Small space interior: Modern eclectic condoAuthor: Style At Home

Farquharson and McGill have made sure to use some design tricks for creating both the illusion and the room for more space. Yet they do so with an eye to what they really love style-wise. An ornate mirror hung over an airy glass dinning table, which makes the room appear multidimensional and as though it goes on and on. A chic banquet couch used at the dinning table and also as a second seating area for company after dinner is over. A row of antique folding chairs hung on the hallway as an art installation waiting to be a conversation piece or pulled off the wall for more extra seating.


I can almost hear the condo owners with a taste for color, personal treasures and funky antique furniture breathing a sigh of relief! Yes it is possible to make a small space feel bigger and actually function as though it were larger while embracing the personality and personal touches you want your home to have. Farquharson and McGill have done it to perfection and you can too. Keep in mind the following tricks and tips and your lofty dreams of your own personal paradise will come true literally and figuratively no matter what size your condo is.


1. Decide on your style preferences including things like colors, era of furniture items, masculine or feminine vibes.

2. Address any problem areas in the space such as angled walls, limited eating seating, limited lighting, and solve those issues first.

3. Decide on favorite pieces of furniture, types of fabrics, décor objects and build your room around them.

4. Add as many custom touches as you see fit such as a small wall with your favorite wallpaper, a chalk wall or a wall of personal photos.

5. Make sure that you save on some items and splurge on others mixing old world (flea market kinds) and new (that “must have” at Pottery Barn) is a great way to do this. 



Lara Watson is a journalist and real estate writer living in Toronto.


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