I often receive requests on my website to speak on the "How-To's" of condo decorating. Often clients feel they will not be living in their condos for very long, and thus want suggestions that are purely decorative (i.e., portable) and not structural. Others find the open floor plan of many new condos a challenge, wondering where to begin and end the paint, which I covered in May's Tip of the Month. So here are a few pointers that will help make your condo a warm and inviting nest for as little or as long as you choose to roost!
Bring in color: So many newer condos are bathed in beige, from the countertops to the floor tiles. This is usually done for easy resale but can be pretty bland for living. Think about your favorite two or three colors and work them into each room. Some very popular color trios are butternut yellow, burgundy, and celadon green. If you prefer earthier tones, try cappuccino tan, celadon green, and deep mocha. Go to town with colored linens, accessories, and of course, paint.
Use area rugs to hide sins. If your condo is plagued with (beige!) wall-to-wall carpet that is tired, old, or otherwise stained, consider adding area rugs. You can add a 6'x9' area rug under your dining room set, a 5'x7' in front of the couch, and several runners in the hallways and around the beds. Area rugs are available in all price points these days. Before you make a large investment, decide if you love your furnishings. If you think you'll keep your basic couch and chairs, dining room set, and existing bed linens, then you may want to purchase a better-than-average area rug that will last. However, if you are in a transitional phase of your life, save your pennies for when you're in a more permanent home and may invest in all new furnishings, as well as the rugs.
Purchase a kitchen island. Many condos have limited counter space, but older buildings that have been converted to condos often have enormous floor space! Since you'd probably rather cook than dance in this kitchen, consider a stand-alone island. A far cry from the butcher-block islands of the seventies, today's islands often resemble stunning pieces of furniture, with carved legs, built-in wine racks, and shelves equipped with wicker cubbies. A four- or five-foot long island will store a large assortment of bowls, utensils, and groceries (ideally stored in a wicker hamper and covered with a kitchen towel) and will give you another expanse of prep area.
Let there be light. If your condo is not equipped with overhead lighting, let me say two things. 1) While all of the afore-mentioned tips are designed to be portable fixes, it is actually a very good investment to add recessed lights. They only will enhance the look and value of your unit when you choose to sell. 2) However, if you are dead-set against making any permanent changes, then you must add light either through lamps (pole and table) or with the use of mirrors. Have at least three sources of light in every room; try to avoid placing a torchiere-type light (one that shoots light upwards) on a wall that is dinged or otherwise has imperfections, as it will highlight all of the flaws on the surface on which it shines. Ideally, hang a mirror across from a great view, preferably a window.
Choose the correct furnishings. Often newer condos have large living rooms, which are an open invitation to purchase sectionals. Sectionals are plush and comfy and usually enormous. If you sell your condo and gleefully purchase a bungalow or Colonial single family home, you may have to leave your sectional on the curb. Consider purchasing couches, loveseats, and club chairs to fill a room, rather than a sectional. If you're blessed with a very large living room, try angling the furniture. Angling is very hip and stylish and is actually not the best utilization of space. This is what you want in an oversized room, rather than purchasing more furnishings to fill the space.
So whether your condo is designed to house you temporarily, or in fact, you love its maintenance-free lifestyle and plan to stay for the long haul, beautiful and functional design décor can indeed be yours!
Decorating in a small space can be a challenge for many of us because we all have so much stuff. But I can assure you they have the potential to look as great as any larger space if you keep some key considerations in mind.
You don't need a huge kitchen for happiness; follow these tips to transform your small kitchen into one that you love.