Before & After Condo design at The Seawall Suite
Small spaces are some of the most fun to design because seemingly small moves are all it takes to make a big impact on the interior! It’s also the smallest details that bring the look to life since they don’t get lost within a larger space. Small space, small renovation, small details all equal BIG results — and this is exactly the ideal that was brought to life in one of my latest projects, the Seawall Suite.
I got the call to design this condo from a homeowner in need of a fresh start. With nothing but a couple of suitcases, and a temporary chair to use while waiting for her new space – we transformed an otherwise basic condo into a luxe suite, with all of the serenity of a spa and the character of the coast. The result? A beautiful personal place to call home.
Along the way, I practiced my most tried and true interior design tips for a small space with BIG impact. Try them in your home and love the difference it makes!
BEFORE: Real estate photos when the homeowner purchased their space and called us in to design her home worth celebrating!
AFTER: A spa inspired home on the coast personalized from top to bottom
Choose a calming colour palette
In a small space, I love to layer tones of the same hue for a monochromatic colour palette. This allows for less visual distraction and helps to make the space feel more grand. While we chose a light, bright palette here at the Seawall Suite to suit our design goals, but an all dark palette can have the same space enhancing effects while adding a cozy moody atmosphere. No matter what monochrome you choose — make sure to keep it interesting with a variety of textures. Think matte marble, woven rugs, shiny metal, buttery upholstery and flowing curtains. All come together in contrast and harmony for a calm, yet cool, palette to make sure your small space feels luxe.
BEFORE: Grey walls and high shine surfaces and materials
AFTER: A new material palette blends city and seaside textures
AFTER: the monochromatic scheme made interesting by tons of texture highlights the city view outside
Scale up furniture
There’s nothing I avoid more than small scale furniture, or condo sized pieces when working on a small space design. Comfort comes first! And in my experience, when arranged correctly, regular sized furniture only make a small space look and feel BIGGER! Try prioritizing fewer pieces, at a standard scale for a space plan that feels as inviting as any stand alone home. In the Seawall Suite, we also reconfigured the use of space to eliminate undersized areas (like the dining space in the living room) and extend main spaces into something with a little more wow factor.
To take your furniture selection to the next level, also consider the visual scale of the piece. Scale refers to the overall dimensions of the item in LxWxH in cm or inches. Visual scale however, is the size an item looks in a room. So even a small chair can look bigger if its got thick arms, and a base that goes right to the ground without legs. At the Seawall Suite, I chose some pieces that had more visual scale to ground the room — like these coffee tables— and then the rest with a very light visual scale. This way the room is useable, comfortable and taking up all of the floor space available, without ever looking overwhelming.
BEFORE: undersized furniture and an awkward layout make the living room feel much smaller than its footprint
AFTER: Room for two coffee tables, and an extra large media unit. The living room is the feature of this open floor plan
Renovate with intention
Renovating any home from top to bottom is one of my favourite projects to do. Take a look at the Chic City Condo for an example! But, in some small spaces, a few minor renovations can go a long way towards turning basic condo’s into beautifully personalized homes. My first task is always having the whole home painted in one single colour. Applying the same white to ceilings, trims, doors and walls is a subtle space extender that helps to eliminate awkward lines and bulkheads typical of small condo interiors in Vancouver.
In this space, I knew the kitchen needed to feel more like the living spaces of the home so it would flow within the small, open footprint. Swapping the heavy upper cabinetry and built in hood fan/microwave for open shelving and chimney shaped hood created a pretty focal point and allowed for new dishes to be on display. The same white oak open shelving in the ensuite warmed up the space and brought a cohesive detail from room to room.
BEFORE: A high shine kitchen without a focal point
AFTER: Open shelving and new lighting allow the kitchen to blend seamlessly with the living and dining spaces. Textured lighting softens the look.
All of these minor renovation tasks can add up to a big impact on the overall interior design of a small space. And if you can’t tackle them all at once– start with the lighting! It’s the easiest way to define areas in an open floor plan, and add focal points throughout a small space. Plus, decorative light fixtures add a lot of character to your interior in combination with furniture and decor.
AFTER: Open shelving in the ensuite is consistent with the new kitchen design and a glass panel opens up the room
BEFORE: Great marble tiles ready for more layers of custom design detail
Frame the View
What does condo living have that other homes don’t? Amazing views of city skylines, from right inside the action! Framing that view is a must to make the walls of a small space feel like they extend beyond the building. Drapery is the best way to draw attention to expansive views, while covering up some of the less desirable trims, edges, and awkward corners that can come with condo architecture. Try light, semi transparent fabric so the drapery feels fresh and modern. It adds softness to spaces both modern and traditional and ensures your million dollar view doubles as ever changing artwork!
AFTER: A dining nook with drapery framing the beautiful views inside and out
BEFORE: A space being used as the office with dated vertical blinds
BEFORE: Heavy furniture and oversized lamps float in the space
AFTER: Pedestal nightstands and new drapery ground the space and highlight the view
For a full tour of the Seawall Suite, click here. And try these interior design tips for a small space with BIG impact and designer results. Feeling inspired to start your project together? Get in touch via the contact form here and I can’t wait to hear from you and make your home one worth celebrating.
Special thank you to some of our favourite colleagues and suppliers for being a part of this project:
Construction — Unhinged
Photography — Janis Nicolay
Furniture — CF Interiors
Artwork — The Poster Club
Paint — Benjamin Moore
Area Rug — Colin Campbell
Accessories — Provide
Bedding — Pottery Barn & Homebird