Living in a condo can have its challenges. When designing the space, it’s possible to run into issues with creating separate living spaces – combining your open concept floor plan and making sure that everything works together to create a cohesive living environment. Smaller rooms and minimal storage can have you pulling your hair out trying to make your space look magazine ready but still functional. Luckily, as a designer, I love a good challenge.

Design trends can be overwhelming but creative and fun at the same time. Condo living is changing the design scene in Toronto because many residents are turning to condominiums, what with the rising prices of homes in the GTA. We find ourselves in 800 square foot spaces in the sky versus the 1800 square foot home with a backyard. With this being the case, figuring out a way to make your space look and feel bigger is the first item on the agenda.

My “go to” look for 2017 is white. White opens up endless possibilities. Start with white as a base and build off  it to create something beautiful, similar to a blank art canvas.

Paint everything with Benjamin Moore ‘Simply White’ –  ceiling, baseboards, doors and window casings and walls. Painting all of the walls white is typically the first step to making your space feel bright and open. Your condo should now look like a Scandinavian oasis, which is another 2017 design trend.

Finding white too stark? Turn to Alternative Art. Whether your condo is your dream home or a landing spot until you move to your next home, some budgets or preference aren’t fit for original art. Search for more inexpensive prints, think out of the box and find other items to bring unique pops of colour and art into your space:




Bar cart. There’s more to bar carts than displaying alcohol. Choose a beautifully crafted bar cart to display goodies and treats, fun coasters, trays and plants. Art-ify the cart with small personal touches including accessories and items you already have in your home. Use it as extra space to store your finer glassware. This writer loves to  display wine from her travels. Wine labels can serve as art and can showcase your personal style. Find interesting bottles during travels and display them in your bar cart for a unique conversation starter.  Be warned – don’t overcrowd! Simply choose your top 3 – 5 bottles and display them with some of your personal items.






Area carpet. Go on a hunt for a carpet style of your liking. Choose a colour and/or pattern that suits your personality. When choosing an area carpet for your space, leave about 18” of hardwood showing around the area carpet. This will ground your room but also look like a proper area carpet vs wall to wall carpeting. Choosing an area carpet with a bold pattern or colour can add that perfect contrast against pristine white walls.


Lighting. This alternative art option is currently making a huge impact on the design scene. Many lighting engineers are partnering with designers to create beautiful sculptural pieces that can be featured throughout your space. Picking a beautiful light fixture to hover over your dining room table or an interesting lamp for an end table can bring your space to a whole new level. Pairing exceptional lighting with simple dining tables and chairs can make for a fantastic art piece. Consider mixing metals and materials  to tie the lighting in with the rest of your space.





Textiles. Pillows, throws, and drapery are your go-to textiles. Pillows are fantastic ways to incorporate colour and pattern. Choose 4 or 5 bright and fun patterns and spread across your bedroom, living room and/or office without breaking the bank. You can also pair them with less expensive solid pillows to add depth. Pillows are the perfect way to be bold and inject fun into your space.  Invest in solid key furniture such as your sofa, and lounge chair. Simply switch the pillows up every few years  to keep the look fresh.


Alternative art can dramatically transform your condo. Don’t be afraid to have fun with these design trends. Make sure that your canvas is blank, open and airy-white so that you can have fun with the easy items like area carpets, accessories, lighting and pillows – all items that are easy to change out. They don’t involve buckets of paint and drop sheets along with dust from sanding and renovations. Spend less time painting and more time traveling the world in search for that perfect bottle of red to display when you return home!

Your home should be a representation of yourself and should be a welcoming space after a long day at work or when entertaining. Making sure that your space feels tailored to you means finding items that showcase who you are as a person.

Are you up for the challenge?

Photos: Heidi Lau for Harrison Fae Design