Living in pint-sized spaces poses unique design challenges and encourages us to rethink the way we live. From clever storage solutions to considering furniture scale, David Adelman, at Parc Modern Interiors, explores design solutions and tips for making the most of less than large spaces.
There was a time in Adelman’s career when small spaces referred only to lofts. But for Adelman now, small spaces come in the form of micro-condominiums, studio apartments, guest houses and increasingly, live/workspaces. “Our first consult with the client involves a discussion on how the space is going to be used. Is the space formal? For entertaining? Is this a tv room? For clients planning their design, it is ideal if they come to Parc Modern with site measurements or a quick scale drawing. Photos of the flooring, finishings, countertops, hearth and wall colour are also helpful to give us a feel of the existing style,” says Adelman.
Paul McKinney, registered kinesiologist, personal trainer and owner of Platinum Fitness Health & Sports Conditioning was looking for living room furniture for his 800-square-foot condo overlooking Langford Lake. “My personal style is simple, clean and modern, nothing too wild and crazy,” states McKinney. With comfort, quality and modern design at the top of his wish list, McKinney discovered what he was looking for at Parc Modern. “Not only do David and Jody Adelman know furniture, they also know design, so shopping for living room furniture turned into furnishing my entire condo: the kitchen, master bedroom, spare room and two bathrooms. Furnishing every room at one retailer meant that they got to know my style well and we could coordinate all my pieces. The Adelman’s were invaluable for suggesting colours, scale and creating an overall style,” says McKinney.
“McKinney came to us with his own style and needed some guidance on choices that made sense for his space and lifestyle. We designed a comfortable, modern, bachelor pad ready for entertaining,” says Adelman. With a big-screen tv the focal point of the living area, Adelman suggested a small scale sectional for comfortable viewing. Ottomans by the fireplace can be used for extra seating when entertaining or pull them up to the sectional for added comfort.
To create a consistent aesthetic and keep the flow open and inviting, Adelman suggests a monochromatic colour scheme for small spaces. White dining chairs paired with a high gloss white dining table, and a slate grey Moroni leather sectional sofa, keeps the look uniform and harmonious. He states that, “it is tempting to include bright colours, accessories and heavy woods to personalize your home, but once you start injecting a variety of materials the space can become disjointed quickly.”
Traditionally, with pendants over the island and lighting in the hallway, lights are often overlooked in the living area of condos. Taking advantage of the generous ceiling height, Adelman added a sculptural Arc floor lamp, with a Carrera marble base, for overhead lighting and design interest. The 92-inch Moroni sectional with lounge doesn’t take over the living space and can comfortably fit two people stretched out. Overlooking Langford Lake, the chaise was placed next to the window to capitalize on the view.
For dining, they chose a 36×50-inch rectangular Mobital dining table in white gloss with a 20-inch hidden leaf. “For everyday use, the table can accommodate 2-4 people, but with the leaf, it can quickly transform to accommodate 8-10 people for dinner parties,” states Adelman. Heavier scale dining tables in darker colours or heavy woods are going to take up more space visually; white tables or glass will keep the space light and airy.
According to Adelman, there are three important elements to consider when furnishing a small space. Keep the scale of your furniture consistent, employ careful consideration of the finish of the furnishings themselves and be cognizant of furniture placement. When considering scale, it is important to the livability of the condo to maintain some breathable, negative space between pieces.
Hydraulic, white leather bar stools with a brushed steel stem, designed with a swivel, keep your directional options open. Like Adelman says, you don’t want your guests to be stuck in a stationary stool looking only at the kitchen.
A 52-inch modern buffet is perfect in both form and function for this compact dining space. McKinney wanted bar storage rather than display shelves so this sleek buffet provides ample storage below with simple display space on top. Take note of the carefully considered scale and placement to maintain adequate breathing room.
You can always count on mirrors for some small space design wizardry. Aside from providing sparkle and shine, mirrors reliably expand a room visually and reflect natural light. “With limited wall space it is tempting to cover your walls with art, but in narrow living/dining spaces we recommend the use of at least one mirror,” states Adelman.
Adelman asserts that, “a room full of irregular scaled furniture is the #1 killer when decorating a small space and recommends purchasing the central pieces at the same time to create an overall uniform aesthetic.” He suggests that if you buy pieces from different shops at different times you run the risk of piecemeal purchasing; you get the items home and realize that the furniture scale is completely off. For instance, the coffee table could be too high for the sofa or the lounge chair could be too wide, which would bump up against other pieces.
“Small space design requires careful consideration of the ingress and egress of a space,” adds Adelman. If you find yourself turning sideways to walk around your dining table to get to the living area, you have an ingress issue. If your living space is 8×10, for example, he recommends choosing a sectional that is about 3 feet smaller in length in order to create some negative space around it. Negative space makes the room appear larger and impacts the overall livability of your home.
Often overlooked as a purely functional space, the bedroom should be designed as a sanctuary for relaxation. Adelman suggests that the key to this tranquility is a quality mattress. Considering we sleep a third of our lives away on a mattress, he recommended a Magniflex mattress, from Italy.
Paired with a sleek, upholstered bed by G Romano, the narrow profile headboard of the Granville bed maintains the light and airy aesthetic. With hydraulic storage capabilities underneath for seasonal clothes or bed linens, the G Romano bed is both stylish and functional.
Minimalism is the key to small space living. Adleman strongly suggests the use of multi-functional, transformer pieces that will perform double duty and offer hard-working design solutions. Crucial to the livability of small quarters is to stay organized in all areas, from your kitchen cabinetry to your closets. “To reduce clutter, minimize your belongings. This includes heirloom knick knacks that you’ve been hanging on to. You don’t have to let go of your collectibles entirely, pass them along to your kids or other family members to enjoy,” muses Adelman.