You just bought your new condo and you’re full of anticipation. However, you walk into the plain, white, empty space and panic. It doesn’t look anything like the show suite that you saw!
Yes, a big (or small) empty space can be intimidating if you’ve never decorated before, but there are a few simple tips to follow that will turn your hesitation into inspiration. And your plain box into a personal and cozy home.
Determine what design style speaks to you
You don’t have to settle on anything specific. Modern farmhouse? Mid-century? Boho? Scandi? Transitional? Cottagecore? I don’t know either.
All you need to do is decide which things you already own that you really love, and work around them. Did you inherit your grandmother’s antique sideboard that you’ll never part with? A really great textile that you bought on your trip to Bali? A strange painting of a cat that makes you feel happy whenever you look at it? Or is there a fireplace in the condo? Or a great view? Start with that as a focal point. A focal point can help determine your colour scheme, or establish how furniture will be laid out.
Browsing through Pinterest, Houzz or Wayfair are great places to start looking for inspiration.
Pick a colour and run with it
A condo is often one large space with the bedroom and bathroom separate, so think of it as a whole. Using the same accent colour throughout on your larger design elements, like the couch, dining chairs and bedding will lend a feeling of consistency, which conveys a coordinated design. As in, you know what you’re doing! Then, select decorative elements — like lamps, throw pillows, carpets and artwork — in the same colour pallet for each room.
Light shades like white, beige or griege are timeless while lending a feeling of elegance and space. But don’t be afraid of something bolder, like black and white or blue and white. Or yellow. Or pink. Whatever colour is your favourite and gives you joy. If you’re really confident, you can mix these items up with different patterns. Just keep one colour consistent throughout for the biggest impact.
Create distinct areas within the space
Open concept living is a huge trend right now, which is why it’s important to decorate harmoniously. In an open concept, you can see everything at one time. But you also want to delineate each space and what it is used for. This creates a more cozy and functional environment.
Hanging an interesting light over the dining table is one option. Using a large carpet to cover the living room floor is another. But make sure it’s not too small. It should be larger than the couch, with the front legs of the couch and any other furniture on top of it so it connects the pieces of the room. Using a folding screen can section off a portion of the living area for a home office if you don’t have a separate room for that.
Make the area functional
Square footage is usually scarce in a condo, so you want to create optimal flow through the entire space. A round dining room table makes it easier to walk around. A couch and two side chairs offer more flexibility than a larger sectional. Don’t buy a king-sized bed if a queen will do. Buy tall, vertical shelving units that can hold both books and special items along with baskets to hide random clutter.
Look for pieces that serve a dual purpose, like a couch or ottoman that opens up for storing items inside. But always remember scale. If your furniture is too big for the space, it will make the entire condo feel cramped. And always measure an item before you buy it to make sure it fits in the space it’s intended for. Better yet, walk through furniture stores to physically try out pieces in person.
Add as many reflective surfaces as possible to maximize whatever light sources you have available, especially if your condo lacks large windows.
A glass-top dining table and coffee table reflect sunlight during the day and lamplight at night to every corner of the room. So do mirrors. And not only do they reflect a ton of light, they also create a sense of depth where there may be none. Do you have a big wall in a dark corner? Is your condo rather small? Add a mirror. Add more than one, or mix with artwork. Add metal accents in the form of lamps, table legs and chotchkies.
Those white walls that at first seemed so boring are actually your best friend since they reflect even more light around the room. They also extend the appearance of any windows you do have by not framing them in with a dark colour that will only make them seem smaller.
Add your own personality
Even if you don’t like clutter, adding smaller decorating items, no matter how few you use, make the space feel more lived in and comfortable. Items that can be as simple as a few candles, a small stack of books or potted plants. You can be as playful as you want. Do you have a collection of some kind that you’ve been storing in a box? Have it framed and hung in a grouping over the couch, or buy decorator shelving that will highlight a few special pieces.
These are the touches that not only make the condo feel like home, but make it feel like your home.