Every home buyer has, firmly engrained in his or her brain, a wish list of elements – some "nice to have" and some "can't live without." The challenge is finding that elusive home that fits both the budget and the list.
My clients, a fashion editor and a scholar, were searching for a first home in a west end Toronto neighbourhood that would give them a bit more breathing room than the cramped rental condominium they were used to. A spacious master bedroom with walk-in closet and a single decent-sized bathroom with separate tub and shower didn't seem like too much to ask … until they went house hunting.
They ended up with a four-bedroom detached home with a smallish master bedroom, a small, dysfunctional, three-piece bathroom in horrible condition, and not many options to redefine and configure the existing layout. That fourth bedroom (at 8 by 10 feet, it barely warranted the title) was the saving grace. By shifting walls and entrances and removing a hallway, we arrived at a plan that created a shared bathroom for the three remaining bedrooms, a refreshed and redecorated principal bedroom, and a walk-in closet to satisfy the lady of the house's need to store many a designer dud.
The enemy of small-space living is clutter. Your bedroom should be a restful and relaxing area. It should not be junked up with bills, paperwork or any unnecessary items that might impede relaxation and sleep. When moving into a new space or redecorating an existing one, consider the old William Morris adage I try to live by: "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." If you don't love it, and you don't need it, why make space for it?
Expect more from everything
Another theme of small-space living is that every piece of furniture needs to have something that makes it better than the average. Instead of a bed that just allows your mattress to sit on top, while inviting dust bunnies to move in below, why not invest in a bed base that both supports the mattress and offers four oversized storage drawers (because no matter how much you know you should purge it, I'm pretty sure you're looking for a place to store more stuff than you have space for). Instead of just settling for a bedside table with a single top surface, choose one that features a second shelf (it's a great place to keep all the books you're hoping to get to).
Be coolly neutral
It's a well-known fact that only one colour is always in style – black! When faced with the
task of designing a retreat for an au courant fashion client, it seemed the only safe approach was to steer clear of my habitual love of colour in favour of a neutral greyscale approach. There's no need to perceive neutrals as dull or lacklustre. A monochromatic palette can still be energetic and interesting if you rely on pattern for impact. Black-and-cream fauxbois wallpaper adds texture to the walls (and hide decades of cracks in the less than perfect plaster), while crisp black-and-white striped sheets keep the room from looking dorm-room basic. A few yards of richly patterned European linen becomes a custom bedspread.
Take the edge off your black
To some, black can seem severe and cold, but the interpretation is all in the way you embrace it. Instead of all black, high-gloss and hard edges, why not opt for pieces with a softer expression? Bedside task lights that blend retro form with antiqued brass accents help create a warmer vibe, a vintage pendant light with an orb-like shape infuses a groovy vintage nod, and black twill tape on white wood slat window blinds makes an otherwise average window covering stand out.
Conquer your closet
The best option for a client who envisioned more than a simple hanging bar in their closet used to be a costly fully customized cabinetry solution. But the need to make the most of every small space has led to the introduction of some really clever component storage systems that allow you to configure your closet to suit your lifestyle, with a variety of elements that attach to an easy to install framework. This industrial loft-inspired system is comprised of vertical posts that run from floor to ceiling and can be filled in with your desired combination of drawers, hooks, hanging bars, open shelves, and of course … the oh so desirable slanted shoe shelf that allows you to elevate your expensive shoe-collecting habit into eye-level art, on display to be enjoyed every time you enter your closet.
Sarah Richardson's Real Potential can be seen Thursdays at 9 p.m. on HGTV.
Broadloom Allan Rug Company www.allanrug.com
Side tables, bed frame, mattress, pillows, duvet & black frames IKEA www.ikea.ca
Wood slat blind Blinds To Go www.blindstogo.com
Wallpaper (Wood Grain - Black & White 92/5028 CS) & pillow fabric on chair (Confetti -Cream GWF-2810-18) Lee Jofa Fabrics www.leejofa.com
Pillow fabric (Park Avenue Python - Dove 175060) & coverlet fabric (Chanter - 19465 981) Bilbrough & Co. Ltd. www.bilbroughs.com
Window supply & installation Fieldstone Windows & Doors Ltd. www.fieldstonewindows.com
Occasional table Urban Barn www.urbanbarn.com
Sheet sets & duvet cover Homesense www.homesense.ca
Pair of task lamps West Elm www.westelm.com
Chair Chair Table Lamp www.chairtablelamp.com
Collection of woven baskets Snob www.snobstuff.com
Light fixture, accessories, boxes Eclectisaurus www.eclectisaurus.com
Rattan bowl Kiondo African Imports Inc. www.kiondo.com
Closet system, mirror, shelving, brackets, boxes, hangers IKEA www.ikea.ca
Track light Universal Lamp www.greatlighting.com
Paint Colours: Benjamin Moore Paints
Bedroom walls - Swiss Coffee (OC-45)
Bedroom ceiling - Snowfall White (2144-70)
Trim & radiators - Chantilly Lace (OC-65)