When I was tasked with designing the Kingsway Village Square units—a stunning new eight-storey luxury rental building in Etobicoke by Dunpar Developments—I knew I wanted to optimize the square footage as much as I could.
Although the specific suites I was asked to design are some of the smaller ones in the building, that doesn’t mean I had to scrimp on style (or functionality) because of it. In fact, by using some creativity and employing smart strategies, I was able to transform each unit into something spectacular—and very spacious!
Whether you’re downsizing from a larger home into a suite, or you’re looking for inventive ways to transform an existing room or small space, these tips are some of my best-laid plans.
Paint your walls white
The effect of colour in a home can be huge, and it plays a big part in how you dress a small space. Just like fashion, it’s a rather simple rule of thumb. Lighter colours will make you (or the room) look more prominent, whereas darker colours will make you (or the room) appear smaller.
For instance, in fashion if you want to minimize your hips or bust, you wear a dark colour and skip the patterns as this adds size. Lighter colours have the similar affect: It makes things appear larger.
With the Kingsway Village Square units, I kept the main living areas a beautiful neutral white – my constant, go-to colour. This gives the feeling of freshness, airiness, and space. If I were to paint those walls dark, say a navy blue or anything more saturated, it would feel a bit crowded.
That’s not going to help make the space feel roomy. Plus, that leaves very little room to switch things up in my décor. A white palette on the walls gives me the freedom and flexibility to change my furnishings around if I so desire. I can’t do the same if I have to work with a different colour.
If you’re a fan of colour, don’t feel like you have to reject it entirely either. Use it elsewhere in your home, like a powder room or a bedroom. Both could work really well, especially as a feature wall. You could also use it in your artwork or soft finishes, like pillows, throws, and blankets.
Don’t fight with your furniture
When I walk into a room, I want my eye to wander around the entire space and not get stuck on the particular furniture I have in the area. To help achieve this, I used legs on the furniture. I love Elte Markets, it’s a more affordable sister brand of Elte, and they have some fantastic pieces this season, most of which I used to furnish the model suites here.
My goal here was to trick the eye into seeing through and under everything when people first walked into the room because every piece is propped by some legs. Your eye is never blocked. No furniture is flush and heavy on the floor. Each is “lifted” to create good flow and harmony in each room.
There’s no heavy, massive couch that dominates the living room and goes down to the floor with a skirt. No, thank you! Each of my bedside tables in the bedroom have legs, the chairs have legs, everything has legs. It’s a small trick, but one that I promise will yield the most significant impact. Your room will instantly feel more massive because of it.
Keep your overall colour palette neutral, nix all those accessories
Whether in the kitchen, the dining room or the bedroom, I always steer clear of too much clutter. I also avoid bold colour choices, unless I’m playing around with the soft furnishings. Again, the lighter you go, and the less stuff you have, the more open your room will feel.
I’m not a minimalist by any means, but I think there’s something to be said about having a few, choice accessories in a room as opposed to bombarding it with every one of your favourite knick-knacks. My general rule of thumb is always for everyone thing you put out, put something away.
Keep calm and carry on
I wanted to keep the kitchen as neutral as possible, so it could blend seamlessly into the overall design and feel of the space. To do so, I removed all the hardware and handles from all the cabinets. I wanted lovely, clean lines that you don’t get with the business of handles.
To me, it doesn’t give the impression of an inviting space. Now, I’m no modernist, but there’s something about this look that inspires the exact feeling I want: Calmness.
The same sentiment applies for the bedroom. I opted for mesh roller blinds (you could go either white or black) because the fabrication is very effervescent. They frame and balance the room well, so it isn’t too busy, and your eye isn’t drawn to fussy curtains. The black-bronze curtain rods and silver grommets help to keep the look elegant, while also not weighing down the space.
Pump up your colour with soft finishes and furnishings
For bigger pieces, whether it be a couch, a bed frame or a dining table, I work with lighter fabrics and shades. Where I do play with colour is in my soft finishes and furnishings. I like to use artwork, duvet covers, pillows, throw blankets, accessories, and even big coffee table books. This is where you can have some fun, and it also doesn’t cost a lot.
If the mood strikes where I want to switch up my space, I can do it with my soft furnishings quite easily. Williams Sonoma, IKEA, and Pottery Barn all have beautiful selections.