How to transform your empty, box-sized apartment into a character-filled living space (read: the opposite of cookie-cutter).
Decorating a space from scratch holds so much promise — oh, the possibilities! But often as we begin, panic quickly follows. How can we achieve a Scandi-minimalist vibe without the starkness? Or a bright bohemian aesthetic that doesn’t look overdone? The answer lies in how you strategize, especially when it comes to small spaces. So trade in that hesitation for inspiration, and follow these five fool-proof steps to create the apartment of your dreams.
Step 1: Determine your design style
Before you start thinking about furniture, discover your style preference. Do you gravitate toward modern farmhouse vibes à la Joanna Gaines or a more pared-back Scandinavian aesthetic? Let your inspiration run wild — browse Pinterest, flip through your favourite home decor magazines (ahem) and bookmark the interiors that speak to you until a theme begins to take shape. PS: It’s okay to blend elements from different design styles together, as long as you identify them, so you’re able to create a sense of unity.
Step 2: Find your focal point
Photography: Janis Nicolay | Story: Parisian-Inspired Apartment Mixes Old and New for a Laissez-Faire Feel
Now that you’ve established your design style, think about your new space’s jumping-off point. Does your apartment feature a gorgeous heritage fireplace? Do you have a statement emerald green sofa that’s definitely making the move? Have you always dreamt of adding a patterned feature wall? Settling on a home’s centrepiece is especially important in smaller spaces like an open-concept condo, since it will be visible from multiple areas and can help dictate everything from your colour scheme to the overall furniture layout.
Step 3: Think in sections
Consider each room or zone in your apartment (entryway, living room, kitchen, bedroom, workspace etc.), and make a list of the major pieces you’ll need for each one — from furniture to new appliances. Take stock of what you already have that meets these needs, and visit your favourite design stores to find the remainder. When sourcing furniture, come up with a few different options at various price points to compare and determine what you’re comfortable spending. See here for tips on where to splurge and save in every room.
Step 4: Plan it out
Now comes time to refine the above-mentioned list, taking measurements to confirm if the chosen pieces will realistically fit in your small space. Always keep scale in mind to avoid over-stuffing (a large sectional in a small condo will likely look out of place, so opt for a charming loveseat instead). Think about purpose as well: Do you really need an obtrusive media stand if you’re not one to watch much TV? There are handy apps on the market now that will help you design your space virtually, eliminating all the guesswork. Once you’ve finalized your plan and placed your furniture orders, it’s time to bring the look together!
Step 5: Add over time
Photography: Janis Nicolay | Story: A Pair of Empty Nesters Trade Their Suburban Home for a Pretty Condo in the City
Remember that designing a condo is a gradual process. It’s easy to get excited and order an entire furniture collection all at once — but as mentioned above, it’s important to stick with the essentials first (read: bed frame, sofa and dining table) and incorporate the remainder over time. After all, the most well-appointed homes are those that maintain an authentic, curated feel while reflecting the personality of those who live there. Seek enjoyment in scouring local design boutiques on a low-key Sunday or source items that speak to you during your next trip abroad. You’ll love your space that much more for it.