Design inspiration can come from just about anywhere. Sometimes it comes from a lovely stroll through your favourite home decor store or junk shop, and sometimes it comes while flipping through your latest copy of NICHE magazine. It doesn’t, however, have to come from traditional sources; it can sometimes come from a simple bike ride, patience and an open mind.
When we started to work with this young client, it was clear that she was a creative and dynamic personality who was up for most things. We always take the architecture of the building, the hope and goals and lifestyle of the client, combined with a budget to execute a design. Our client bought a condo that was part of a church conversion. Her actual unit had few details of the church; however, coming home through the main doors of a church offered us some key insights into her personality type.
She had the good sense to understand that working with just 580 square feet meant that there was little room for error and she needed help to pull it all together.
We always start to design by selecting the biggest pieces and working down to the smallest elements to complete the space. She first needed to have a sofa and a bed to ensure that the space would work as a home. A queen-sized bed luckily fit the space. We selected a fun wallpaper with birds and cages as a focal wall. There was no door between the bedroom and living space so having a defined visual helped to differentiate the two spaces.
In the living room we selected a “flip” sofa, where the chaise can be at either end of the sofa in the event she ever moved, in a neutral dark grey colour. The pops of colour would be introduced in the toss cushions and accessories. As luck would have it, the metal coffee table was on clearance at the store the sofa was from, so we grabbed it. The only other major expense was in the bathroom, which had a shower curtain to make it seem even smaller. The glass door from Camil Tomiln was not only beautiful but also budget-conscious. The glass opened up the room to make it seem bigger. The black graphic wallpaper played with the black tiles to also open up the space. With all the big-ticket items out of the way, it was time to have some vintage fun creating the rest of the space.
We discovered the industrial table from an old assembly shop. The surface was in great shape with just enough wear to make it an interesting choice. The trend over the last several years toward industrial chic made this a perfect choice. We next found the mid-century modern chair for the living room area. The chair had just two cushions so having it reupholstered was a small expense, for a great chair. The dining chairs were found at a shop that sells architectural salvage. They were originally stacking chairs from a high school. They were not only comfortable but worked perfectly with the table. It was in the same shop we also found the metal drawers from an old machine shop. We carefully selected from the various boxes to find the blue and yellow colours to work with the wallpaper in the bedroom. We needed more storage for the small closet and they were a perfect size for shoes and purses, jewelry and accessories. They required some cleaning but our client was more than happy to put in the elbow grease to make that happen.
- Thinking outside the box can not only make for an interesting space, it is also very eco- friendly in that you’re reusing as opposed to buying new.
- Getting the help of a professional when you have a very small space can be worth the expense as there is no room for error in either space or budget.
- Work from the biggest pieces to the smallest accessory to ensure you get the function out of your home with the budget you have.
- Use remnants of carpet and fabric to get the look you want while keeping the costs in check.
- Create a grouping of art by taping out a large section of wall and filling it in with a variety of smaller frames until you are satisfied with the shape, then remove the tape and voila!
- You can use unusual items like hats, shoes and handbags, fixed to the walls, to create an art piece and not just storage.
With the boxes in the bedroom, the nine tail lighting fixture seemed a perfect fit. A modernized version of a “construction” light but with chrome-dipped bulbs to add that pop of glamour we were looking for. The dining chandelier found at the same shop was a classic mid-century modern fixture and suited the space perfectly. It had just enough “openness” not to block the limited view of the whole space.
Now came time for the smaller accessories. The letters presented themselves and, with just a simple coat of black paint, became a strong and interesting detail for the end wall. The fantastic blue bicycle was her mode of transportation, which we only discovered as she rode up late for a meeting. The great colour and style of that bike was brilliant, and when she complained that she didn’t feel comfortable leaving it in the garage, we assured her it was a perfect combination of design and function. It would be fantastic, layered in front of the letters on the back wall.
All that was left now was some art over the sofa and some throw cushions. We suggested she go out to a local discount fabric place where she could find remnants in her favourite colours. Each cushion requires only half a yard of fabric or less. At just $6 to $10 dollars a yard, the cushions were a perfect addition to the space and the budget.
The art, which can be an expensive part of the design, is comprised of a selection she made based on her work. She was able to photoshop the images to various sizes and have them printed. A quick trip to a big box store for frames in various sizes (but all in black) allowed for the collage. Each image means something to her and reveals a little of her personality in each selection.
Without breaking the bank, her personality and style are perfectly revealed in the space. It was a leap of faith for her, as the process couldn’t be designed exactly, but instead evolved along the way. On this occasion the destination was well worth the journey.
By Glen Peloso inside the 2014 Inspiration issue of NICHE