Better living expert, smart choices

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Better living expert, smart choices

When it comes to houses, lots of people think bigger is better. The median above-grade living area of recently built single-detached houses in Ontario was, for example, 2,380 square feet. According to Statistics Canada, that’s 30 per cent larger than a similar house that was constructed in the 1990s, and almost double the size of one built before the 1960s.

At the same time, condos are shrinking: the median unit built in 2017 was about 30 per cent smaller than the 1980s. Given that condo construction outpaces single residential homes in multiple markets, more and more homeowners will need to learn to live with less space.

Fortunately, relatively simple solutions are available for every room.

Hard-working surfaces

Effective small-footprint design can start with choosing furniture, appliances, and accessories that serve more than one purpose, especially important for those who work from home. One idea: keep beauty and office supplies to a minimum in a simple vanity with drawers and a fold-out mirror from HomeSense, and it could function as both a dressing table and work space. With the right lighting, it could also be easily slid into any unused condo corner.

Seamless seating

Sofa beds add flexibility to a small living or office space. Sleepenvie, the Canadian bed-in-a-box company that makes a clever hybrid foam/spring model, has launched a sofa that arrives in a box at the front door five to 10 days after ordering. There are six styles – from a simple loveseat to sofa with chaise that can be oriented to suit the client. You can see them in real life at Leon’s stores. Assembly is minimal, but a white-glove service can do that for you, if you like.

Office supplies that read as decorative items are useful in small spaces that double as home offices. For those, check out designer Joe Mimran’s exclusive line for Staples Canada. The handsome Gry Mattr collection includes notebooks, organizers, pencil holders, mugs and oil diffusers in grey, black, and tan neutrals, as well as a jazzy Terrazzo finish and scented candles in cement holders.

In the kitchen, a KitchenAid stand mixer in a standout colour with a patterned or embossed ceramic bowl is both pretty and practical.

Multi-function cooking options

Some housing observers now suggest that as food preparation kits and other delivery services continue to grow – especially in urban centres – conventional stoves will be replaced by space-saving wall units, coupled with two burner range tops or induction pads that can be stored in a drawer when not in use. Bosch’s 24-inch wall oven, which has special cycles for faster cooking, combines convection and microwave functions, and plugs in with a 120V three-prong plug, is a well-designed alternative.

Barely there barista

There are other, less drastic, ways to squeeze more space out of the kitchen. I’ve been testing Philips LatteGo coffee maker, which makes terrific regular coffee, espresso, Americano, cappuccino, and macchiato, and dispenses hot water. It has an onboard grinder and milk frother tucked neatly beside the adjustable coffee spout, so using it allowed me to put away a frother and a grinder, clearing up valuable working area and reducing visual noise. That’s a win-win in any small space.


sleepenvie.ca, homesense.ca, staples.ca, philips.ca, kitchenaid.ca, leons.ca, bosch.ca

Vicky Sanderson


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