Photography by Virginia MacDonald
As condos continue to get smaller and smaller with each passing year, it is decidedly still the most common single-person dwelling type of household in Canada. Inevitably, the question of how to decorate a cookie-cutter condo and make it 'yours' is one dilemma many people face.
Inherited style choices
Pulling a small space together gets even trickier when fixtures and finishes, such as the countertop, tiles and floors, have been chosen for you by a builder or the previous owner.
This certainly was the case for my 500-square-foot condo, which came with standard-issue, stark-white walls and dark-wood floors; plus, a kitchen with a busy backsplash of large brown and grey tiles, and a beige speckled counter. While none of these finishes were on my decorating wish list, I knew that with a few small reno and design changes, I could personalize this little white box and even give it some architectural detail.
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Work with what you have
I started with the kitchen, knowing that the finishes would influence all my design decisions in this tiny abode. It didn't make sense to gut the kitchen: the layout was wellplanned, the cabinets were new and their grey undertone worked well with the floors. As for that granite countertop's not-so-desirable brown speckle? Well, it would just be too costly and wasteful to remove and replace.
So, I embraced the counter and chose an inexpensive, handpainted 3 x 6-inch tile in the lightest sandy-beige tone of the granite. The handmade tile worked like a charm to bring a homey softness to the space and tone down the brown-and-grey speckles of the counter. While this is not something that I normally do, the original busy backsplash was installed so solidly, that I had my contractor tile right over it.
I sold the kitchen's original stove, which had a plastic backsplash control panel and replaced it with a new front-control range. This immediately elevated the vibe of the kitchen and gave it a cleaner and more streamlined esthetic.
Next, I upcycled an inexpensive big-box store kitchen island. The base of the island got a coat of paint in the same colour as the new backsplash tiles. And, the island's original butcher- block top was donated and swapped for a dark grey piece of quartz. The dark grey quartz makes both the dark hardwood floors and stainless-steel appliances feel like a purposeful part of the kitchen's design.
Lastly, I switched the pedestrian stainless-steel cabinet pulls with luxe gold pulls and tucked two vintage counter stools with newly upholstered sand-toned fabric under the island.
"WHILE NONE OF THESE FINISHES WERE ON MY DECORATING WISHLIST, I KNEW THAT WITH A FEW SMALL RENO AND DESIGN CHANGES, I COULD PERSONALIZE THIS LITTLE WHITE BOX AND EVEN GIVE IT SOME ARCHITECTURAL DETAIL."
Cohesive colour palette
With the direction of the kitchen set, it was easy to run with the sand-and-grey colour scheme. The dark grey velvet sofa connects with the island counter, while the linen drapes pick up on the backsplash tile. The large 12x10-foot living area rug not only works with the kitchen palette but also brightens the space by covering a good portion of the dark-wood floors. The round white-marble coffee table and pale-blue lounge chairs bring a light and airy vibe to the living space.
Soft & soothing
This lightness was then echoed in the bedroom – where only a sliding door separates the open-concept living and kitchen space – with lavender and sand-tone linen bedding and a large soothing piece of nature-inspired abstract art. The drapery is also light in colour, adding softness and texture to the room, but when drawn together, these thick blackout panels dampen sound and block the city's evening light.
My favourite part of the space is the gridded 1x3-inch MDF panelling. The feature wall requires no headboard and adds depth, architectural detailing and personality galore to the space.
KITCHEN ISLAND COUNTERTOP Quartz in Aramis, Hanstone Quartz. TILES, Saltillo Tile. RANGE, Whirlpool. CABINET HARDWARE, Richelieu. PLATES, CUTTING BOARDS, VASES, KETTLE, JARS, TEA TOWELS, PITCHERS, Home Sense. ISLAND, Ikea. CABINET PAINT (on island base) Inukshuk Advance, Benjamin Moore. COUNTER STOOL UPHOLSTERY, Fine Interiors By Susan. LIVING ROOM SOFA, COFFEE TABLE, RUG, CHAIRS, VASES, PILLOWS, LAMP, Samantha Pynn Home, Home Sense. ART, Amy Stewart, Art Interiors. DRAPERY PANELS, Ikea. BEDROOM SIDE TABLE, COVERLET, PILLOWS, SIDE TABLE, VASE, Home Sense. LINEN DUVET, SHAMS, Samantha Pynn Simons. LAMP, Ikea. MDF PANELLING, Home Depot. ART, Amy Stewart, Art Interiors. DRAPERY PANELS, Ikea.
Samantha Pynn is a beloved Canadian designer, editor and television personality. Known for her approachable, fresh and colourful style, Samantha's rooms are rooted in the classics, but always with her own modern twist. Samantha Pynn Home – her collection of furniture, accessories and textiles – is designed to be mixed and matched, so that anyone can feel like a decor expert. Follow her on Instagram @samanthapynn