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Embrace your space, no matter the challenges

Embrace your space, no matter the challenges

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Embrace your space, no matter the challenges

We’ve all been witness to the ongoing condo boom in Toronto, and now this popular housing class is moving into the suburbs. Every time you turn around, it seems, another large, new condo building appears. However, not all of us are owners of these modern builds, with their soaring ceilings and large windows. Many condo-dwellers reside in buildings that are 20 to 30 years old. They don’t have 10-ft. ceilings, or open concept floorplans with integrated kitchens. Instead, many of these older spaces lack some of the architectural features of today’s builds and, in fact, often pose design challenges for us.

One such condo came our way last year. Our client had resided in her large, uptown Toronto unit for more than 20 years. She loved her home, but knew it was time for an update. The condo itself was spacious, more than 2,000 sq. ft., with a large wrap-around terrace. But there were significant challenges that arose when it came to a design. Though the footprint was large, it was oddly shaped, creating issues for space planning. It had a beautiful amount of natural light in some areas, and others – such as the entrance – felt dark and cavernous. The greater challenge, though, was the multitude of dated glass block walls, which could not be removed.

We addressed the issues one by one, and when it came time to the issue of the glass walls, we embraced this initially overwhelming feature, and garnered inspiration from the pattern and texture of the glass block. By introducing more pattern and texture to the space, the glass block began to feel more at home and a little more current.

We also had to work with the lighting within the space. Relocating or adding lighting in a condo can often be an impossible task, but there are ways to address this, as well, when you get creative and work with a good electrician.

We went one step further to help our client embrace her new space, and refurbished many of her personal belongings. From artwork to furniture to small mementos collected over the years that meant so much to her, all the items that were transitioning to the “new” condo received a face-lift of their own. Artwork was reframed to reflect a more contemporary look; furniture was upholstered; and family heirlooms received a place of honour. Where possible, we upcycled, as opposed to buying new. This enabled us to create a completely new and upscale environment that still felt like home.

In the end, this condo received a new lease on life. It transitioned from being an outdated space to a large, bright, airy and welcoming home for our client. It not only reflects our client’s personality and living style, but it has now become a condo with its own great features that can compete in the world of the new condo builds.

Linda Mazur is an award-winning, nationally publicized designer and Principal of Linda Mazur Design Group.

With almost two decades of experience this in demand multi-disciplinary design firm is known for creating relaxed stylish spaces and full-scale design builds within Toronto, the GTA and throughout Canada.

@LindaMazurGroup


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Add value, and your personal touches, with an existing condo

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Add value, and your personal touches, with an existing condo

Buying a shiny new condo is exciting. Common elements such as swanky pools, games rooms, rooftop patios, fitness centres and all the other bells and whistles can be very seductive. Not to mention all those bespoke finishes you can choose from. New can be pretty appealing.

But, buying an existing or recently built unit, and modernizing it to your liking, is also worth considering.

For starters, with an older condo, you can get in the market for about $700 per square foot. A new unit, on the other hand, can run you anywhere from $1,100 to $1,200 per sq. ft. As you can see, there can be a significant cost implication in going the new route.

To be sure, new condo showrooms are impressive, with elegant, lifestyle-rich brochures and other displays that highlight the irresistible common elements. But here’s the thing. When you consider an existing condo, there are other advantages. For instance, you will see exactly what the space and building look like. Nothing is left up to the imagination. For some people, that’s reassuring.

Moreover, with a fraction of the money you save by buying an existing unit, you can renovate the bigger space you acquire, with the contractor of your choice. Also, you can work with your contractor to find the exact finishes that suit your tastes and budget. And, importantly, you’ll get a real sense of how design changes will play out with your floorplan, because the unit already exists.

So, you can afford more space, get a customized renovation, and have control over what that looks like by going with an existing unit. It’s an alternative way to think about it.

Another consideration is that a Purchase Plus Improvement Loan can give you even more buying power. If you wish to renovate, the value that would add to your unit will increase its overall value. With such a loan, you can borrow up to 10 per cent of the total price of your property to fund the improvements. Your contractor will work with you to break down the scope of the work and all associated costs.

Those attractive common elements in brand new buildings are great. But if you’ll spend the majority of your time in your unit, renovating it and adding your own personal touches can make buying resale a compelling option.

GUY SOLOMON is the founder and CEO of Penguin Basements, started in 2011 to bring a standard of process and professionalism to a burgeoning industry.


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