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Ontario housing markets to lead Canada heading into 2021

Ontario housing markets to lead Canada heading into 2021

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Ontario housing markets to lead Canada heading into 2021

Housing markets across Canada are expected to remain active for the remainder of 2020 due to pent-up demand and low inventory levels – with price growth in Ontario leading the way, according to a new report from ReMax Canada.

The ReMax Fall Market Outlook Report forecasts the average sale price in Canada could increase by 4.6 per cent during the remainder of the year, compared to the 3.7 per cent increase that was predicted in late 2019.

The pandemic has prompted many Canadians to reassess their living situations. According to a survey conducted by Leger on behalf of ReMax, 32 per cent of Canadians no longer want to live in large urban centres, and instead would opt for rural or suburban communities. This trend is stronger among Canadians under the age of 55.

Pent-up demand

“The classically hot spring market that was pushed to the summer months due to the COVID-19 pandemic created a surprisingly strong market across Canada and across all market segments,” says Christopher Alexander, executive vice-president and regional director, ReMax of Ontario-Atlantic Canada. “Looking ahead, government financial aid programs may be coming to an end in September, which could potentially impact future activity. However, the pent-up demand and low inventory dynamic may keep prices steady and bolster activity for the remainder of 2020. Overall, we are very confident in the long-term durability of the market.”

Not only are Canadians more motivated to leave cities, but changes in work and life dynamics have also shifted their needs and wants for their homes. According to the survey, 44 per cent of Canadians would like a home with more space for personal amenities, such as a pool, balcony or a large yard.

Ontario housing market

With Ontario one of the provinces hit hardest by the pandemic, markets such as Niagara, Mississauga and Kitchener-Waterloo experienced significant drops in activity, but bounced back aggressively in June as economies began to reopen. Toronto continues to be a sellers’ market, with low listing inventory and high demand. An uptick in new listings is anticipated for fall, now that buyers and sellers are more comfortable engaging in the housing market. ReMax estimates a five-per-cent increase in average residential sale price in Toronto for the remainder of the year, with the potential for modest price increases of up to six per cent in regions such as Hamilton, Brampton and London.

Luxury market thriving

Canada’s overall luxury market has remained strong throughout the pandemic, with market conditions unchanged from the beginning of the year in most regions.

The luxury segment in Toronto is considered balanced, with Vancouver pushing into a sellers’ market. Vancouver is beginning to see more interest from move-up buyers instead of the foreign buyers who drove demand in Vancouver’s luxury market prior to COVID-19. This was likely due to travel restrictions brought on by the pandemic. In Toronto, activity was slower than usual this spring as buyers did not have any urgency to transact during the pandemic.

Luxury housing in secondary markets such as Hamilton is seeing a slight uptick in activity, with high-end buyers seeking more square footage and larger properties outside of city centres. Hamilton has experienced an increase in buyer interest from residents from Brampton and Mississauga looking to relocate to the region.


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Downtown Toronto

Toronto still one of the fastest growing cities in North America – even with the impact of COVID-19

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Toronto still one of the fastest growing cities in North America – even with the impact of COVID-19

Toronto was the fastest growing metropolitan area in Canada and the U.S. last year, overtaking Dallas-Fort Worth Arlington, Tex., according to new data from the Centre for Urban Research and Land Development (CUR) at Ryerson University.

Downtown Toronto
Photo: Wayne Karl

And even though Toronto will take a hit as a result of COVID-19, it is still expected to be one of the top cities in North America.

Toronto was the only Canadian metropolitan area in the top five; Montreal was sixth and Vancouver twelfth.

Metro Toronto grew by 127,575 persons in 2019, outpacing Dallas-Fort Worth Arlington, which grew by 117,380 persons, to become the fastest growing metropolitan area in all of the U.S. and Canada.

Short-term impact

The research for this latest report was conducted prior to COVID, covering the period of July 2018 to July 2019, so the results are likely to change over the next year, CUR says.

“COVID is estimated to drop immigration (to Toronto) by half this year,” Diana Petramala, senior CUR researcher told Condo Life. “Therefore, this will likely push Toronto down the list of fastest growing cities.

“Toronto’s main strength is immigration, whereas places like Dallas are benefiting from millennials leaving more expensive areas like New York. Toronto, however, will continue to do better than New York, Chicago and Los Angeles – areas that are seeing large outflows of millennials in search of more affordable housing and jobs.”

The impact of COVID in Toronto will be short term, Petramala adds. “Immigration is still allowed, so as other countries move out of lockdown and processing offices open up and airlines start flying again, you will like see a snap back in immigration.”

Outpacing New York

Toronto, in fact, had almost three times the population growth from immigration as New York in 2019. Both regions experienced a loss in resident population to other areas (domestic net migration), but the rate was four times faster in New York.

In terms of population growth on a city basis, as opposed to the metropolitan area (GTA), Toronto (45,742 persons) and Montreal (31,565) represented the two fastest growing cities in all of the U.S. and Canada over the study period. Overall, Canadian cities represented 11 of the top 20 central cities in the U.S. and Canada in population growth, with Calgary, Ottawa and Edmonton placing fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively.

While the city of Toronto’s population grew by 45,742, New York City’s decreased by 53,264.


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Toronto and Canada to lead global markets in post-COVID-19 real estate recovery: ReMax

Toronto and Canada to lead global markets in post-COVID-19 real estate recovery – ReMax

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Toronto and Canada to lead global markets in post-COVID-19 real estate recovery – ReMax

Canada’s – and Toronto’s – real estate markets will be among the strongest in the world in a post-COVID-19 recovery, according to a new report from ReMax Canada.

A Leger survey conducted on behalf of ReMax indicates that 56 per cent of Canadians who are planning to engage in the real estate market expect to do so in less than a year, showing an eagerness to get back to buying and selling.

Almost half (44 per cent) of Canadians believe the real estate market will bounce back to the strength it was before COVID-19 by 2021. Moreover, 29 per cent believe that before the end of 2020, the market in Canada will return to its pre-pandemic strength.

“While the Canadian market has seen a steep year-over-year decline in the volume of transactions during the peak of COVID-19 this spring, transactions have been happening and prices in particular have been resilient in much of Canada,” Christopher Alexander, executive vice-president and regional director, ReMax of Ontario-Atlantic Canada, told Condo Life.

Christopher Alexander
Christopher Alexander

Alexander points to data from the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), showing that national home sales in May were up 59.6 per cent from April. “Now that economies are beginning to reopen across the country, and in light of some of the recent activity we’ve seen in various cities across Canada, we anticipate that demand could begin to improve much faster than we initially anticipated at the beginning of COVID-19.”

In Toronto, Canada’s largest market, housing demand is already showing signs of rebounding. “The city has experienced an uptick in activity and a number of multiple-offer scenarios, pointing to a post-lockdown housing market outlook that is not nearly as dire as some suggested. Actual May 2020 sales increased by 55.2 per cent compared to April 2020.”

“Canada’s housing market was strong before COVID-19 hit, and despite the tragic impacts of the pandemic, we are optimistic that housing market could be restored much sooner than initially expected,” says Elton Ash, regional executive vice-president, ReMax of Western Canada. “As we saw in our 2020 Liveability Report, Canadian communities are resilient and people love their neighbourhoods, showing a collective commitment to bounce back.”

Pre-existing pent-up demand for homes in hot markets such as Vancouver, Toronto and Ottawa may help mitigate the decline in buyers who are suffering pandemic-related job losses, ReMax says. Exceptionally low inventory in much of Canada may also contribute to upward price pressure as restrictions ease and demand increases further.

In line with economists’ predictions, ReMax Canada estimates relative price stability by the end of 2020, with a possible price correction in the single digits. Exceptions include regions such as Alberta and Newfoundland, which are still struggling to rebound from a host of shocks, the dive in resource revenues, and the potential for a second wave of COVID-19.

Real estate technology

The pandemic has pushed the global real estate industry to embrace a variety of technology tools that were previously available but not always adopted to facilitate a transaction. Now, professionals are integrating 3D home tours and virtual open houses into their listing and selling practices. Given that almost half of Canadians (46 per cent) say that in a post- COVID-19 landscape, they’d prefer to work with real estate agents who use technology and virtual services in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines, agents will need to adapt in order to secure and build their businesses.

This sentiment is shared across both the U.S. and Europe, which have witnessed a shift in consumer wants toward a more digitalized homebuying and selling experience, such as e-signatures, virtual meetings and digital paperwork. ReMax notes that in some instances, buyers are still requesting in-person home tours before completing a transaction.


Canadians loving their neighbourhoods in COVID-19

Why Canadians should think long term in real estate – especially now

Outlook 2020 – 5 things you need to know about real estate this year





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Old meets new, older West Vancouver home gets a modern update

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Old meets new, older West Vancouver home gets a modern update

Photography by Colin Perry

When a young professional couple called upon designer Negar Reihani, principal of Vancouver-based design firm Space Harmony, to update their home, they had a tall order: They wanted a more functional space for their growing family, a home that was both welcoming and comfortable yet also made a visual statement with design choices that honoured their 30-year-old home.

Reihani was up to the task. She combined farmhouse character and west coast casual in a gorgeous, open-plan living area that’s perfect for the modern family.

Lifestyle needs

The couple moved from Port Moody and purchased the West Vancouver home to raise their young family. With both parents working full time and travelling extensively, they needed a designer who could understand their needs and create a family home that not only stayed true to its character, but was better suited to their busy lifestyle.

The pros

“The house had a great size and flow, beautiful high ceilings and an abundance of natural light. We altered the space planning a little to meet the needs of today’s busy family life and reinvented the interiors with a modern farmhouse style that would work perfectly with the existing features of the house,” says Reihani. “The goal was to create a home that could accommodate the needs of the growing family but that would also be unique enough to be desirable on the real estate market, if the need arose.”

Spacious & stunning 360 views

Nestled in the picturesque West Vancouver neighbourhood of Caulfeild, the sprawling 5,000-square-foot semi-rancher boasts stunning views of the mountains and lush pine trees on one side and the ocean on the other, while being just a five-to 10-minute drive to Caulfeild village. Although not a full two-storey, the home has five bedrooms and four and a half bathrooms, and benefits from most of the rooms being on the main floor, including the master bedroom and the office, while the other three bedrooms are located upstairs.

Design language

“My job is to choose elements the homeowners like and incorporate them into the space seamlessly, so that their tastes are reflected and blended perfectly within the design scheme. The influence of a modern farmhouse was in their pictures. For example, they liked black accents, light-wood floors and shiplap boards on the ceiling,” says Reihani.

Breaking down barriers

“The first challenge was to transform the small and dated kitchen into an elegant and functional space that meets the needs of a busy family who do lots of cooking, baking and entertaining,” says Reihani.

To create more space, the wall separating the kitchen from the rest of the house was partially opened and the dining area was moved from inside the kitchen to its new location beside it. This allowed Reihani to extend the kitchen and move the cooking station closer to the windows, where messes could be kept hidden and unwanted smells could be swiftly exhausted through the double windows and the large range hood.

Storage optimization

The couple asked for as much storage as possible since their previous kitchen was small, so a variety of storage options were provided throughout the kitchen to accommodate different needs and to provide a visual balance. For example, small appliances are cleverly housed inside a cabinet with pull-out shelves so they can be used in situ. To provide a sleek, seamless look to the kitchen, the refrigerator was panelled to match the cabinet while the pantries on either side feature decorative glass panels, adding sparkle and lightness to the space.

Go big

An extra-large island in the kitchen overlooks the dining room and provides an ideal prep area, while leaving plenty of space for daily comings and goings. The Calacatta Vagli marble island features soft cream, grey and gold veining that adds an understated elegance to the space. Measuring 11 feet complete with drawers, the natural- stone island is specially sealed to protect it, making it the perfect area for food-prepping and entertaining.

Facing the family room from the kitchen, there’s another storage cabinet with a white quartz countertop and black Kohler faucet. This smart-looking setup offers a natural, informal hub for chatting or watching TV while working in the kitchen. A white subway tile backsplash (from Creekside Tile) keeps the space fresh and fun, imparting a casual, timeless quality.

Elevated farmhouse

With the new open layout, double-high ceilings and abundance of natural light, Reihani wanted to add something special and different when it came to creating the elegant kitchen finish. In keeping with the modern farmhouse style, she chose a black finish for the kitchen, which creates a bold, unexpected statement. Black Magic paint on the cabinets anchors the space, while brushed gold accents, such as the island pendant lights (from Restoration Hardware), add warmth and connect the light oak floors throughout.

“The black and gold combination has a traditional vibe, yet the gold accents add an element of luxury,” says Reihani. “I think black and gold is a beautiful and timeless combination. To me it has an old-world feel.”

While the accents reference the past, the black-and-white contrast cements this stylish kitchen entirely in the present, with features and functionality that make it perfect for family living today.

“Everything really turned the space into a nice, well-functioning kitchen,” says Reihani. “Renovation is a daunting task so it’s important to have the right team by your side who knows their craft; the success of this project is the result of close communication with the clients and their full trust and commitment to the design.”

Catalina Margulis is a writer for The Globe and Mail, Flare and Elle Canada, among others, she has covered everything from fashion, beauty and travel to health, food, decor, business and parenting. When she’s not working on her latest assignment, she’s chasing after her four young children and writing her first novel.


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The housing outlook for 2019

GTA among the most promising new home outlooks for 2019, Altus Group says

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GTA among the most promising new home outlooks for 2019, Altus Group says

The new home sector in Canada had a challenging year in 2018, but markets in the Greater Golden Horseshoe, including the GTA, have among the most promising outlooks for 2019, according to Altus Group.

Increased regulations, higher interest rates, new taxes and higher Development Charges are testing the industry,  Altus Group says in its New Home Outlook for 2019.

Altus Group is a leading provider of software, data solutions and independent advisory services to the global commercial real estate industry, and tracks new home development and sales activity across the country.

At the start of 2018, the supply of available new homes in both the Vancouver and Toronto markets was constrained, particularly in the condominium apartment sector. The lack of available product contributed to the rapid rise in pricing in 2017 and impacted sales volumes at the start of 2018.

In Alberta, the new home sector, along with the rest of the housing market, continued to be impacted by low energy prices and weaker economic activity. The opposite was the case in Montreal, where a sharp increase in demand for new homes led to peak sales levels.

The outlook at the end of 2017 was that the market would continue to see reasonably strong demand in 2018, but sales would be impacted by the new mortgage regulations and other new policies, taxes, and regulations – the degree to which was unknown.

Looking at 2018’s market performance year-to-date, Altus can see that demand was impacted in the major markets, most significantly in the single-family and higher-end townhouse segments. New condominium apartment sales have also moderated in Vancouver and Toronto where the incredibly strong demand seen in 2017 has softened in the current year. Some of the moderation is normalization from the frenzied market pace noted in recent years.


Greater Toronto Area

The GTA market came off a record new condominium apartment sales year in 2017. However, the impacts of mortgage rule changes and new development charges contributed to a decline in project launches and lower sales to start the year. Sales and project launch activity have increased in the back half of the year, but year-to-date sales remain down by almost 50 per cent compared to 2017.

While sales have been lower, pricing for new condominium apartment product in the downtown area has remained fairly stable with overall average prices trending towards $800,000.

New single-family sales continued to decline in 2018. Although availability of product to purchase has increased, it remains beyond the reach of most buyers.

Hamilton and Kitchener-Waterloo

Markets outside of the GTA have continued to benefit from their relative affordability compared to Toronto, particularly in Kitchener-Waterloo, where the new supply of condominium apartment product experienced strong demand in 2018. Both markets benefit from markedly better pricing compared to the GTA, where lower average prices for both new condominium apartment and single-family housing makes it a much more buyer-friendly market.

Promised improvements to transit, which will take several years to implement, will enhance commuting options throughout the Greater Golden Horseshoe, thus providing greater opportunities to live in markets outside of the GTA.


Montreal saw a strong increase in new home sales over the past three years and continues to experience robust demand for new condominium apartment homes. Given the growth in sales, many of the challenges seen in the other large markets have started to impact Montreal – rising costs, elevated inventories of under construction product and increased investment activity. Despite the challenges, year-to-date sales activity remains strong and is trending slightly higher than last year.


The Edmonton market has been facing challenges from elevated inventory levels, a large stock of completed and unsold new homes and the impact that weak energy prices is having on housing demand. Consumers’ mortgage qualification has become a more significant challenge for new home projects, resulting in a year-over-year decline in sales levels by almost 50 per cent for both townhouse and condominium apartment product. The slow pace of sales has also meant that several projects have shifted to purpose-built rental.

While the market has been slow, there are some bright spots with development in the Ice District experiencing reasonably strong demand, along with well-priced townhouse developments in the suburban markets.


The Calgary market is performing stronger in 2018, with increased sales of both new condominium apartment and townhouse product on a year-over-year basis. This growth has been exclusively in the suburban markets where new condominium apartment and townhouse sales have exceeded 2017 numbers.

While sales in the suburbs are tracking higher, the inner city and downtown markets are seeing weaker demand and lower sales volumes with higher office vacancy and lower downtown employment impacting housing demand near the core. Conversely, the strongest new home sales in the suburbs have been occurring in regions near employment centres.


Leading into 2018, the Vancouver market was the tightest of the markets examined, in terms of available new homes with only 1.8 months of inventory. This year, new project launches, particularly along transit lines and in the Fraser Valley, have added much needed inventory and boosted the supply to 3.3 months of inventory – although this remains the lowest in the country.

The frenzied pace in the market has softened with the sales rate at launch moderating, while price growth has stopped and even pulled back in certain segments of the market. A key challenge that has become more apparent as of late has been the price sensitivity of consumers, with higher-priced projects, or those priced above the competition, experiencing below average sales rates.

2019 Outlook

The outlook for housing demand in 2019 remains positive across the country with elevated immigration levels, continued demand from first-time homebuyers and tight rental vacancies and elevated rents encouraging homeownership. The key pressures that Altus Group sees continuing to impact the new home market in 2019 are higher interest rates and housing affordability constraints, rising construction costs and development charges impacting developers, and weaker economic growth potential in certain regions constraining demand.

Across the major markets in Canada, Altus Group believes the markets in the Greater Golden Horseshoe, including the GTA, have the most upside potential for an increase in sales activity in 2019 given the depth of the decline in 2018 and building off of the sales recovery noted in the back half of 2018.

Calgary and Edmonton will continue to be impacted by the weaker economy, but are not forecast to experience a material decline in overall sales volumes given the current levels of activity in each market.

The two markets that may see a decline in sales activity in 2019 are Montreal and Vancouver – but for very different reasons. Montreal had a strong sales year in 2018 and 2019 volumes are expected to decline as the market returns to more normal conditions. The Vancouver market, which is currently exhibiting the most potential for downside risk, is expected to see a modest decline in sales volumes as consumers react to higher borrowing costs and developers react to escalating construction costs in the face of lower revenue opportunities. With that said, the sales volumes in 2019 are still anticipated to be at or close to the 10-year sales average for the market.



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Penthouse Living : The most expensive condo in Canada

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Penthouse Living : The most expensive condo in Canada

1011 Cordova Street, PH02
$38 million
MLS Number: R2229814
Maintenance Fees: $4,762.79

The Fairmont Pacific Rim Penthouse 2 in Vancouver’s Coal Harbour area is a world class luxury residence sitting atop the five-star Fairmount Pacific Rim Hotel along Vancouver’s coveted Golden Mile just steps to the city’s vibrant business district, most exclusive shopping and finest restaurants.

This brilliantly designed two-level residence encompasses approximately 6,652 square feet of expansive living with over 2,900 additional square feet of outdoor terraces overlooking one of the most prized city, mountain and water views in Vancouver. This four-bedroom, five-bathroom residence has been redesigned by one of Canada’s most renowned architectural and interior design companies providing a luxury lifestyle like nothing else in the city.

All showings by appointment only for qualified purchasers.


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Baby Boomers Staying Put

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Baby Boomers Staying Put

One chicken-and-egg factor that’s contributing to the continual rise in housing costs in Vancouver, Toronto, and other neighbouring urban centres is that parents of 20- and 30-somethings aren’t downsizing when their kids move out. Why? Because their kids aren’t moving out – or are moving back in after giving up on trying to buy their own homes. Faced with their kids having to move to far-flung suburbs or beyond, parents are staying put instead of putting their houses back on the market. The upside for readers is that as realtor’s fees, land transfer taxes, and other costs continue to skyrocket, homeowners are more likely to improve than move.



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Theatre Under the Stars opens

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Theatre Under the Stars opens


Get your culture at Vancouver’s annual Theatre Under the Stars, with live outdoor plays in Stanley Park. This event runs through August 19 and, this year, features performances of Mary Poppins and The Drowsy Chaperone.


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Cover Story – Home Away From Home

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Cover Story – Home Away From Home

Photography By Colin Perry

A Vancouver pied-à-terre is a beautiful fusion of sleek modern and rustic, organic styles.

How do you decorate when you are equally drawn to two styles that are polar opposites? For the owner of this Vancouver condo, the answer was calling designer Negar Reihani, who runs the small boutique firm Space Harmony. The goal was to make the Yaletown unit a warm and welcoming home away from home for the owner, an American actor who films often in Vancouver. He loves rustic, natural materials, but equally admires super-slick contemporary styles.

YIN AND YANG – Play up differences. Chunky wool ottomans and a textural rug play off of the shiny, mirrored end table and sleek marble coffee table.


Reihani says she first showed the owner various images to gauge his personal style before embarking on the project. “He was very much leaning toward the two sides of the spectrum like the swing of a pendulum, which was fun,” she says. Reihani decided to simply embrace both styles. “I mixed rustic and contemporary through furniture pieces and finishes, like the white marble coffee table on top of the jute rug,” she says. “It’s mixing worlds so that you can connect with both.” The more traditional pedestal dining table is made of sundried wood, but is paired with mod Eames chairs. It’s an unusual mix, but the contrast works, feeling cool and edgy, but also homey and comfortable.

ROOM WITH A VIEW Go for one big sofa. A large, low sectional and a pair of ottomans provide lots of seating options without impeding views.


The 600-square-foot unit was a bit of a blank slate in a cookiecutter Vancouver condo building. With a small balcony in front of the large window and another building right across, it doesn’t get a lot of natural light. Brightening the old black kitchen cabinets was the first thing on the agenda. “Before, it was rather depressing,“ says Reihani. “The black kitchen sucked so much light and energy from the space.” When you walk in to the condo, the kitchen is the first thing you see. By refacing the dark cabinets in a slick white, and adding in some glass cabinets, the space is transformed, setting the tone for the rest of the open-concept condo.

HIDDEN ASSETS Turn standard features into stars. Here, a door leading to a small storage room is made into an architectural feature with a sliding barn door.

“The goal was to make the
Yaletown unit a warm and
welcoming home away
from home for the owner,
an American actor who films
often in Vancouver.”


SET THE TONE A cohesive palette of tone-on-tone greys and warm white creates the illusion of more space in this 600-square-foot unit.

The square footage, or lack of it, presented some challenges, but Reihani’s layout and clever use of furniture creates an effortless flow. Nothing feels cramped or forced. “Make sure you don’t fall into the trap of using small furniture in a small space,” she says. “Instead of going for one big sectional, people tend to go for a loveseat and two chairs, which chops up the space with visual clutter making it look even smaller.” Instead, she opted for one large sectional in the living area paired with two textural ottomans, which function as occasional seating. She didn’t skimp on the coffee table either, using a large, glamorous marbleand- chrome piece that bounces light around the space. There is a continuous push and pull of texture and shape that keeps the space interesting— boxy and organic, sleek and textural.

SMART MOVES Instead of starting from scratch, designer Negar Reihani refaced the condo’s existing cabinetry, adding in some bits of glass for glamour.


This mix works well for the once non-descript condo, creating a pied-à-terre that perfectly suits the owner for long stints throughout the year. Reihani was inspired by his world travels to cover one entire wall in the bedroom with an oversized map in lieu of traditional wallpaper. It’s the main focal point in the master (and only) bedroom, which is so small that standard bedside tables wouldn’t fit next to a queen-sized bed. As a crafty alternative, two custom wall-mounted tables, painted the same colour as the bed for continuity, keep contrast to a minimum, thus visually enlarging the room. “It’s all tone on tone, warm greys,” says Reihani.

And though a fusion of two styles is not a brand new concept, here, it is done so subtly, that you barely realize what’s going on. It’s just warm, welcoming and comfortable. “I like when I get to work with clients with a strange wish list or likes that are outside of the box,” she says. “It makes your imagination fly higher and makes you think about things you wouldn’t necessarily do.”


Small condo bedrooms can be challenging to furnish. Floating bedside tables and wall-sized artwork take things up a notch.



Catherine Sweeney is a Toronto-based writer and editor who loves design, architecture, poetry and animals. She has worked for numerous publications including House & Home, Designlines and Azure.


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