Turning a cookie-cutter condo into a modern home

We recently interviewed Derrick Lai, principal of PROP Architect. Derrick believes that living in compact condo spaces doesn't mean you have to compromise on style. He gave us a tour of his Toronto Queen West condo which features clever design solutions that addresses some of the most common challenges condo owners face.

Adding style and modifying your cookie cutter condo into a unique space.

Derrick purchased his two bedroom two bathroom condo from Tridel a few years ago. When he signed the purchase agreement with the Builder, he negotiated a clause in the offer to omit some finishes so he can customize some details after he moves in. He wanted to personalize part of the condo as a live-work space for everyday uses. As an architect, he is always looking for efficiencies to make the space more functional. Storage is often a challenge with compact condo spaces.

Prevent over designing. Stick to your budget.

The advantage of buying pre-construction gave Derrick plenty of time to lay out the space to the way he wanted. He also had to be careful about not spending to much keeping in mind of resale value in the future. The first step to prevent over designing is to have a budget in mind. Scope creep can drive up the cost. The next thing you know, you might have spent more than what you can capture when you sell your condo. When you meet with your designer, the list should include everything you want. When the project cost estimate comes back, you can bring down the budget from there. Bringing down the budget can mean substituting the types of finishes or buying furniture instead of designing custom built units.

Put your wish list and design budget together.

The level of customization often depends on how the original condo space is laid out. Open concept dining and kitchen allows for custom built island with dining table. The kitchen is usually the more expensive part of the space when it comes to renovating. For avid cooks, work space planning will be a priority.

Addressing the design problems of typical condo kitchens.

There are 3 types of kitchen layouts we most commonly see: the U-shaped, the island, and the galley kitchen. For example, the U-shaped kitchens have corners that make it a problem for storage. Special hardware can be integrated to maximize space efficiency in those areas.

How to turn a bedroom into a live-work space.

In the video, Derrick turned one of his bedrooms into a multi-purpose space. The room serves as an office by day and a guest bedroom with a built-in murphy bed at other times.

How to make the dining and living space look bigger.

If your condo has a long living or dining wall, a feature wall can often make the space feel larger. Derrick added wood panelling along the dining wall as a feature to delineate the space.

How to add and choose lighting for a space.

With open concept designs in modern living spaces, eating, cooking and entertaining often occurs all in one space. Lighting design includes customizing the type of light fixtures that offer various level of lighting, aesthetics, function and flexibility.

Let the light in.

If your condo is a corner unit, you can consider cutting out an opening on the bedroom wall with a glass lite to let in natural light from the bedroom into the living space.

If you would like help to design and customize your new condo or looking for design services, you can contact PROP Architect. We are currently offering a 1-hour free design consultation with PROP Architect valued at $500 for our clients under contract. Contact us for more details. email: anne@annelok.com or text 416-799-9632

Other reading:

9 ways to add personality to your cookie-cutter condo

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Anne Lok is a Toronto realtor who specializes in selling modern and design-focused properties. Contact Anne to find out how she can market your condo for sale. Visit urburbia.ca for more information on her real estate services.

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287 Davenport Road Unit 1 | Toronto ON M5R 1J9

416-799-9632 | 416-504-6133 



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