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Home Sweet Home: Condo Living

By Renu Singh-Joseph, 19 Jul, 2017
  • Home Sweet Home: Condo Living

Homeowners are opting for condos, not only for the affordable pricing but for the condo lifestyle that offers an array of conveniences. Learn a few design and décor tips to fully maximize a smaller living space. 

 
 
Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or empty nesters looking to downsize, condo living has become a popular option over the last few decades. Homeowners are opting for condos, not only for the affordable pricing but for the condo lifestyle that offers diverse amenities; cost sharing between residents; building and lawn maintenance; close proximity to transit; and desirable locations – usually within a sought-after neighbourhood.  
 
“It’s all about location! Couples and families, who are choosing to live in the city with close proximity to work, amenities and entertainment, are choosing lifestyle over a house, a yard and a long commute,” says Ana Domingos, licensed real estate professional with TRG – The Residential Group Realty. She further adds, “Active baby boomers tend to also enjoy accessibility to the amenities of the city and prefer to live close to the centre instead of commuting for long distances.”
 
 
 
When looking to buy a condo, there are several important factors to consider, says realtor Amrit Sidhu of Sutton Group Seafair Realty. “Firstly, you’ll want to find out how well the building and its units are managed. Secondly, ask your realtor to obtain strata documentation, which includes minutes, bylaws, form B, depreciation reports, engineer reports, and strata plans. Be sure to have your agent read through all the minutes of any strata meetings from the past two years to identify issues or repairs. I also highly advise buyers to review all this information as well.” 
 
Sidhu states that some other things to consider are whether there are any rental or age restrictions in the building. “Naturally a building with higher level of tenants compared to owners may have more ‘wear and tear’.” He also recommends that your realtor look into any upcoming changes in the neighbourhood. “Will your condo with a view 
still have that view in next five years? Will there be any upcoming developments in the area? Always look into the OCP (official community plan) and NCP (neighbourhood concept plan) for the area, which can easily be obtained from your local municipality,” advises Sidhu.
 
 
 

Design concepts and décor ideas

 
 
For those who lived in a single-family home, it can take some time to get used to the smaller square-footage and more compact nature of condo living. According to interior designer Kelly Arthur, you need to “fully maximize the space by incorporating multi-functional furnishings and integrated storage solutions.”
 
“In the bedroom, a storage bed is an essential item along with a built-in, organized closet space. Use multi-functional furniture pieces in your living areas, such as an ottoman with storage or side tables that could double as extra seating,” says Arthur, who is the proprietor of Kelly Arthur Interior Design and senior designer at Paradigm Kitchen Design.  
 
Think about the minimalist concept – it’s about stripping everything down to its essential quality to achieve simplicity. When applied to condo living, it’s about streamlining your space and “keeping your home organized and clutter free,” says Arthur.    
 
 
 
 
 
So where do you start? 
 
As you begin to customize your condo, there are a few integral décor ideas to keep in mind. Arthur provides five ideas that homeowners can implement in their smaller living spaces:
 
 

Place mirrors 

 
Strategically place mirrors to visually expand the feel of the home.
 
 

Paint the walls a shade of white 

 
It will give the space a brighter, lighter look. In addition, furniture and home décor items will shine and stand out.
 
 
 
 

Declutter

 
Keep things uncluttered and only select pieces you absolutely love – the less you have out on display, the bigger your space will feel.
 
 

Furniture

 
Use a few larger scale furniture pieces rather than a cluster of smaller ones.
 
 

Use the vertical space 

 
Whether it is a couple of floating shelves installed on a wall or a built-in tailored to a specific need, the walls are there to use and fully utilize.
 
 
 
Adding to Arthur’s tips and concepts, Domingos says to consider smaller furniture options – don’t look to purchase house-sized furniture for your condo or apartment, as the pieces will “take up too much room and make the space look smaller.” Think about adding a Murphy/wall bed to a bedroom, 
as this can add a multi-purpose layer to a room – an office or playroom during the day and then a bedroom at night, she adds.
 
As homeowners, we often look to the latest trends for our home and the summer season is no exception as thoughts turn to spicing up our spaces, be it for ourselves, entertaining or a décor facelift. According to Arthur, a few hot trends for your home this summer are “marble and burnished brass/bronze combinations; adding colourful cushions to your bedroom and living room that will add texture and punch; and accenting in ‘Pantone’s Colour of the Year – Greenery’ or any shade of green.” As per Pantone, greenery is a “fresh and zesty yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring when nature’s greens revive, restore and renews.” 
 
 
 

Advice for home buyers

 
With the current real estate market in the Lower Mainland, many individuals looking to buy may feel discouraged. Sidhu offers advice saying “be patient – the real estate market in the Lower Mainland can be stressful and daunting for new home buyers, therefore it’s imperative that you 
are able to have an open discussion with your realtor regarding your needs versus your wants when it comes to purchasing a home.” 
 
He goes on to say, “Simply put, create a checklist of your ‘must haves’ versus ‘wants’. You may find a property that meets all your expectations, however if you are like most of us and finding it difficult, then continue to reassess your situation and keep looking.” 
 
Good luck and happy hunting!

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