Metro Home & Entertaining – “Downsizing in Style”

This 950 sqft. two-bedroom condo is located in Collingwood and owned by Annie G, who works in the corporate services department of the City of Vancouver and her husband Benny R, a sernior analyst at HSBC.

Annie is also a writer and an avid reader. She is currently studying part-time at Regent College to obtain a master’s degree in Theology. Benny is into photography and likes to collect art. Together, they are active in their church and like to try new things and explore new places in their spare time.

I first met Annie several years ago when we were both volunteering for the Multicultural Helping House Society, a non-profit society that helps immigrants get settled into their new life in Canada. She contacted me again prior to selling their two-storey single-detached house. We received another call from her a few months later, after she and Benny had decided to downsize and buy a smaller condo since they have no kids.

The couple wanted to create a beautiful space to relax and entertain family and riends. They wanted their home to reflect the warmth and humor of their native Filipino culture. They needed to fit their flat-screen TV, a proper dining area, a shoe closet and foyer within a tight rectangular space and a narrow entrance hallways.

By the time they called our design firm, Annie and Benny had already begun buying a few pieces of furniture on their own. It wasn’t long before they felt overwhelmed and realized that they needed the services of a professional to help them meet all their requirements and make the space look good.

As with most do-it-yourself (DIY) decorators, Annie and Bennie weren’t conscious about things like scale and proportion. Furthermore they didn’t know right suppliers needed to achieve the minimalist/Asian theme that they were going for.

First thing we bought was an almost full-scale dining set, which we placed directly adjacent to the living room, which in turn doubled as their media room. To get more usage out of their furniture, certain pieces were selected that could do double duty as extra seating for impromptu guests.

As their bar counter did not actually have the proper depth to put stools underneath, we positioned the living room furniture directly in front and moved the TV to the opposite wall. This enabled the couple to watch their favorite shows from the sofa or the kitchen. Most people put the TV in front of the pre-wired cable outlet, not realizing that a call to an electrician enables them to reposition the TV or sound system anywhere in the house.

As with most people, the couple thought of buying a sofabed. We suggested that they get a regular queen-size bed instead, which is a more comfortable and practical solution provided that the accompanying pieces – such as a table, chest of drawers and pair of night stands – are properly scaled to fit.

We introduced materials and natural fibers from their home country, the Philippines, such as water hyacinth for the loveseat, abaca for the sofa cushions, raw silk for accent pillows, bamboo for various decorative pieces, rice paper for the dining table light fixture and wicker for the candy dish decor. To showcase communal-style dining, which is still actively practiced in some parts of the Philippines, we brought in a pair of long benches instead of individual chairs for the dining table.

Annie and Bennie also had a growing Filipino art collection, out of which I selected a pair of paintings and straw hats to display in the living room and hallway.

Condo living needn’t be a cramped and dreary affair. With the help of a good designer, it becomes easier to plan, locate and purchase what you need to create a beautiful and functional space, whatever the size.



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