Real Living – “A Little Piece of Heaven”

Retiring to a comfortable dwelling is a luxury almost all of us want to enjoy when we quit the work force and enter our twilight years. For this 88-year old Vancouver resident, her retirement consists of treating herself to a professionally designed space and start afresh.

Aside from the owner’s wish to start from a clean slate, moving into a 50-sqft. one-bedroom unit from a 960 sqft. two-bedroom unit was something to contend with. Interior designer George Verdolaga, design principal of Flowform Design Group, Ltd. knew just what to do. “She had previously lived in homes that were close to 2,400 sqft. in size and she wanted to downsize this time to a more manageable space, as she was getting on in years and lived all by herself,” says George. Her 40 years of living in Canada, George adds, made her accumulate a lot of furniture that she no longer wanted to use in her new apartment. The unit’s small space would also not be enough to accommodate all her stuff.

But in spite of this, this old lady’s wish of having brand new furniture and a contemporary interior came true, thanks to these simple rules in designing a small space:

MEASURE, MEASURE, MEASURE – Having a limited space requires that measurement always be accurate. Measurements had to be made at least 3 or 4 times, as doorway openings and elevators were not always big enough to accommodate larger-sized furniture. “In a small space, you cannot afford to get the furniture sizes wrong, as over-scale pieces will easily consume space and overwhelm the other smaller pieces next to it,” adds George.

WORK AROUND AN AREA’S EXISTING FEATURES – George says this Vancouver apartment already had a pre-selected carpet and laminate floors. “It’s always preferable to start completely from scratch, but this isn’t always possible, such as in this condo. So we basically had to make sure that our colors and materials coordinated with the mottled green carpet and brown laminate flooring that the builder had already installed beforehand,” he explains.

CREATE THE ILLUSION OF SPACE WITH STORAGE AND MIRRORS – “Mirrors are excellent for making a space look bigger than it is” says George, which is why we installed a 7-foot mirror in the kitchen and dining area to create an illusion of space. They also purchased free-standing shelves and drawer units to store the owner’s sentimental items that had accumulated over the years. These storage solutions would certainly keep clutter at bay.

EVEN ON A LIMITED BUDGET, YOU CAN STILL HAVE A FABULOUS SPACE – Since the owner did not want to spend a ton of money, yet wanted to furnish her home with brand-new pieces, George just had the right source in mind: IKEA. “We chose less expensive Scandinavian furniture pieces exclusively from IKEA that add a very modern feel to her space,” he says.

The dining chairs, however, were brought from Bo Concept and the Brian Gluckstein bed spread, duvet cover and pillow covers were from The Bay. “While we didn’t have the luxury of choosing custom upholstery fabrics, we did have room to play around with the beddings, cushions and other accessories. This is where we added a lot of color and pattern,” he says.

A perfect retirement home doesn’t always have to be a sprawling estate in the countryside. A simple apartment can be just as ideal with the right designs, furnishings and tweaking to suit the owners neds and wishes. In this Filipina-Candian’s Vancouver apartment, 50 sft is just right for her retirement haven.


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