Stylish Small Spaces

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via Flickr, by Tom Meacham

Currently, the city is experiencing a boom in the development of apartments and condominiums—and they’re building them smaller and smaller. The challenge with these kinds of accommodations becomes living in style while avoiding clutter. Sometimes, the clutter—in the form of clothing, furniture, fixtures and other trappings of civilized culture—wins out. That’s when you call in the experts.

I recently spoke with interior decorator Jim Fairweather about his redesign of a Liberty Village condominium that, to put it bluntly, was a hoarder’s dream before he stepped in.

“Keep it simple, keep it clean, keep it uncluttered,” he says of his guiding principles. “I find that people have a tendency to over-furnish, they tend to over-accessorize, they tend to fill the walls with artwork and they just do way too much.”

The condo is a mere 300 square feet, but the bedroom was being used as a walk-in closet with the homeowner, a young woman, sleeping on a futon in the living room. The interior decorator counted over 60 pairs of shoes, 12 pairs of winter boots, and numerous belts, accessories and clothes that made for a great collection but meant little space for the tenant herself. “It was just insanity,” Fairweather says.

His design philosophy revolves around near-Spartan sparseness and simplicity, with care to create a welcoming and peaceful environment for the homeowner and their guests. This means cutting down on clutter, furnishing according to space limitations and choosing neutral colours that calm, rather than assail, the senses.

With this condo, Fairweather had the young woman weed out a third of her belongings—the most she could spare to get rid of—and went to work. Luckily, she had a furnace room with sliding doors, so he put up a few rods in there, one above the other, then hung up her seasonal clothing on racks from the rods. Next, he cleared out the two closets in the bedroom, and put in a shelf, two rods and shoe cubbies. He put a shelf above the bed and stored some items in the dining room buffet. In a pinch, Fairweather turned a messy space into a classy place, redecorating small living quarters to make room not just for someone’s stuff, but for the person herself. The client was so happy with the results—a bedroom she can sleep in and room for her favourite things—she called Fairweather a magician.

The trick, it seems, would be not just in redesigning your space, but in rethinking your priorities around ‘stuff’. With sizes diminishing and layouts getting ever more intricate and unusual, condos are turning into a potent niche for skilled interior designers and decorators. It’s creative work that takes keen problem-solving skills, and Jim Fairweather is one of the pros; he specializes in small spaces. Follow his work on his blog or check out his company website.

Word Count: 477;

June 4, 2012:

editor writer


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