With limited viable housing on the market in Toronto, particularly new builds, condo living just makes sense. Condos provide Torontonians with numerous amenities, and better priced access to walkable neighbourhoods. Whether you’re about to purchase your first home or are downsizing to a condo to help streamline your life, you likely understand the ‘one size fits all’ appeal.
One of the major factors impacting people in the condo market is livable space. According to a 2014 report from RealNet Canada, the average Toronto condo is around 800 square feet. This means people may find they have less storage space or room for entertaining compared to what they’re used to. All the same, this isn’t deterring people from jumping into condo ownership. In addition to the benefits of investing in a property, it’s also an opportunity to de-clutter and destress your life through the prevailing trend of minimalism.
Simplicity involves unburdening your life, and living more lightly with fewer distractions - Linda Breen Pierce Click To Tweet
This is one of many reasons why minimalism design can be so appealing to condo dwellers, even if they don’t know how or where to get started.
What is Minimalism and why is it so popular?
Minimalist Design is a classic design style, however like anything else, its mass popularity tends to fall in and out of fashion. It should be noted that no matter what’s "in", minimalist design works more often than not. Minimalist design uses only essential components to ensure function.
Oleg Mokhov for SpyreStudios believes the historical roots of minimalism are credited to three key regions and time periods: From 1917 through the 1930s care of the Dutch de stijl art movement (meaning "the style") with a focus on the simple use of black, white, primary colours as well as clean lines and rectangles, Post World War I architecture, with an emphasis on clean lines and open space, and traditional Japanese design with a core of simplicity.
But what about Scandinavian Design?
While Scandinavian design can be minimalist, minimalism and Scandinavian design aren’t as interchangeable as many of us believe. They both feature clutter-free living, however Scandinavian design is about the materials used in creating products, which are natural and organic materials, pale colours, and minimalist shapes, whereas minimalism often features items of stainless steel, chrome, or plastics. Scandinavian Design is meant to enhance sunlight within the wintery area and originated in Nordic regions during the 1950’s, and uses materials found in nature such as wood or hemp.
Why Minimalism works with Condos
While minimalism design seems like a simple concept, there is a particular art to creating a space that embraces the minimalist spirit, all while feeling warm and inviting and not becoming an exact replica of an IKEA showroom transplanted into your living room. This is where people like designer Aubrey Meinardi from Fullscale + Partners Inc. can help. Aubrey says:
By nature, condo layouts are usually designed for compact living. The goal of a successful minimalist condo design would be to minimize clutter utilizing furniture and decor pieces that are streamlined; as large ornate pieces might overwhelm a condo space.
Building with the Basics
One of the principles of minimalist design is 'less is more'; allowing your space to have some breathing room to balance out other elements within the space. By utilizing minimalist furniture and decor pieces, you are allowing your eyes to focus on the essential and in turn make the space look larger.
Certain key multi-functional pieces can help bring a minimalist look together by hiding clutter with their clever construction that keeps small space living front of mind. In speaking to trends Aubrey suggests taking advantage of hidden storage pieces, or items with dual functions:
Some of my favourites are sofa beds (instant guest room, for visiting family and friends), coffee table with swing up leaf to double as dining table, and store away laptop desks with top that can be swung up to hide the table when not in use.
Other items people may find useful include Murphy beds, storage ottomans, and benches help keep their views clutter-free and clean.
In looking for customization for key pieces Aubrey suggests selecting items that have touch latch doors or ones with streamlined hardware and adds: "If your condo unit comes with a standard condo kitchen, a budget friendly way of updating the cabinets is to swap the door handles to modern style handles."
Where to spend and where to save
Certain items are sure to become anchor pieces in your space—make sure that you really love them. People will want to invest in items for common spaces like dining rooms and living rooms, and high foot traffic areas. Aubrey explains:
A good dining set and sofa are big ticket items that you may want to splurge on. These pieces are the first thing you see when entering a condo unit and should be pieces that set the tone for the rest of the space.
An easy place to cut costs on your furniture budget is in the bedroom, where a serene space can be created with an authentic less is more approach. Aubrey says there is much more leeway on bedroom furniture since people can forgo bed frames entirely or opt for a basic frame which is low to the ground. Keeping things simple with limited clutter can reduce both mental and physical stress from your sleeping space.
Minimalist Shopping Cheat Sheet
Window shopping and online browsing for the right items can be key to finding the Cinderella story ‘glass slipper fit’ for your space. Aubrey suggests that those who want to get a feel for furniture up close and personal and really examine fabrics, textures and feel, look to brick and mortar stores for their big ticket purchases, at stores including Structube, CB2, and Wazo Furniture for budget friendly selection with modern and minimalist options. For online options, don’t underestimate the power of bargains, selection, and convenience from Wayfair who offer free shipping for any order over $75.
Embracing your own style
When melding two unique tastes and personalities into shared living quarters, remember bringing personality to a condo doesn’t need to be a point of contention. Aubrey suggests utilizing textiles like pillows, curtains, and table runners to warm up and add your own personal flare to your home while stocking the place with minimalist furniture to create a warm and inviting feel.
Art and personal photos are another way to truly make a space your own:
Adding picture frames in varying sizes and finishes on a picture ledge creates interest and height to your space without having to put lots of nails in the wall. Minimalist design utilizes the grid system, keeping your decor elements in a consistent line helps to guide the eye and aids readability.
In looking to put a complete look together don’t be afraid to move things around or lean on helpful online resources like Pinterest to help bring your vision to reality!