Elana Safronsky, Managing Editor
Tuesday, March 30, 2010 3:42 PM EDT
New place + busy + some money = hire a designer. At least that's my math. But before those of us missing the third variable in the equation go dismissing the following home tour, remember that we can learn from that which we cannot afford -- that's what Home Tour is all about!
Today's aspirational dwelling was design by Toronto-based Rosemary Carbonara of RO Design, for a couple of downsizing empty nesters. Coming from an ample family home, the urban condo conversion (the building was previously a school) in the heart of Toronto, demanded more design savvy than the couple's time and patience could offer. So they hired a designer.
Chatting with Rosemary about this project, I was intrigued by all the customizing she was able to pull off to give this apartment a truly unique feel. While I won't try convincing you that anyone can do what Rosemary does simply by reading this post, I do think learning how she did it is pretty enlightening for those who think condos offer little in the way of design flexibility.
- maximum storage (part and parcel with downsizing)
- aesthetically: a graceful balance between the Beaux-Arts ('20s) feel of the original building's exterior and a modern, airy interior
Get In at Stud Level
One of the things a designer can help you with is rejigging your floor plan. Developers can be very resistant to the idea so you gotta know how and when to push, but you're not as locked into that floor plan as you think:
- The master bath for example was not large enough for the clients, so Rosemary had the builders forgo the large walk-in closet for a bigger en suite. The loss of the walk-in closet was addressed with 14 linear feet of closet space, set along one entire wall of the bedroom.
- The library shelving niche was originally the bedroom niche just on the other side, which was reversed to create much needed storage for a home office nook. The space is not missed in the bedroom.
- The guest bedroom did not comfortably accommodate a double bed. To create more space, Rosemary had the standard sliding-door closet removed in lieu of custom built-ins surrounding the headboard. The resulting storage has the same capacity as the proposed standard closet. (More details in the gallery.)
- Rosemary negotiated with the builders to forgo the flooring options in order to go with her choice of floor, and requested some unorthodox cabinetry mixing for in the kitchen.
- Though the idea was minimalism, the clients wanted the warmth of rich wood worked into the design. Rosemary used the floor and kitchen cabinetry to work in the request, as well as touches through out some furniture pieces.
- The bay windows, though beautiful, presented a bit of a challenge with regard to coverings. Rosemary's solution was to use custom sun shades to block out light, and floor-to-ceiling sheers to invoke a Deco feel, soften the edges and accentuate the 11 ft. ceilings.
Thought worth it -- because you will get exactly what you want -- changing the floor plan often means extra cost. As such, much of what Rosemary had to negotiate for was treated as an upgrade. Taking into consideration Rosemary's fee (which runs between $18 - $24K for a project of this nature), this condo conversion is certainly on the high end. Enjoy the Gallery!
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Did you know all this was possible in a condo? What do you think of the space?