The first time I had an opportunity to design a home for myself was about 6 years ago. My boyfriend and I were buying our first place together and we decided to look for something we could renovate and redesign to our own specs. We found a 1980's condo on the waterfront with panoramic lake views and just 10 minutes to downtown, in original condition and ready for a complete gut. It wasn't my dream home, nor did I even design it in a style that reflects what I would want in my dream home, but it was somewhere we only intended on living for 2 or 3 years (which turned into 4). I designed it in a style that I felt suited the condo and would be appealing to buyers when it came time to sell. Although these photos are a good example of my work, they don't necessarily reflect my true personal style. I despise condo living (i need outdoor space), have a passion for simple country antiques, vintage finds and traditional architectural detailing. So buying this condo also meant we had to rent a storage unit across the street to store our oversized rustic pieces and my ever growing collection of 'great finds'.
New Open Concept Kitchen
The existing kitchen was a completely enclosed tiny U shape room, we knocked down all the walls opening it up to the lake views. The new 9 foot long island had a poured on-site concrete counter top and the back counter was stainless steel with an integrated oversize single sink. The backsplash was back painted glass that just glowed a watery blue/green colour. Living Area
The open concept living and dining area had floor to ceiling windows and almost no wall space. The furniture was kept low to not obstruct the view. The draperies added vertical dimension and texture to the space and helped warm up the expanse of bare windows at night. Dining Area
During the day the condo was flooded with direct sunlight so in additon to lined drapery panels, I had Hunter Douglas solar shades installed on all the windows. This helped control the temperature and protect fabrics and wood from fading. (The photo above was taken at about 10 in the morning.) It wasn't possible to install a junction box in the concrete ceiling to hang a light fixture over the dining table so i opted for a high arched floor lamp. It also swiveled so it offerred us the added bonus of being able to swing it over the coffee table in the living room if we wanted. I custom designed the dining chairs and the dining table was a freebie, a cast-off '80's meeting table from my old office, headed for the dumpster but i thought it had great lines and I loved the walnut veneer. I hauled it home just in time for our first Christmas dinner in our newly reno'd condo. I added a larger glass top to it and it comfortably seats 6, we've squeezed 8. I can't tell you how many inquiries I've had about this table and offers to purchase it. In fact its the most standard plain office meeting table there is, the style is commonly referred to as a drum table but i've always admired it for its simple lines. It pairs well with all chair styles, i often use the modern Bruno chairs or Eames side chairs with this style table.
Living/Dining Room Evening Shot
A view of the living and dining area at night, my favorite time. Large expanses of window with water views become large black walls at night, without the drapery panels the windows would look very cold and bare especially in winter.
The Views..... The condo had floor to ceiling windows that wrapped around the perimeter of the unit, and faced south overlooking the lake and marina below. To the far right we could see the corner of one other building, which happens to be what I think is one of the most beautiful condo buildings in the city and provided a stunning architectural view.
The purchase and closing was quick, giving me only about 3 weeks to complete the design drawings and co-ordinate the start of constuction. Demolition was extensive, we removed absolutely everything, including the stippled ceilings, taking the entire unit back to the bare concrete. In a matter of a few weeks I had designed everything including 2 washrooms with custom vanities, the new open concept kitchen with custom shelving, counters and backsplash and even custom doors, casings and baseboards throughout. The entire renovation took 4 months to complete....... but the furnishing of the unit took another 2 years!
In upcoming posts I'll show more before and afters photos along with some of my design sketches and also write about what it was like having the condo featured in Canadian House & Home!
All photos above by Carol Reed