Building Character into a Basic Condo

Builder Basic.  A term that makes most people cringe.  It’s music to our ears.  We prefer to think of it as ‘blank canvas’.  Think about it, you typically have a fairly neutral palette, with non-threatening finishes to work from.  Builders and developers do this for good reason.  The more similar each suite is, the more efficient to build from a cost and time perspective.

We recently had the opportunity to work on a special project for clients of ours in Victoria, BC.  They had purchased a 700 sq.ft. loft space and wanted to add some character as well as wanted their home to tell their story.  They had found personal articles that had been collected over the years by their parents and grandparents, and quickly realized that there was a great story there.

 

The Concept

 

The concept was to have a luxe space that housed all of the family heirlooms and collectibles, without being kitschy.  The homeowners wanted a space that was relaxing, original and a reflection of both them and their family members.

 

 

The husband’s grandfather came to Canada with very little but was able to start his own Barber Shop and actually purchase the building in which it was located.  His father lived with his grandparents in the apartment above the barber shop.  While going through boxes of old items, the couple found these photos of the barber shop and wanted a place for them in the loft.

 

 

The concept was to have a luxe space that housed all of the family heirlooms and collectibles, without being kitschy.

Because the photos they found were in great condition, we wanted to display them in large scale.  So we designed a mural to be placed on the wall in the den so you see it right when you enter the space.  The homeowners had come across an original barber pole and purchased that to be added to the loft as well.

Design Tip: Artwork doesn’t have to be painting on a canvas.  Personal photographs and unique items add just as much character to the space!

 

 

The Challenge

Because the homeowners had so many items from their family tree, we wanted to have ample space for display.  Luckily, we were working with the height of a loft so that was not an issue.  We used almost every exposed wall for built in storage, and to display artwork and family photos.

Design Tip: We painted the TV media wall black to disguise the TV in the room.

The ‘wish list’ from the homeowners was that they wanted a space to relax and watch TV, ample kitchen dining room space to act as a make-shift office when necessary, and loads of storage to display all of the memories they wanted to see.

In smaller spaces like this you need fixtures that have double duty.

In order to fit a dining room table AND a built in pantry for additional storage, we designed the table to be built off of the island.  With a marble top and a trapezoid base, the table makes a statement as well as serves it’s purpose.  Rather than have the typical 3 pendants hanging over the island, we added one large fixture that spans the island and the table.  In smaller spaces like this you need fixtures that have double duty.

The challenge with builder basic condos is that the kitchens are typically small, and don’t leave much room for extra storage.  So we used the height of the wall to create a custom pantry solution for food, small appliances and wine storage, all built around a custom art piece that belonged to the couple.  We took full advantage of the height by adding open storage for memories above.

The challenge with builder basic condos is that the kitchens are typically small, and don’t leave much room for extra storage.

Condos are often an overlooked piece of real estate that you can really customize to be your own, not to mention they’re usually in prime locations.  So the next time you hear builder basic, don’t cringe.  Think of it as a blank canvas!