Primed By Design | Milton Interior Decorator

Older unit has space advantage, Best Laid Plans by Donna Jean MacKinnon, Dec. 31, 2010

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Maria and her husband have been living in a 1,320-square-foot condominium for a number of years and now they want to update their suite. Interior decorator Sharyn Kastelic finds this a pleasant “older” plan, with plenty of space and nicely located private bedrooms. She also likes the huge laundry room, which is discretely tucked away. (Maria could make it more functional if she stacked the appliances and used the exterior wall for a storage unit.)

The biggest flaw here is the width of the living and dining room. Oddly, the master bedroom is wider than the principle living space, according to Kastelic, owner of Primed by Design Inc.

Maria writes she would like to remove the sliding doors between the living room and solarium.

Kastelic agrees it is time to eliminate the sliding door and open up the space, nothing that the separate solarium was a popular feature 20 years ago.

Once the slider is gone, the next step is to remove the kitchen tile and old-fashioned broadloom in the living, dining and bedrooms and also tear up whatever flooring is in the foyer. Kastelic recommends replacing it all with engineered hardwood, laid horizontally to widen the space, visually. Maria can keep her tiles in the bathrooms and laundry.

“When it comes to an update, new wooden floors are the best improvement you can make and also the best bang for your buck,” Kastelic says.

Kastelic advises removing the left foyer wall and taking some space from the dining room to build a closet that mimics the one on the right. Because Maria uses the dining area as a home office, Kastelic suggests separating it from the living room by installing a pair of French doors with frosted glass. This change will create a proper corridor and eliminate the bowling alley effect in the long, narrow central space.

The office has room enough for a desk and a storage unit with filing drawers.

Kastelic warns, however, that when walls come down, ceilings need to be redone. In this case, Kastelic assumes the dated ceiling has sprayed stucco. This will require sanding and a new paint job, another measure that freshens up and lightens a suite.

“When you start improving, there’s always a domino effect because the old things look shabby,” Kastelic says. “The present layout in the kitchen looks fine. If the cabinets are in good shape, I’d paint them white and buy new knobs. And, if the budget allows, invest in modern stainless appliances, new faucets and a glass backsplash.”Kastelic recommends contacting Royal Finishing Inc., a company that specializes in re-finishing and painting old cupboards. (416-740-8284,

Kastelic would use the space on the left wall beyond the stove for a pantry. This leaves Maria with the entire solarium for a dining room with a view. Kastelic advises running a rectangular table (3 foot by 7 foot) from the top right corner and parallel to the windows. This long table will accommodate six chairs, including two end chairs, with arms and upholstered backs that will be useful as extra seating in the living room. Maria also has space for a potted tree in both corners and a buffet along the right wall.

Kastelic assumes there is no wiring for a ceiling fixture in the solarium, so she urges Maria to make use of the round pillar. She suggests painting the pillar white and parking in front of it a retro arc lamp that arches up and over the dining table. Kastelic also recommends white Eclipse shutters for the windows

The left living room wall is long enough for a sofa and a pair of end tables. There’s also space for two easy chairs and a glass coffee table anchored by a 6-by-9-foot area rug. On the opposite wall, Kastelic would go with a low media cabinet with higher (not too high) bookcases at each end, ensuring there’s enough space above the low section for a wall-mounted, flat-screen television.

“The bookcases will balance off the sofa and end tables. And keeping everything low means the view will not be obstructed,” Kastelic says.

Both the master and guest bedrooms have enough space for normal furnishings, according to Kastelic. If she wishes, Maria could modernize the huge ensuite by installing a smaller tub and making a larger shower stall enclosed in glass.

“I would stick to light walls, especially in the living room, and choose contemporary accessories, fabrics and carpets, also in lighter tones,” Kastelic says. “And, if Maria is thinking of new furniture, I recommend looking for contemporary pieces with light metal or white frames.”

Note: The Furniture Layout Plan on the right was not included with the original article.

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