Decorating Your Dwelling

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Condos Radiate Style & Comfort

Story by Kathleen Ramsey     |     Photos by Matt Kocourek

Are you ready for downsizing, a second home or a pied a terre in the city? Condominiums are a great alternative and Kansas City offers a multitude of options when it comes to locations and style. They can be as big as a free-standing home, or more along the lines of 900 to 1800 square feet. They are like little jewel boxes, with great views. The folks at KCH&S have asked me to share a few tips and design considerations for condo design.

Space Planning

With a new construction condo, you can jump in at the beginning stages and create the dream home you want. Custom cabinets, countertops, bathroom tile and flooring. Moving into an existing condo? Don’t be held back with the perception that a new coat of paint and some new flooring are all you should do. You can change cabinets, millwork and some walls. Work with a designer who can help you decide if your digs just need a minor makeover or if it calls for a complete overhaul.

There can be constraints that high rises or smaller spaces place on your creativity. Many older high rises have cement ceilings that limit lighting options. There most certainly are support beams or columns, drains and plumbing that can’t be moved. You may be starting with a blank slate or have furniture or artwork that you want to bring with you. Perhaps you have some collections you want to display, or you really want to entertain differently in your new space. Space planning, or laying out what goes where, is an important step to complete before you move in. Even before you start selecting furniture. When you space plan you will have a better idea of whether your suburban sectional is going to fit, or if you have room for a 36” or 24” nightstand beside your bed.

This may be a painful process as you decide which pieces will fit in your new home. It can also be very freeing to make room for new adventures and experiences. Want a space for doing yoga, or having a cocktail with friends before your dinner reservations? With the help of an interior designer to space plan and think outside the box, your dreams can become reality.

Open Spaces

Many condos, but not all, have an open space that incorporate your kitchen, living room and space for a dining table. It’s the ultimate open floor plan that most of us strive for. The trick becomes, how to make separate distinct areas in what can be a bowling alley or a big square with windows on one side? Space can be defined on the floor with rugs, or changing floor covering. My preference is having the floor in the space be consistent like hardwoods or cement and adding rugs. The rugs don’t need to match, in fact it’s much more interesting if they don’t. They do need to “talk to each other”. Similar colors, or a floral and a geometric that complement each other. Your designer can help with that.

Another way to create space is by adding ceiling architecture. Lowered areas or changes in lighting can define space in subtle ways. One condo that I was asked to consult on recently had HVAC venting that dropped about a foot and created 2 large squares. On the right it created space for the living area and on the left the kitchen. The center was open and that became the entry. In another condo we are floating some sofas to define the living area. Interesting room dividers are a long-standing trick of the trade too.

Design Concept

Now, as they say, comes the fun part! Deciding how you are going to decorate your new space. If you are worried that “condominium” in synonymous with uber contemporary cold living, you have not seen condo living recently. While today’s style can be one of contemporary design, traditional, shabby chic and industrial are just some of the trends you see now. As your new condo is your home, make the investment to have it reflect your lifestyle. I have had a couple of clients that have used the opportunity of a condo to decorate in a style they have only dreamed about. Feel free to stretch your decorating wings and take a bit of a risk.

You will want your space to flow in terms of color and style, so allow colors in your décor to be more prominent in one area and accents in another. Using black always adds some drama, glam and elegance in a space.

Lighting is another important piece of the decorating puzzle. As mentioned earlier, you may have some lighting constraints with cement ceilings. While track lighting can be a great option, don’t feel like that is your only option. Wall sconces are a great look, LED tape for bookshelves, floor and table lamps are lifesavers.

Outdoor Space

Many condos have small balconies. Don’t neglect those areas. Depending on which way your balcony faces it may be windswept or very peaceful. Utilize tall planters that are weighted as windbreaks. Even if you only have room for a couple of chairs and a table, take advantage of your outdoor area. You may not have to mow a yard anymore, but it’s good to be outside.

With the proper planning and an open mind, a condo can be the first or second home of your dreams.

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