Kiki Interiors - Decor and Staging

Thursday, March 18, 2010

What is good design?


I recently had the opportunity to get a sneak peek at a condo model for an upcoming new development in downtown Ottawa. This model was designed and decorated by a Toronto based firm.

Since my blog is not about trashing other designers, the firm will remain nameless. But after my viewing I found myself asking many questions, but mainly - what is good design? The condo model is definitely unique but I personally feel that good design is not just having a spectacular looking place but one that is really functional. This model was a large enough space (approx. 1,000 sq. ft) but it felt so small. The proportions were way off. The kitchen island was double the size of a normal island (which would have been a great way to add pot and pan drawers) leaving a tiny dinning space where a table with four chairs was squeezed into the unit. The large kitchen island also impacted the size of the living room, where there was only enough space for a love seat. The storage in the kitchen was extremely limited, the cabinets were not even deep enough to store dinner plates!! The light fixtures were very heavy looking and did not provide much light. The master bathroom was not well laid out - there wasn't any storage for basic personal items or even a garbage can. The kitchen sink was not very deep, not at all useful for a man needing to fill the sink to shave. The colour scheme was not much better it consisted of stark white walls and 'splashes' of charcoal grey. The overall feeling was very cold, lifeless and impractical. I later found out that just about every finishing in the space was an upgrade. This leaves the potential purchasers wondering what will they get for their money without paying a penny more for the condo.

In order for a model to be truly successful it must 'work' for the clientele. Could you host a dinner party in the space? Could you host family Christmas? Is there enough storage for basic items such as glassware, crockery and cutlery? Is there enough closet space for his and her wardrobes? Is the space organized with day to day activities in mind? Such as, the dishwasher in a practical spot, a living room that can fit sufficient seating or a bathroom where one can store their personal items instead of leaving them out for all to see. When buying new, pay attention to the specifications to find out exactly what you will be getting. Unfortunately, the condo model was missing a lot of the practical essentials.

When shopping for a condo or any home, it is so important to look beyond the flash and splash, take a look at the functionality of the space. The best way to do that is to walk through the space and imagine your day to day life. Pretend to unpack groceries and unload the dishwasher to see if the kitchen layout works for you. Open up the closets and see if you have enough space for you (or all of you). Check out the bathroom for layout and storage. Know the dimensions of your existing furniture to see if it will fit in your new place - this also helps if you are moving into a smaller or larger space, as you will have a good idea of what to buy and what to get rid of.

It is very easy to be swept away by a decorated model. The decorated model helps in some ways but it can also seduce you, and sway you into a purchase that may not be right for you. Go to a model viewing with a firm idea of what you are looking for, what you need and what you get for what you pay.

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