Italy has a rich history with a strong emphasis on arts and culture. Their design, much like their art, is eclectic and diverse. In this next installment of the Around the World series, we take a look at Italian design ideas to inspire your condo makeover.
Much of Italian design combines luxury with antique, distressed furnishings and décor. Antique, distressed pieces and walls with intricate details and gold trims work beautifully together for a look that contrasts without clashing. Consider incorporating this look into your condo as well with faux distressed walls, intricate details, and antique furnishings.
“Distressed” walls will add personality to your condo
and give it a historic look and feel.
Art and Literature
Italy has a rich culture, one of sophistication and inspiration. A love of the arts in all forms is evident throughout the country. From brilliant plays on world-class stages to museums filled with works from the world’s greatest artists to grand libraries filled to the brim with books written by the great minds of the past, the country places great emphasis on art and literature. It is no wonder, then, that they bring that passion into their homes. Stunning works of art adorn their walls, and their shelves are nearly overflowing with books.
Express your love of the arts through paintings and other works of art. Create a home library as well in whatever form you can… whether that is a large bookshelf in your home office or a china cabinet filled with books in your living or dining room.
Fill a decorative cabinet with books for a beautiful home library
that complements your Italian design.
Sleek and Modern
Not all Italian design is antique and rustic. Some regions prefer sleeker, more modern styles. However, they still have that Italian flair with furnishings and décor that are stunning and artistic.
Complement your Italian design with beautiful floral arrangements and other plants.Create your own mini garden on your balcony and add a final touch with a floral trim around the door.
A balcony garden and a floral trim around the door
will complement your Italian design nicely.
If you have a multi-level unit or a loft, then consider updating the stairs to reflect your Italian design as well. Beautifully-finished, artistic stairs with tile risers and a wrought iron railing will make a stunning addition to your home.
Upgrade your bathroom as well with an elegant, contemporary design. Black and copper work well together and give it the look of luxury. Incorporate Italian design into your bathroom with a stunning vessel sink and clawfoot tub.
This contemporary bathroom console makes a stunning addition
to an Italian contemporary bathroom. Credit: MaestroBath
If you are the artistic type, then you will want your home to reflect that. Sometimes, though, we can fall victim to artists block and have trouble coming up with ideas that we truly love and will enjoy creating. Here are some ideas that will inspire the artist within.
DIY Hanging Planters
Hanging planters are certainly nothing new, but designing your own allows you get really creative and make unique planters that will draw a lot of attention from guests. Make it completely your own with your unique artistic style, whether that means adding a lot of bling, making chandelier-style planters, or simply hanging planters using pearls or beads instead of string. You can get as crazy as you want and make each planter a one-of-a-kind piece of art.
This chandelier makes a lovely planter that would look amazing in your condo bedroom,
dining room, or kitchen. Replace lights with plants in an existing fixture and use recessed lighting instead.
Lamp shades are also easily customizable. You can take an ordinary shade and attach jewels, ribbon, and whatever else you want to create a unique design. The possibilities are endless, but you will want to use caution when doing so. Be wary of fire hazards when choosing which materials you use.
The creativity does not have to stop with décor, either. Custom furnishings can be works of art as amazing and diverse as the paintings on your wall. You can purchase custom furniture from a variety of stores, online retailers, artists, etc. Alternately, you can scrounge up some materials to make your own. Design an entire line of furniture or create several unique pieces to place in various spots throughout the condo. You can create anything from custom sofas….
This sofa from Anthropologie is stunning and unique,
with a creative flair that would make it the perfect
addition to any artist’s home.
…to custom tables
This gorgeous dining table features an acrylic pour design. Credit: Bich Nguyen
…to shelves and more.
These shelves were made using fallen branches.
Credit: Sebastian Errazuriz
Burst of Colour
Give your living area or bedroom an interesting look with a burst of colour. I love this idea of getting creative with an otherwise ordinary clock, while also tying it in with the rest of the décor.
This interesting idea features an ordinary clock surrounded by an interesting design painted on the wall,
adding a burst of colour to an otherwise blank wall and tying the room together.
If you are itching to paint a mural but do not want to cover the walls, then consider painting your door instead. Painting a mural on your door draws guests’ attention from the moment they approach your condo (or bedroom or office). It is also a brilliant idea and will not devalue your unit because you can always remove and replace the door if you decided to sell later on. Plus, it’s a mural that you can take with you wherever you move.
This door is a work of art all its own, making a statement from the moment guests
arrive. You can paint the door to your entrance for a similar effect,
or simply paint the door to your bedroom, office, or balcony.
Interior decorating can be incredibly fun. You have complete control over your home or space, and you can make it all your own. Mix style and sophistication with your own personality and culture. Pick out the perfect colours and patterns, scour through paint samples, and find furnishings and décor that match. Then pull the whole look together with some accent pieces. However, sometimes the excitement of it all causes us to get carried away. The following is a list of interior decorating mistakes that you should avoid as you design the condo of your dreams.
Sometimes this works out. Other times… not so much. When you are out shopping or running errands, you may come across a seemingly perfect piece that calls out your name, and you cannot wait to take it home. However, it is best to take a step back, put it on hold, get some measurements, and take a photo of it. When you are at home, look around your home and see if there actually is space for it anywhere or if you can move things around to make room for it. Once you have found a place that works, make sure it will go well with the surrounding décor. While a piece may seem perfect in the store, it may clash horribly with the rest of your condo and turn an otherwise stylish home into an eyesore.
The red sofa blends well with the rest of the decor for a country feel.
The chairs, however, clash and make the room look tacky.
Not Taking Surroundings into Consideration
When you are decorating, you need to make sure that you are taking your surroundings into consideration. Avoid covering air ducts, blocking vents, etc. You also do not want to place a sofa or bed in the wrong spot. While that spot may seem perfect as far as aesthetics goes, it may make you and your guests feel uncomfortable. Placing a bunk bed underneath an air vent, for instance, will make the room far too cold for the person sleeping on the top bunk.
Avoid blocking outlets, fuse boxes, etc. with heavy furnishings. Instead, use decorative outlet covers to make them blend in with your décor. If child safety is a concern, invest in some childproof protectors that plug into the sockets. Anything else that is an eyesore can typically be covered with a painting or something else that is small and easily moved when necessary. Air ducts, however, should not be covered. Otherwise, air flow will be restricted, making your room way too warm. This will cause your air conditioner to work harder to cool your home, which will result in a much higher electric bill.
Not Having a Focal Point
While this is not necessarily a mistake, it does deserve consideration. Having a focal point can give you direction in your interior design and bring your whole look together. Choose one thing that you want to be the center of attention. While most people choose the television, a better choice would be something unique like a large window or a piece of art. Start there and work your way out, creating a design that works well together and draws attention to the focal point.
The focal point of this room is this work of art,
around which the furniture has been arranged.
In parts one and two of this series, we discussed impulse buying, focal points, colour schemes, and more. In part three, we focus on the tendency to be too straight-laced or too “out there.” While thinking outside the box and colouring inside the lines are great, sometimes it is better to find a happy medium. Get creative and do your own thing, but be sure to take overall aesthetics into consideration as well.
Following All the Latest Trends
Trying to keep up with the latest trends can be exhausting, not to mention expensive. You decorate a room (or your entire condo, for that matter) to match current trends, only to discover that they have gone out of style by the time you are done. Then you have to start all over again. Instead, focus more on your own personal traits and interests. Design your condo to reflect your culture and heritage, choose styles that you truly enjoy, or incorporate your personal interests into a neutral design. If you enjoy reading, for instance, consider putting a quote from your favourite book on the wall. You can also frame photos of your favourite authors and hang them on the walls as well. Create a timeless look that incorporates your interests. Then, you can keep up with trend in smaller ways that can be easily changed as needed.
This design would have been a hit in the 80s but not so much today. Likewise, today’s trends will soon fade into obscurity.
Thinking Too Far Outside the Box
While thinking outside the box is a great idea and can lead to some uniquely wonderful pieces that spark conversation, some pieces just leave us scratching our heads. Artistic furniture, unique pieces from around the world, and interesting artworks from your favourite local artist are excellent ways to add a touch of whimsy to your home. However, if you skew too far in that direction, you may end up more eccentric than whimsical. An aquarium table, for instance, is an interesting piece that allows you to have the fish you want in limited space. It is also a quirky piece that gets people talking. An aquarium toilet, on the other hand, is too out there, and the only thing your guests are likely to ask is, “Why?”
Being Too Gender-Specific
Some men love their bachelor pads and man caves, just as some women love their floral arrangements and decorative throws. While this can work wonderfully when you are living alone, it may not always be the case. If you are living with others (or plan to in the near future), then you may want to focus more on gender-neutral décor that everyone can enjoy. If you are decorating the kids’ rooms, then use neutral décor and their own personal favourite colours. Not all girls like pink, and not all boys like blue.
In part one of this series on unique decorating ideas, we discussed artistic furniture, alternatives to painting, Escher-inspired flooring and walls, unique and a unique bathtub. In this next part, we will continue the series by focusing on out-of-the-box decorating tips for those with a limited budget.
Public Domain Art
Instead of forking over a ton of cash for expensive art, a more frugal alternative is to print and frame public domain images from library sites and Wikimedia Commons. These sites offer a wide variety of images that are typically used for articles, advertisements, etc. However, they are also perfect for framing and placing around the house. You can find all kinds of images of varying qualities and mediums.
Create your own custom art and décor. If you are artistic, then you can display your original works around the house. If you are not quite that artistic but still love to make things with your hands, then you can have fun creating crafts and making your own, unique décor. Cardstock is great for this. You can cut out various shapes and designs to add a nice, personal touch to your home.
Bottles can make great alternatives to traditional vases, and it is a great way to recycle them rather than throwing them out. You can use almost any kind of bottle… wine, beer, soda, medicine, etc. Once the bottle is empty, use fingernail polish to help remove the labels, clean the bottle, and sanitize it. Then you can paint, stain, or otherwise decorate these bottles to create one-of-a-kind vases for your flower arrangements.
If you do a lot of traveling, then consider creating a wall or mural to highlight this. Frame maps from places you have visited and hang them up. Alternately, you could paint (or attach) a large map on your wall. Then hang photographs and souvenirs from those locations. This can be a fun, yet inexpensive way to display your memories and travels. It also makes for an excellent conversation starter.
If you have old shirts from concerts, favorite bands, sports teams, or any other shirt with sentimental value, then consider displaying them. Fold them onto canvas or cardboard and mount them on the wall.
Instead of buying large photos or decals to display on your wall, use stencils and paint to put your favorite quotes on the wall. Get creative and add some artistic flair to it. You can also use stencils and paint to add all types of art and designs, silhouettes, etc. on the walls around your condo.
In this installment of the Around the World series, we will take a look at African interior designs and how to incorporate them into your home for an earthy look that is inspired by Africa’s rich history and culture.
Much of African décor is tan and brown, with splashes of bright red, yellow, and orange. Soft earth tones will make your condo feel open and comforting, while the more vivid colours will make each room burst with life. Contrast tan furniture with wooden shelves and décor in a dark brown. Then add a more vibrant painting, clay masks, and other works of art to tie the look together in a way that is uniquely African. Take it a step further by incorporating a love of music and dance with talking drums, kalimbas, and more.
Animal prints are common in African design. Try incorporating this theme in small quantities with animal print throw pillows and rugs, as well as paintings of wildlife in the African savannah.
Custom paintings and murals are stunning, and they add an artistic flair to your home. Choose a wall and paint silhouettes of people doing everyday activities, along with some mountains and bonsai trees to create a breathtaking mural that combines art and sophistication with African style and culture.
If you are renovating, consider replacing your tub with a clawfoot tub or free-standing shower and your sink with a water basin or vessel sink. Distressed walls adorned with clay masks and subtle floral arrangements will make for a stunning master bathroom. A half-wall next to the toilet would also provide additional privacy.
Wallpaper versus Painting
If you prefer to use wallpaper over painting, then you may want to consider decorative wall finishes and wallpaper with designs similar to animal fur, scales, etc. Create an exotic, leather look with a combination of plater-like and textured wallpaper.
African décor works well with most contemporary designs and furnishings. Play up Africa’s rich heritage with works of art, tribal décor, wooden bowls, bronze sculptures, handmade textiles, and more. Combine these with modern furnishings for a complete look that combines function and fashion in limited space.
Recessed lighting to highlight bookshelves and focal points (such as key pieces of décor) are a nice touch. Add some artistic flair as well with custom lights around the home. Overhead lights that look like branches breaking through your ceiling (below) would make an excellent addition to your African-inspired décor.
If you are looking for a new look to brighten up your condo for the summer, consider incorporating Caribbean styles for a fresh look that is sure to make you feel relaxed.
Bamboo and Rattan
Bamboo and rattan furnishings like rocking chairs and coffee tables will complement a Caribbean style nicely, and large rattan screens are excellent for covering blank walls or separating spaces. Consider placing a screen between your living and dining rooms to create a separate, intimate space. These screens also work well on balconies. Place one against the outside wall and surround it with bamboo, tropical plants, and a lounge chair or patio swing for ultimate comfort and relaxation. Carry the look over into other parts of the condo to tie the whole look together. Consider rattan blinds and doors, for instance. Place vases of bamboo around the home as well.
Replace your bulky dining table and chairs with a smaller table and Coventry bench in the corner for a simple breakfast nook. This creates the illusion of more space, while also providing more comfortable seating that flows well with your Caribbean theme.
Photography and Art
Hang photographs and artworks from the Bahamas around your home to make it look and feel like you are truly there. Incorporating themed art and photographs will help tie the look together.
Blue and White
A great deal of Caribbean décor is light and airy with soft hues. Opt for a primarily white scheme with splashes of colour (soft green, turquoise blue, or canary yellow) throughout your décor. Then place random bursts of tan, bronze, brass, or gold here and there for a contrast that makes the room pop without overdoing it.
Transform your balcony into your own private oasis, where you can unwind after a long day of work and errands. Bamboo and tropical plants will go a long way in creating the Caribbean look you desire. By the time you are done, you may never want to leave home again.
Indoor or Outdoor Bar
Another excellent idea for making your home feel like you are on vacation year-round is to invest in a private bar, whether that means a larger bar in your dining room or a minibar on your balcony. Having a place to kick back with friends can make a world of difference. Bars are also great for those who love to entertain and do so frequently.
Condo layouts, much like detached houses, vary according to size and structure. When space is limited, certain areas gain more focus than others. In order to ensure a sale, the sellers will focus on the main features, such as appliances that need to be replaced or upgraded, repairs that need to be made, and carpet that needs to be replaced.
Often, the small details fall by the wayside, even though they can sometimes be major selling points depending on the person. The majority of closets, for instance are rather simple. Even large, walk-in closets have a plain layout. While this is perfectly fine for some people, others may need more storage options, especially if they are sharing a space with others.
In this final installment of the series on Space-Saving Ideas for Small Condos, we will focus on closet expansion and organization, as well as creative solutions for many of the issues that arise from lack of adequate storage. The following are tips for using and upgrading various closets around your condo in order to get the most out of the space you have.
Sometimes, certain features will be sacrificed in order to make more room for others. One such feature that may be missing is the pantry. If your kitchen does not have a pantry or adequate cabinetry, then you will need to come up with another solution. In the last article, we discussed a couple of solutions. These included recessed cabinetry and additional furniture which can be used to store food and extra dishes, such as fine china.
However, sometimes these solutions are not feasible. Limited space will make it difficult to add furniture, such as wardrobes and shelves. Recessed cabinetry will not work for everyone either. If you cannot renovate due to lack of time or funds, or if that type of renovation is prohibited or otherwise not possible, then you will need to find another solution. One option is to convert an unused closet into a makeshift pantry.
In my last apartment, I did not have a pantry. The one-bedroom and three-bedroom units had pantries, but the two-bedroom units did not. Because I barely had enough cabinet space for my dishes, I needed to come up with an alternative. So, I emptied out the coat closet, which was right next to the kitchen and entryway, and added shelving to convert it into a pantry. Since we had a walk-in closet in the bedroom, we were able to move the stuff from the coat closet into there. Even if you do not have a walk-in closet or another storage option, you can still get creative and upgrade your other closets in order to make sure that there is enough space for everything.
Upgrading Your Bedroom Closets
If you or your children share a room with siblings or roommate, you may find that there is a significant lack of space available for all your belongings. There is only so much room on a single bar, after all. If this is the case, then you may need an upgrade. Fortunately, there are some creative and fun ways to expand your closet. Install large shelving units with upper and lower rods to give yourself room for clothes, shoes, extra bedding, and anything else you need to store.
Closet organizer systems like this one can add much more space
for all your clothes and other belongings. Credit: Solidwoodclosets.com
Another way to increase space in your closet is to use vertical hangers, shoe racks, and boot organizers. Many people become overwhelmed with a lack of square footage that they forget about vertical spacing. Floor space may be limited, but you have plenty of wall space to work with.
Vertical hangers and boot organizers make it possible
to store even more in less space. Credit: Wayfair
Brackets versus Rods
Brackets serve as a unique alternative to traditional hanging rods. Use them to hang all your clothes, while separating them by category… jeans, blouses, T-shirts, uniforms, and more. This allows you to make use of as much vertical and horizontal space as possible, letting you fit everything you own without overcrowding your condo.
Brackets allow you to hang much more clothing
than traditional rods. Credit: IKEA
Turn Your Closet into a Dressing Room
Sometimes, master bedrooms are designed to be smaller in order to fit a walk-in closet, which is intended to draw more buyers by making a space look larger than it is. Although it can be a bit frustrating trying to fit everything into such a small bedroom, but it can be done. In fact, moving things around can work out even better than you imagined. If you have a walk-in closet, then move your dresser and mirror into the back of the closet. This will convert your ordinary closet into a full-scale dressing room where everything is within reach. Alternately, you could have a dresser built into your closet organizer. Then just add a chair and full-length mirror.
This Pinterest-worthy closet doubles
as a stunning dressing room.
Office Organizers and Baskets
Use wicker baskets to store your items if additional storage is not available. These baskets can be used for storing old mementos, photographs, out-of-season clothing, etc. Place them underneath clothes, in the back of your closet, or on the top shelf so they are useful but out of the way. Office organizers can be used to store small purses and clutches neatly on a shelf. Hang a vertical organizer in your closet to store larger purses, sweaters, and hats.
Vertical organizers provide extra storage in limited space.
Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Condo Experience
Life in the city can be pretty chaotic, especially if you live in a condo. Between tight spaces and noisy neighbours, it can be a little daunting, especially if you grew up living in detached homes in the suburbs. However, it does not have to be a bad experience. With a little ingenuity, you can make the most of your condo experience without having to sacrifice your sanity.
Limited space does not mean you have to make a lot of sacrifices. It just means you need to get a little more creative with how you incorporate everything. If you need a home office but do not have the room for it (and you are renting or otherwise unable to renovate), then consider a wall-mounted home office. This saves so much space, and you can set up your office in your bedroom, living room, dining area, balcony, or anywhere else you want.
Purchase a wall-mounted desk or create your own, custom home office with shelvesmounted on the wall. Then you only need a desk chair. Alternately, you can simply move a dining chair or other seat over to your new desk when you are working and then put it back where it was when you are done so that it takes up even less space.
Wall-mounted shelves can be used for multiple purposes… desks, dining areas, bars, tables, displays, etc.
This wall-mounted desk opens and closes as needed. Credit: Amazon
If you have a small bedroom, share with roommates, or have children that share, then consider daybeds as a nice alternative to regular, full-sized beds. They provide all the comfort of a regular bed without taking up a significant portion of your walking space. Daybeds can also be useful alternatives to a sofa. You still have the seating you need in your living room, but it also doubles as a super comfortable bed for an overnight guest.
This lovely daybed would make a charming addition to a bedroom
or living area without taking up a lot of space. Credit: Bukit
Shelves for Your Spices
If you enjoy cooking and entertaining, you may have trouble finding room for all your gadgets, utensils, dishes, and small appliances. One tip for increasing space is to add some shelves on the wall above your counter. This will give you room for spices, dishes, cooking oil, utensils, and more while keeping them within reach when needed. Use jars or containers with lids to store flour and sugar neatly. Combine function and fashion with a full set of matching containers in various sizes.
Shelving above your kitchen counter provide much-needed space,
while keeping everything within reach while you are cooking.
Credit: Style by Emily Henderson
Hidden Storage for Your Appliances
Another way to make your kitchen feel larger is to clear the countertops of unnecessary clutter, leaving only a few small pieces of décor (such as a flower vase and decorative towels) for that personal touch. Hide small appliances in a small cabinet or appliance garage when not in use so that they are out of the way.
Appliance garages hide away your small appliances when not in use
so they do not take up necessary space on your countertops. Credit: Pinterest
Decorating your condo can be pretty exciting. You can use the trendiest styles, create an amazing look using one central theme, or combine any number of styles to make it entirely your own. If you are a particularly creative person, then you may have a less traditional approach to decorating. The following are sure to inspire the out-of-the-box thinker.
Indoor Treehouse or Playhouse
Treehouses are every kid’s dream. Hours of fun can be had, climbing and playing around. If you live in a condo, this can seem impossible. Without a backyard, you cannot have a treehouse. Or can you? Bring the outdoors inside with an indoor treehouse or playhouse, which can be custom built to your specifications, and you can design and build it to look just like a tree. The treehouse can also double as a loft bed.
An Escher-inspired floor or wall can be a fascinating addition to your condo, as well as a conversation starter. Use a similar pattern or idea to cover your entire floor, in one area similar to a rug, or as a mural on the wall. An Escher-inspired design behind your bed would certainly make for an interesting alternative to the traditional headboard.
Get really creative with artistic décor and furnishings. This can be really fun and vary according to your own personal likes and interests. An aquarium table, artistic sofa, and any other out-of-the-ordinary furniture or décor can add a unique touch to your condo and reflect your personality. It is also sure to be the highlight of your get-togethers.
If you have a boring view outside your windows, then consider investing in alternative blinds. Aalto+Aalto is one company offering unique blinds, called Better View blinds. These perforated blackout curtains, designed by Elina Aalto, are available in five different designs, each one a city view… Tokyo, Berlin, Paris, Helsinki, and Stockholm. The “views” are cut out so that the light comes through, illuminating the scenery.
If you are renovating your condo bathroom and space permits, consider installing a hammock-like bathtub. These tubs provide ultimate relaxation and comfort for bathing and pampering yourself after a long day.
Do you have a lot of paint chips that you have collected over the years? If so (or you have access to a lot of them), consider covering an entire wall or a partial wall in them for a creative alternative to actually painting.