Help with open concept condo: livingroom & kitchen
January 5, 2013 in Design Dilemma
I moved into this rental condo almost a year ago and beyond what you see, have done nothing with it. I'm allowed to paint, though my landlord wants to approve the colours.

My issue is that the condo looks empty, awkward, and kind of cold. It's not very welcoming or comfortable visually, which is where I need some advice.

The ceilings are ~9.5 feet tall, while my furniture tends on the small side on purpose. I just had the sofa and matching chair reupholstered (I matched the original 1950s colour). Of everything in the room, that's my only non-negotiable item. However, I'm also not interested in my place becoming a mid-century modern showroom. :)

The condo faces North-West. I get reflected light for most of the day, but direct light in the late afternoon that can really heat up my place in the summer. I'll concede that the brown curtains are probably the wrong thing, but whatever replaces them must be reasonably heavy to keep out heat/drafts as well as withstand the cat (she's not a climber, but likes running in and out of the folds with toys).

The bathroom is too small for the litter box, which MUST remain on a non-carpet surface; the scratching climber thing is much loved by the cat and needs to be in sight of the living room so that she gets in less mischief (and keeps the claws OUT of my sofa!)
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And here's the condo unit floor plan, since I know it's sometimes hard to figure out a space from photos alone.
January 5, 2013 at 11:20am   
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Dawned on me that I hadn't actually asked questions. Ooops.

1. What colour would you paint the walls? Should the kitchen be a different colour and where is the dividing point between the living room and kitchen if yes?

2. Does it make sense to put coordinating/complimentary wallpaper on the right-hand entry wall (visible from living room)?

3. Is there a better way to arrange the furniture in this space?

4. What is missing to add a sense of balance to the room? I'm guessing that height is a key item here when adding to reduce the cavernous feeling.

5. What would you change? :)
January 5, 2013 at 2:39pm   
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I've just moved into a similar sized and shaped place and am asking myself the very same questions. I'm completely new to all things design so I'll be trying to get inspiration from your progress. I've been using an app called roomplanner to play around with different room configurations which I've found useful. For what it's worth, I think you place looks cool as is!
January 5, 2013 at 4:48pm   
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the essentials inside
Hi Opal & rajalicious - Happy New Year!

Opal - I love the sofa & chair! I have a few ideas you might play around w/as far as furniture placement goes.

1st -- You could try this: move the tall bookshelf to where the small bookshelf is and make the small bookshelf your tv stand. I can't tell exactly what your tv is on now but it looks like a chest that you could maybe try as a replacement for your coffee table.

2nd -- You could create a dining space between the bar & the living area. Are you interested in doing that? You'd have to move the matching chair to the other side of the living room and put the non-matching chair in another room. To give you an idea of how that would look take at look at this article --

I'll be back w/some more ideas/comments & pics! :)

January 5, 2013 at 5:40pm     
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A well-chosen and smartly-placed plant or two will help add some life to the room. I think you have a great start. I agree that something taller is needed where the short bookshelf is. Whether it's the taller shelf like 'the essentials inside' suggested or adding a lamp, art, and or accessories atop the short shelf.

I don't find your space cold at all, by the way, but I don't live there. Best wishes.
January 5, 2013 at 5:46pm     
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With the low bookcase and bar being almost the same height, you start drawing a visual line around the room. The sofa back and art continue drawing it. Only the tall bookcase and TV break the line. So I agree with doing some switching around.
January 5, 2013 at 6:08pm     
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Cats rule! I like your place, it looks clean but warm at the same time. When looking at the window, I find the right corner a little awkward. I would try switching the bookshelves, tall for the short.
January 5, 2013 at 6:10pm   
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Love it the way it is.
January 5, 2013 at 10:36pm   
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Wow, thanks for the comments everyone!

I rotated the bookcases as many suggested (they're the same IKEA units), removed the trunk, and managed to partially hide the litter box in the corner opened up by the bookcase/tv changes. Also seems that I'm overly critical of my place!

I also moved the cat tree to the space at the end of my cabinet. The hallway is quite wide and it fits under the light switches (cat figured out how to use them, too, though I'm not sure if it's on purpose yet)

Lyvonne, I love how that dining room area looks, but I'm not much for food, so the area would be entirely wasted on me (drat, because it's pretty!). The trunk is unfortunately a terrible coffee table - I used it as one for years and have some nifty dents on my shins to show for it ;)

decoenthusiaste, thanks for pointing out the nice little line o' living room. Missed the forest for the trees!
January 6, 2013 at 10:19am   
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the essentials inside
Hi Opal! The changes look awesome - a huge difference already!

A couple more thoughts -

Can you get another tall ikea bookcase to put right next to the one you have? I think 2 would fill up the space better. For some reason, I was thinking the tall bookcase was wider.

I think the wall behind the tv would look nice w/a art or pictures "gallery style" - kind of like these pics I found on pinterest --

(you don't have to put your tv on the wall to do it - you can leave it on the stand). You don't have to buy all new art. You can use some personal pictures & frame them.

Can you move the white ikea lamp into your bedroom?


So now really just paint & new curtains. Then possibly a new rug & new side tables.

I'd suggest a cool light fixture for the living area but that would require an electrician and a hole in the ceiling. Or will it? I see something on the ceiling in the living room - what is that?


P.S. I agree - you are too critical of your space. It was already great - it is just going to get better.
January 7, 2013 at 4:56pm     
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Great improvements!
January 7, 2013 at 4:58pm   
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Interiors International, Inc.
1) no
2) there isn't
3) yes move the cat climbing gym into the corner where it won't dominate the room.
4) A much more dynamic rug, a bigger end tables "round" on either end of the sofa keep the lamps and the floor lamp is great. PS the sofa and chair are fab!
5) Move the small book case somewhere else. Put a taller piece there. Get new bar stools something bright and colorful.
January 7, 2013 at 5:12pm   
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the essentials inside
Hi Opal! How's your space coming along?

February 22, 2013 at 6:28pm   
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I love all the changes. I would suggest one thing to try. The tall lamp on the right side should go on the other side of the tv. The height will work with your tall windows, long curtains and also the height and colours of your pictures behind the couch. Then push the chair back a little where the lamp was.
February 22, 2013 at 6:53pm   
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