Micro-Condo Solutions: Making More Of Less

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REW Editor
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Businesses that make tiny units feel bigger and function better are enjoying a boom as people increasingly downsize and micro-condos take off

When the bigger-is-better mindset is not in your home-buying financial cards, there are plenty of services to make your small space feel larger. Indeed, many of the companies making these products are enjoying a boom thanks to the trend of building smaller, more affordable condos.

Bosa Properties is one of the groups meeting the challenge head on, having introduced its BosaSPACE concept a year and a half ago at its Alumni Tower development in Surrey’s University District. The idea’s second iteration is currently on display in its RiverSky project in New Westminster.

“We created BosaSPACE because we saw a need in the market,” said Daryl Simpson, Bosa Properties senior vice-president. “We were feeling frustrated with the compression of suite sizes which was a function of the demand for smaller, more affordable homes. We wanted to give people more functionality so that a 500-squre-foot apartment would feel and perform like an 800-square-foot one.”

Space and Function

Bosa worked on the concept for over a year, meeting with local and European designers, suppliers and architects. BosaSPACE has proven to be popular with buyers who are able to take advantage of the developer’s volume contracts for top-quality millwork. An extendable table can be a modest two-seat counter/desk/prep station or pull out to seat up to eight for an elegant dinner. The “SleepTHEATRE” conceals a sofa or guest bed behind the TV. A pantry system hides a pull-down ironing board and storage along with a wine rack.

“People don’t have to buy as much furniture,” said Simpson. “For younger buyers, that helps with the affordability pressures. We’ve also worked with buyers who have the means to spend more but want to consume less.”

The Hide-a-Bed Solution

A standard purchase for anyone trying to maximize space in their home is a Murphy bed, a space-saving solution that’s been used for more than a century. BC Murphy Wall-Bed Ltd. has been in the business for more than 38 years and the company’s president Hung Nguyen has seen demand increase as more small condos come on the market.

“If you’re living in 350 square feet, a Murphy bed is the only option that works,” said Nguyen, who has started building beds that, when upright, have dining tables or sofas that fold down.

“We’re also developing a product for students that will serve as a fold-down desk during the daytime. We’re fine-tuning the plans so that the materials that sit on the desk won’t have to be moved off when the bed is being used.”

Offsite Storage

There are a plethora of storage facilities in Metro Vancouver, but many people do not require large storage lockers and can find hauling items to and fro difficult. Alluster Storage Valet caters to people looking to store bulky seasonal equipment such as golf clubs, bikes and skis. People who use the service can also store clothing that isn’t right for the current time of the year or other possessions that they simply don’t have room for.

“We offer delivery from door to door, so you can store your items without ever leaving your home,” said Alluster CEO Rob Buchanan. “Customers have the ability to track their stored possessions online, a feature which isn’t normally available with other storage businesses. When they want something back, they can get exactly the items they want returned with a few clicks.”

Ditch the Parking Stall

Hand in hand with the move to smaller condo sizes is the trend to build fewer parking stalls in these new developments. The City of Vancouver sees this as a way to reduce traffic congestion while encouraging the use of other forms of transportation. In the past, up to two stalls per unit was standard; today many developers are only building one stall for every two condo units. That’s opened up opportunities for car-share businesses with BCAA the latest to jump on the wagon. The association launched Evo Car Share in March, joining Modo, Zipcar and Car2Go in offering urbanites part-time access to vehicles.

“We spent two years talking to Vancouverites about transportation,” said Shan Parmar, director of Evo Car Share, “and we heard loud and clear that people want a more flexible car-sharing option that will allow them to get outdoors and live the BC lifestyle. Our research tells us that nearly 50 per cent of people would give up their cars for a car-sharing option that is as convenient and allows them to do all the things they can do with their own car.

“Evo has over 250 cars available within Vancouver; all our cars are four-door hybrids with lots of cargo space along with two bike racks and ski racks.”


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