How to... Make Your Small Space Bigger: Condo Renovation Solutions

Bob de Wit
September 14, 2015

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1) Big Ideas for Small Spaces

With the rising popularity of the micro-condo and people prioritizing location over square-footage more than ever, making the most of the space you do have is essential. With these design and organizational ideas, your condo will feel like anything but lacking in size.

  • Dual-functional furniture: The smaller the condo, the more likely multifunctional spaces are already something you embrace. Investing in dual-functional furniture that can be tucked away or serve as hidden storage reduces unnecessary obstructions.
  • De-clutter: Striving for modern minimalism and only keeping around the essentials opens up a room. Clutter will only cramp up and waste potential open areas.
  • Built-in, creative, accessible storage is crucial to stay organized. “If you have a mini-pantry or even a closet, these areas are often overlooked to transform them into an efficient storage system. I suggest to start with these areas first and work your way out towards other areas of your home”, advises Joseph Choi, owner of ShelfGenie BC and local Cabinet Whisperer. Choi specializes in designing layouts that transform cabinets and keep everything within reach.
  • "Organize areas based on themes to maximize your spaces. For example, keep similar height foods like cans on the same pull-out shelf so you can add more pull-outs. Rinse and repeat with other items such as spices and oils".
  • Trick the eye: Striving for illusions of openness, such as using light and airy paint colours, enhances a room. Large and strategically placed mirrors are a classic technique to create the impression of a bigger and brighter room. Not only do mirrors add elements of luxury, but illuminate to make the most of natural light.
  • Have big dreams for your small condo: Work with an experienced designer that understands your needs, current design trends, and how to make the most of all spaces to help you in your space-saving endeavor.

Visit for a list of our custom homebuilder, renovator and designer members.

2) Moving Walls in a Condo

There’s nothing quite like entertaining in a great room with the opportunity to host and mingle with your guests at the same time. An open floorplan makes the most modest sized condos feel spacious, while bringing everyone together and maximizing natural light. However, many dated condos have unnecessary walls boxing in areas like the kitchen and dining areas, leaving rooms feeling dim or isolated.

Removing dividing walls makes a huge improvement on the overall impression and flow of a space. But moving walls is an endeavour that requires careful considerations and planning, so it’s essential to employ the help of a professional renovator. A renovator “will assist with strata approval and city permits which must be obtained for any renovation”, says Graeme Huguet, Owner of My House Design/Build/Team Ltd

“When looking at altering a floorplan or moving walls in a condo, one needs to consider how the building is heated, where ducting and conduits travel, window and door positions, and whether the floor is concrete or wood.” All of these considerations will impact feasibility and the finished floorplan. Redoing ceiling plaster and relaying flooring are all components of a wall removal job and need to be scheduled into your renovation timeline.

“Your home renovator can determine what walls can be moved and how, by using existing blueprints and making test holes in walls.” Make sure you work with a professional who understands design, construction, and can readily assess any unexpected factors that may arise for a seamless and stress free remodel.

Consider hiring a GVHBA RenoMark certified renovator for your renovation. You can book a free one-on-one consultation at the GVHBA Home Reno Show on Saturday, September 19 to sit down with local renovators to make your open-concept dream a reality.

3) Transforming the Smallest Room

Approaching a bathroom renovation in a condo is similar to that in a detached home, as it is a value-adding investment and a desirable selling feature. Bathroom renovations deliver a higher return on investment than most, when done right.

However, when renovating a condo, it is imperative to read up and do your research before any transformations can begin. All condos are part of a strata, and not all strata laws are the same. Become well versed in the laws regarding your suite to determine which endeavours will require written permission to proceed.

Once building permits are obtained and paperwork is out of the way, the fun can begin. Typically, there is less square footage to work with in a condo bathroom, requiring more creativity on the planning front. Depending on the function of the bathroom, it is important to make plans accordingly. For example, a pedestal sink replacing a drawered vanity is an excellent touch of luxury and way to save space, but it limits storage possibilities and wouldn’t be practical for a single-bathroom suite.

“Be creative with limited space in terms of storage and function”, advises Todd Senft, president of reVISION Custom Home Renovations Inc. “Tiled-in recessed niches in the shower or recessed medicine cabinets tuck items away and are a great way to create new storage spaces, freeing up more crowded areas like under the sink.”

Even small afterthought space-saving considerations can make a big difference, like “installing a curved shower rod, to make the shower area feel larger,” suggests Senft.

When adding value to a bathroom, luxury and quality aren’t synonymous for size. Improvements are all in the quality of the surfaces, fixtures and arrangement of the space to reflect your needs.

Do it right the first time. Quality workmanship shows and makes a difference. Book a free one-on-one consultation at the GVHBA Home Reno Show on Saturday, September 19 to sit down with reVISION Custom Home Renovations or other renovators to make your bathroom renovation dreams a reality.

The GVHBA’s free Fall Home Reno show is on Saturday, September 19 from 10am to 4pm at the Hard Rock Casino Theatre Vancouver, 2080 United Boulevard, Coquitlam. For more information or to pre-register, visit

Bob de Wit
Bob de Wit is the CEO of the Greater Vancouver Home Builders’ Association (GVHBA), the voice of the residential construction industry in Metro Vancouver. GVHBA has more than 850 members and is proudly affiliated with the provincial and national Canadian Home Builders' Associations.