Space-Saving Furniture for Small But Perfect Condo Living

Michelle Hopkins
October 29, 2015

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Whether you are a first-time home buyer or downsizing into condo living, one of the hardest things to do is to sell or give away some of those beloved pieces of large furniture. It's hard to imagine living without that massive but gorgeous heirloom buffet that grandma gave you or that huge sectional that you’ve been lounging on for years.

How to fit belongings into a compact space often takes ingenuity and a little planning. However, more often than not, those larger, bulkier pieces simply look too overpowering and out of place in a smaller condo.

“People who are downsizing from a medium or large home often have large-scale, deeper, wider furniture that really doesn't work well in a condo,” says Amanda Hamilton, principal of Amanda Hamilton Design. “You just can't get the same depth in a smaller space.”

A common misconception is that decorating a condominium must be first and foremost all about functionality rather than design. That sentiment could not be further from the truth. Your condo may be short on its footprint, but that doesn’t mean it has to be short on style.

Is there room for both function and style? A resounding yes, says Hamilton.

"You can fill your condo with items that fit your space while highlighting your personal style and personality… you don’t have to give up one for the other," she adds.

Over the last few years furniture designers have been creating furniture for small interiors, such as condominiums and apartments, and coming up with multifunctional solutions with a beautiful aesthetic value.

When we think of space-saving furniture, we conjure up images of Murphy beds or beds with underneath storage. Although that still holds true today, there are also other innovative examples – such as trundle beds that can be folded into a sofa when watching television.

With a little time and a few helpful ideas, a space-challenged dwelling can become not only a functional home but a beautiful one as well.

Hamilton’s Favourite Space-Savers

  1. One of the best multi-functional and useful pieces of furniture is the side table/seat combo. “For clients, we frequently will add in wood stumps or poofs that act as both side tables and extra seating,” Hamilton adds. “You can also layer them for extra dining table space.” Because of their size, they can easily be moved and stored underneath a coffee table.
  2. The drop-leaf table is a timeless and elegant piece of furniture that has been used in homes for centuries. It became popular where dining space was limited. The folding leaves extend to allow for more seating or, when not in use, the table can be tucked against a wall. 
  3. Nesting tables. Use them separately, place them across the room, and store them together when you’re done. You can find ultra-modern ones in clear, transparent design or beautiful rustic, chic, antique ones.
  4. Ottomans are another fabulous furnishing. Today's ottoman is firmly established as the design go-to, cherished for classic good looks as well as for casual entertaining. “The shape, style and upholstery of today's ottoman can add casual elegance to a room,” says the interior designer. “They are very versatile. Many ottomans are on casters so you can just slide them out of the way for easy storage.” You can also buy ottomans that offer removable tops with storage space for toys or blankets or some with attachable, oversized coffee tray tables.
  5. Wine racks. You might not consider a wine rack if space is at a premium, but it doesn’t have to be that way. There are wine racks that allow you to store a couple of dozen wine bottles that can easily fit on any wall. It's also a great DIY project, adds Hamilton. You can create stunning sculptural ones or ones made out of your favourite wood.
  6. Many of us work from home and finding a solution for much-needed office space can be challenging. There are wall-mounted, semi-circular drop-leaf tables that become desks in seconds and can also be used as nightstands.
  7. Floating bookcases take up no floor space and can display things that communicate who you are, such as artwork, mementoes collected during your travels, and curios that mean a lot to you. You can also change your vignettes throughout the year. Stagger shelves to create a visually stunning feature wall.

“There are lots of creative solutions to furnishing a small space and another one that I especially like is repurposing goods you already have,” says Hamilton. “We had an old wine box that we decided was the perfect spot to display our records, and it is also a great space saver.”

Michelle Hopkins
Michelle Hopkins is a Vancouver-based freelance writer with extensive magazine, newspaper and online writing experience in home décor, new home developments, culinary adventures, wine, travel and more. Michelle writes for many notable publications including Real Estate Weekly and other Glacier Media Group publications, Western Living Magazine, Vancouver Magazine, Home Décor & Renovations, to name just a few. Michelle is passionate about anything to do with real estate.