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Transforming A Typical Condo Into Your Personal Sanctuary

Finding ways to inject style into a stock downtown condo.

Presented by Chic on the Cheap February 4, 2019

Welcome to downtown Sarasota, the land of explosive condo growth.  The location is great, the architecture is interesting and the views are amazing.  The interior design on the other hand, is non-descript and impersonal—intentionally, I think (or hope).

Neutral backgrounds have been created for owners to add their stamp; to create their own impression and style.  With a blank slate like this, where do you start?!  Sure, you can paint to add color, but what will really set your condo apart from the one above and below you?  While the creative process is ever-evolving, below are a few ideas. 

Let’s start in the bathroom.  At this condo at the Vue, all that was included at purchase were two bare incandescent light bulbs, one over each sink.  The tailored look in the photo below is after a little bit of love was given to the space.  In the world of design and decorating, it isn’t a tall order to add wallpaper, make a custom mirror or relocate junction boxes for lights.  However, it was a combination of these three things that really made the bathroom stand out.  The wallpaper has a subtle pattern, while the lights are dramatic. 

Staying in the bathroom, let’s talk about the shower.  It seems wasteful to remove perfectly good, brand-new tile to get a unique look.  An unobtrusive and fun idea was adding a frosted film to the clear glass shower enclosure.  This did a few things for the space—it gave the shower some privacy and separation from the rest of the bathroom, and added a touch of fun with the bubble pattern.  Adding the words “splish splash” was a comical touch. 

Let’s say that you don't want a cosmetic upgrade and your space needs updating.  While common in larger cities, exposed ductwork and sprinkler pipes aren’t typical here.  In this condo renovation, the goal was to create a continuous ceiling height from the front door to the patio.  The only way to achieve that was to expose the working mechanics of the space, which thrilled this homeowner because it gave her the urban flair she wanted, while still being in the close-knit community that is Sarasota.

The final example of how to add personality to a builder-grade downtown condo is achieved by using the age-old design principle of repetition.  When spaces are small, adding a new design element or finish can overpower.  However, using an existing material in a new way can create interest, harmony and unity.  In this case shown below, adding the wood flooring to the dining room wall helped give definition to the space and added visual impact at eye-level by drawing attention to and highlighting the artwork.  To connect the wall to the space even more, a banquette was added in front of the wall, which also opened up the circulation between the kitchen and dining—a big plus when real estate is at a premium.

The downtown location is where it’s at, but don’t sacrifice style because you’re living in a condo that looks the same as your neighbors.  Go ahead, decorate or remodel, or both!   The sky is the limit if you put your creative hat on. 

Registered Interior Designer Lic # 5736, LEED AP
Chic on the Cheap