Is Toronto a Beige Town?

by Jason Cass

What do you do when your college era futon, a new black leather sofa and an old frying pan are the sum total of your household possessions?

You moved into your new condominium after labouring with the sofa in the elevator and squeezing it through the front door. The sofa found its home – plopped down right in the middle of the living room. Somehow the frying pan found its natural habitat on top of the stove and the futon you haven’t re-assembled resembles a mattress on the floor of your new bedroom. Ah – it’s already starting to look just like your old rental apartment, right down to the beige walls.

How do you make your new condo a home? The first step in the decorating process is a little self-analysis. What do you want to say with about yourself with your new home? Are you young, hip and contemporary or traditional with an appreciation for antiques and soft furnishings? Are you a person who likes to live with colour or do you prefer a sophisticated palette of tone on tone shades?

The next step is to grab a few shelter magazines from the many available on the market and a stack of Post-It notes. Tag the images in the magazines, which appeal to you most, focusing on wall colour and room layouts. Review these images or even tear them out of the magazines and compile a file of rooms you like.

As all new Condominiums come with a beautiful shade of beige on the walls, the next step is the easiest – make your mark with colour. Many new condominiums come with a fantastic view of the waterfront or skyline. Beige walls really don’t do these views justice. The colour that is supposed to recede actually draws attention to the walls rather than framing the view.

Often new home owners have a beautiful view seek they wish to highlight. When they seek colour advice from Farrow & Ball we direct them toward strong neutrals, such as a brown taupe called Mouse’s Back for their living room and dining room walls. Most of a new condominium is window – not wall. Paint the right on the wall and the view comes alive. In a contemporary environment you then may choose to paint the trim the same colour as the walls while a traditional decor usually has the trim in an off white such as New White.

Don’t forget to highlight those upgraded kitchen cabinets you specified with a complementary colour, such as Picture Gallery Red. The red will not only define the open concept kitchen space but will work wonders with those new maple Shaker Style cabinets so many of us have. The beige makes them drab and the red makes them fab.

With the living room and dining room walls painted, pick a focal point for the room. Don’t face the furniture inward so you are looking at walls. Didn’t you just pay thousands of dollars for a view? Arrange your furniture so that you can see that view. Who wants to look at walls when you can see a vibrant ever changing city right before your eyes?

The secret to updating your bathroom is choosing a colour which complements your skin tone. Take a hint from the colour of the clothes in which you look best. If it is a bright blue shirt that sets off the colour of your eyes, then use bright blue on the walls. This is a fail safe way of always looking your best as you prepare to meet the day.

The final step is tackling the dreaded futon room. Grow up! Throw out the futon and head off to The Bay and purchase the best box spring and mattress that you can afford. Pop into the Linen Department and purchase one of House & Homes Signature Collection sheet sets and a new duvet cover. Paint your walls Skylight, a watery light blue and give your old dresser a coat of Mahogany paint. Step back and you will have the newest hotel chic bedroom in your tower.

This may seem like a lot but it really is just the basics. Try and stay away from trends. Trends date and you don’t need a dated home.

Congratulations on your new condo. Think outside the beige box, be a little adventurous and make it your home.

Jason Cass is President of Farrow & Ball Canada, and Host of One House, Two Looks on HGTV Canada

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