In smaller condos, the living is large—and chic
by GAIL JOHNSON on FEB 21, 2013 at 3:23 AM
ANYONE TRYING TO get into Metro Vancouver’s housing market might be daunted by the fact that their savings and salary combined are only enough to land them a teeny condo. But two new developments prove that you can live large in little digs.
Take Appia’s SOLO District in Burnaby, a two-and-a-half-hectare complex with four residential towers, a central plaza, and shopping (including a new Whole Foods Market). Studios and junior one-bedroom suites max out at 489 square feet but feel much larger thanks to savvy design and details
“What makes this so different from so many downtown studios are the nine-foot ceilings,” says SOLO sales representative Sean Lin at the presentation centre on Willingdon Avenue just off Lougheed Highway. Distinguishing a studio from a one-bedroom (which both start at $279,900) is an optional, T-shaped partition that can separate the otherwise open space into a living room and bedroom. A built-in folding table that can be used as a computer desk or breakfast nook.
Also making the small layout so smart is the way the kitchen runs along almost the entire length of one wall.
“Most studios have a U-shaped kitchen, and you can’t do a lot in that kitchen space,” Lin says. “Having it against the wall allows you to walk around and gives you room for dining and entertaining.”
Plus, the Italian cabinetry that integrates the appliances into the design means they aren’t staring you in the face while you kick back on the couch. And there are no baseboards to contend with when fitting in your sofa, thanks to a central geoexchange heating and cooling system. Floor-to-ceiling windows allow light to pour in. Patios are generous enough to fit a table and two chairs on even the smallest SOLO deck, with room to move around.
“This is the smallest patio, at 70 square feet,” Lin says of the display suite’s deck. “Downtown, there are a lot of Juliet balconies. Why even bother?”Generous outdoor space is a big plus to buyers at Intracorp’s MC2 on Cambie Street at Marine Drive, right on the Canada Line. The smallest units are one bedrooms measuring 439 to 442 square feet (starting at $259,000), and most of the decks for condos this size are about 81 square feet.
“There’s the luxury of large decks,” says Tracie McTavish, president of Rennie Marketing Systems. “Having that large external space gives the feeling of having more room.”
MC2, which also integrates linear kitchens, didn’t have to dedicate a minimum amount of square footage to a separate storage area, typical in condo developments in the past. For a condo that’s not even 500 square feet, every extra square inch counts.
“These are very efficient floor plans designed by James K. M. Cheng Architects,” McTavish says. “All plans have the plumbing and mechanical systems on an exterior wall, so there are no ceiling drops or anything separating the room. It’s a clean, continuous space.” (MC2’s presentation centre is now closed because of construction, but it’s taking appointments and has models and floor plans available for viewing.)
Both MC2 and Solo offer full-size, energy-efficient, stacking washers and dryers as well as luxe touches like soaker tubs and polished-quartz countertops in the bathrooms and kitchens.
“High-end finishes make a big difference,” McTavish says. “When you don’t cut any corners on space, layout, design, architecture, and energy-efficiency, you have a really nice, really functional space.