Canada's Condominium Magazine

Designer Nike Onile transforms a 464 square foot condo into a place “I would love to call home.”

With the move towards “vertical living” in Toronto, there’s also a need to “think small.” Especially for singles or couples — who might opt to buy under 500 square feet for their first home — innovative design thinking is a must.

This week’s design case study is from Nike Onile. Profiled on Cityline, this transformation is a masterful example of redecorating small space to look elegant and sophisticated on a reasonable budget.


A small 464 square foot one bedroom condo is transformed with smart planning and design. Livingroom before and after.


The basic box: living room, master bedroom, open kitchen

When you first walk into this tiny 464 square foot apartment it appears small. Empty apartments actually do appear smaller than well-thought-out furnished suites. The walls are stark grey-white, storage is minimal, and the door to the corridor opens right into the open-concept kitchen. As you can see (from the photo, and video below), the suite has clean cabinetry and a very nice floor, but is otherwise in need of some sharp design thinking.

Full Cityline video of the transformation, with walk through by Nike Onile:


Here’s the starting point:

  • first-time home buyer couple
  • only 464 square feet
  • 60 square foot balcony (off the bedroom rather than livingroom)
  • has lovely modern cabinets in kitchen


Nike enters the condo. The corridor door enters right into the kitchen, typical of smaller condos.


  • nice backsplash
  • “delicious” floors (chocolate brown laminate)
  • the living room is tiny (almost the same size as the bedroom): the owner wants it to function as a reading room, office, entertaining room, and a place to meditate.
  • one sliding door closet in the bedroom
  • entrance to patio from the bedroom: should not be blocked to allow traffic during social gatherings
  • one closet in the hallway

Before and after kitchen. Nike choose a “matching wood” island to make it “visually disappear.

What Nike did

As always with any small space, wall colour is critical. Nike painted the wall a warm grey colour, which opened up the space and made it more inviting. The bigger recommendations that she implemented were:

  • furniture that blends in to minimize the visual space: for example a glass coffee table that “disappears” into the floor and a kitchen island with the same wood as the floor — also designed to “visually disappear.
  • fewer, but larger pieces of furniture: it may seem counter-intuitive, but Nike says one or two big pieces are less cluttered than a number of small pieces: one big couch and chair, instead of three or four smaller chairs, for example.
  • removing doors from built-in cabinets to “open up the space”
  • a single, striking light fixture as a highlight


Nike’s details included painting the television mount wall charcoal black to make the dominant screen disappear visually.


The key tactics  included:

  • an innovative island in a colour that matches the floor (to help it “visually disappear” — on wheels with slide out extension counter space hidden away
  • large feature items (light, couch) with minimal small clutter
  • dark wall to mount the dark-screen super-size TV; this helps make the too-dominant television disappear.
  • hidden “desk” in a shelving unit with a small, discrete backless chair
  • a sleek “wrap-around” cabinet envelopes the bed, tripling the storage space. Nike leaves off some of the doors (used for display of art) to give a feeling of space.
  • modern lacquer finishes
  • amazing pull out giant storage drawers under the bed.


Before and after bedroom. The wrap-around sleek laminate storage unit increases storage space and adds a sophisticated look to the small room.


Auberge on the Park-Tridel


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