Canada's Condominium Magazine

Go brave or go home bored: designing boldly for a condominium apartment: a colourful DIY case study that’s all about the details

Going brave when it comes to small spaces is the surest way to turn a “I like it” into a “I love it.” If you don’t feel like you “love it” when you step into your own condo apartment, it may be time for a self-help makeover.


Grayson Darren shows off an amazing makeover of a plain white apartment. With a big dose of “bravery” and some gutsy, creative self-help moves, Grayson and Elyse transformed their home into a designers dream.


As part of our new series, we’re scouting out amazing transformation apartments from various designers and homeowners and profiling them here as “case studies.” In this first case study from homeowners Grayson and Elyse Darren do it themselves — a video by Robeson Design.

With a large dollop of courage and an even larger helping of creativity, they transform a drab white apartment into a stunning home. The message — even with your own hands, a little bravery, some patience and hard work can transform your home.

“But it did take some time, ” Grayson explains. “We had a lot of ideas and big dreams, but the reality is, we’re on a budget. So what we have, we saved for, built, or — in some cases — gifted.”


The living room after, nicely pulled together with strong colour choices, an amazing single canvas, beautiful retro sectional and some home-made details


Small details and brave thinking

Not only did they go brave on colour and fixtures — they creatively used small, inexpensive tricks to really make their apartment stand out. Memorable details include:

  • cheap Ikea floor tile as a wall trim
  • a picture frame turned into a jewelry hanger
  • overhead kitchen cabinets ripped out to make way for a single hardwood shelf with hangers

Watch the full  video, or read our transcript below:

Partial Transcript

Before Segment

“Hey, welcome to the apartment.  So, it’s been a long time since I showed you our apartment (Editor’s note: the video is part of a series.)”

The living room BEFORE.


In the bathroom: “I don’t know what colour this is, but I want more.”

Out shopping: “Elyse and I had a ton of fun experimenting. Different styles, and colours! Sweet! Yeah!”
“We got ourselves a new sofa, and an actual bed, which is a huge step up from a mattress on the floor. Not much going on here yet. But at least I got a couple lights.


The dining room before. White walls, small space.


The dining room AFTER, with unique DIY treatments such as floor tile on the wall.


But it did take some time. We had a lot of ideas and big dreams, but the reality is, we’re on a budget. So what we have, we saved for, built, or — in some cases — gifted.

“We made a lot of progress. And, I’m excited to show you guys how it all turned out. So, without further ado…”


Grayson and Elyse.


After Segment

“Hey! I’m Grayson Darren and this is my beautiful wife Elyse and our baby Alaya. Welcome to our home!”

[Scenes of the home being gutted, drilling and painging, quick cuts.]

Sarcastically, “Now as you can see, a very dull, neutral colour palette. Not really.”


The ugly kitchen: BEFORE. Note the overhead cabinets, soon to be ruthlessly ripped out.


A stunning AFTER kitchen. Note the overhead hardwood shelf that replaced the overhead cabinetry. This opens up the space and view. 


“So, when you guys were last here, this room was completely empty. There was a kind of awkward sofa. We returned that and got this sweet new sofa! I like it! It’s kind of a grey-brown tufted. What I like about it most, it’s a little bit mid-century, so you have those awesome wooden legs, which is great for cleaning under, and it also lets light through.


Bedroom BEFORE.



Bedroom AFTER. Even small details like the citris lemon pillos and throw sharpen the room. Even with darker colour and a large bolstered bed, the room appears larger.



Lots of patience and DIY elbow grease was needed to make this project work on a tight budget.


Auberge on the Park-Tridel


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