We're all living in condos, now. We're each doing the ecologically friendly and politically proper thing by single-handedly densifying the downtown core. "Home" ownership is rising as fast as builders can churn out concrete and install a gym. At this point, almost everyone under 40 has jumped into the condo pool, and the banks love it.
Now, we all have our own grand total of 595 square feet of prime A-1 downtown real estate.
And just how are we supposed to actually live in such a small space?
Roomy Interiors says they have the answer. And for a certain consideration, they'll manage the whole setting-up process for you from their tastefully hip little shop.
O.K., so they basically sell furniture. But it's not just furniture. This furniture comes with ideas pre-installed. It's a Space Management philosophy complete with a slogan or three, like "Fall in love with your space", or "Comfort", or "Fresh, Free and Functional".
But behind the attentive salesmanship and slick presentation, there's definitely a demand for this sort of niche-market business. I do mean "niche": these people know how to maximize the use of every tiny little space in a condo, and they want to share this insight with you and make you happy.
They even have package deals. For a sweet $15,000, they'll sell you the Bachelor package: it's everything you need to deck out your pad plus you get 10 hours of design. Start trying to design for more space, though, and Mr. Wallet starts to lose weight awfully fast.
Their little storefront is a testament to their obsession with good space usage. It's hard to believe they could cram so much into such a small space and make it seem oh so much bigger than it actually is.
Fair warning, of course: This sort of top-drawer service doesn't come super cheap. In this case, the more space you save, the more cashola you spend. IBut it starts out just fine. A two-hour consultation at your place will cost you $250; it'll be $200 if you do it in the store.
It was crazy busy on a Tuesday morning when I went. Apparently, this is pretty normal. There was a successful consultation going on, and the phone rang more or less off the hook. They've been here for 3 years, and given how busy they are, they have to know what they're doing.
They do lighting plans, space plans, and storage plans. Did I mention they were also interior designers? They can help you pick just the right tone of taupe for the master bedroom when they're not busy making sure you can still fit into the bedroom with all that new furniture they've just sold you.
All of this furniture is for condos, so there's a lot of glass and steel to go along with the concrete walls these days. There's a good bit of plastic, too, like the plastic dining chairs. They were both cool and comfy, though I don't know how they'll hold up if dinner parties get exciting
The owners do seem to bag a few great ideas. Take the coffee table that lifts up and extends into a dining table, for instance. It's made in Italy, and for all that crazy space-making, it's only $1100.
They have collections of photos for you to peruse with pictures from projects past and of furniture not present any more.
Absolutely everything has storage. The beds all lifted up to reveal enough space to store small bodies or a heck of a lot of pillows. The benches naturally have all kinds of storage space. I was surprised that the mirrors didn't have storage hidden somewhere.
If you don't want to clean out Ikea, Roomy also has closet interior organizers, too, though not quite at Ikea prices. Their Anton unit was $4300, but it was made in Canada and looked a lot swishier than anything I've seen at Ikea.
There's very little gimmicky stuff, with one notable exception - the $160 "time table".
My keen eye spotted one reassuring detail that I'm pretty darned picky about - the sofas are properly made. They're made in Canada, and seem to be custom work, so the quality is impressive. The prices are relatively standard (a sectional sofa was going for $4300), and I couldn't sniff any deals on the wind, but at least you know the thing will fit in your condo.
The Jully wall bed is a good enough Murphy bed and seems pretty well-made. Passage on this bed goes for the standard fare of $2000 for a double, plus the mattress at $400-500. It's odd how this price doesn't fluctuate much around the city, even though every shop seems to carry a different manufacturer. In any case, Roomy's version of the hideaway bed was as good as most, and obviously fit pretty neatly into the whole "cool things to do with my tiny little den" space solution.
There's some interesting wall lighting, made in Canada, though there was a lot less than I was expecting. There was a good amount of mirror-space, which fits into the whole making-small-spaces-seem-bigger worldview. The Pop-style art on the walls is bright and colourful, which is good, given that most condos have bare white walls or concrete. Batman and Robin was selling for a cool $1200.
If you've got the cash, and you don't have any room, this is a better destination than most. Don't expect much in the way of variety. It's all modern in here. That said, if it's modern ultra-compact you're after, these people will help you out.