top of page

living large in a small
one bedroom apartment

top takeaways:

  • while you may need a dining table, but you may not need a designated dining room

  • plan your space BEFORE making any furniture purchases

Written by Danny Chan

Published Nov 14, 2023


Living large in small spaces is not just a catchy phrase, but it's a reality. We were particularly happy that this project was featured in the March 2022 issue of Westcoast Homes & Design magazine. But regardless, we still felt like a winner as our client loves his new home. Now in his retirement, he feels like he is living his best life yet .

how do you begin the design process?

We do not follow trends to create beautiful homes. We design them with our clients in mind. That is why our projects do not look like cookie cutter homes. So, we ask many questions before beginning the actual design. We take time to understand who our client is and what makes him/her/they happy.

This project was for a retired senior who relocated to a vibrant part of the city where there are lots of restaurants and cafes within walking distance. Our client doesn't cook and he seldom eats at home, so the question came up about whether he needs a dining room. Instead, we designed a formal living room for him to entertain his guests.

Chinoserie design apartment

why is space planning so important?

Before purchasing any furniture, it is of utmost importance to explore different furniture placement options FIRST. Consider what do you want to achieve the most out of this room. E.g. Do you have a favourite view?

After establishing a floor plan, then it's time to create a mood board. Do you want a formal atmosphere or a causal one?

3d Floor Plan of Happy Home Design

3-D doll house view

Happy Home Design 3-D Design

3-D design

Happy Home Design Moodboard


Happy Home Design 3-D Design

During the cold winter months, there is nothing cozier than sipping a cup of hot tea (or coffee) over a good book by the fireplace, which should then be the feature of the living room. To achieve this in this awkward floor plan, we custom made a display wall unit to house an electric fireplace and then filled the cases with his collection of memorabilia. We placed the sofa against the kitchen and then placed two club chairs across. This arrangement made the wall unit the focal point of the living room. It's worthwhile to note that coffee table can be transformed into a dining table for the rare occasions that he'd like to host a dinner party. Finally, we made the room feel bigger by using a large area rug along with a mirrored cabinet as a TV cabinet to reflect light back into the room.


Central Vancouver Island Nanaimo Interior Design Retirement Living


Chinoserie Condo Happy Home Design
Chinoserie Apartment Happy Home Design
Chinoserie Condo Happy Home Design
Chinoserie Condo Happy Home Design

how did you come up with the design concept?


As mentioned before, we design homes for people! While creating a profile for our client, we noticed the strong influence from both the Eastern and Western culture. We introduced the design style known as Chinoserie to him and slowly convinced him how beautiful his home will look (if you want to read more on the style, you may go to this article from House and Home magazine). But simply put, it's not a Chinese style per say, but a design style that mixes elements from the East and West seamlessly.

Chinoserie Happy Home Design
Chinoserie Happy Home Design
Chinoserie Happy Home Design
Chinoserie Happy Home Design

how do I transform a boring balcony into a beautiful and relaxing outdoor space?

In small condo living, a relaxing outdoor space is a premium space. If the space is carefully planned out, it can be beautiful even if it's small. The key is to create different zones for different activity. We want to give our client a formal garden feel yet keeping it relaxing at the same time. We started by laying some plastic floor tiles around the balcony, and we placed some faux grass tiles for more of a garden feel. Following this, we "planted" four structured boxwood topiary along the glass railing and added some white rocks around the perimeter. The final touches are adding the elements of water through sphere stand that flows water as well as fire from the table top fire place. And sticking with the Chinoserie theme, we placed a waist height Terracotta solider next to the drink stand.

Beautiful Balcony Happy Home Design
Beautiful Balcony Happy Home Design
bottom of page