When CJ de Jong, a librarian at the University of Alberta, opted to move from his house in MacEwan to a condo closer to the downtown core, he struggled to find a space in which he could truly see himself.
“I was looking for a space that I could still feel like I could live in, that’s similar to a house – I found a lot of the condos were like these typical boxes,” says de Jong. When he first saw the more unusual space, he was instantly sold, despite the dated decor.
“I was like – yeah, this is it, even though it was a 1980s building with 1980s decor – the seashell sinks, the flower patterns,” said de Jong. He saw potential in the space, but just wasn’t sure quite how to transform it into the modern style he preferred – so he called up Karolin Metivier, interior designer at KM Designs.
“When I get called on to do a design, it’s always because there’s a problem or there’s a style issue,” says Metivier. “For me, it’s pretty easy to get a vision of what it could look like.” In this case, it involved addressing the dated decor and several layout issues that weren’t quite working. One of the major renovations involved tearing down two walls in the kitchen and swapping the U-shaped kitchen – complete with a retro pass-through window – for a sleeker, more space efficient layout.
Another major style issue was the original metal and wood railings upstairs. “It just felt like you’re in a prison because it’s got all those spindles. So, I wanted to open it up and put in the glass, and to just completely change the look and the feel,” says de Jong. The clean lines of the black railings paired with the glass panels highlight the space’s unique walkway and architectural details. “We couldn’t appreciate the architecture the way it was done before – the big open space, the tall ceilings,” says Metivier.
With Metivier’s help, de Jong also incorporated a few statement pieces into the space, such as the two-storey lighting fixture with green and blue cords that hangs above the dining room table, but is also visible from the upstairs living room. “Sometimes, a designer will play more with things, with colour, with lighting, design, texture, whereas I would have been much more rigid – this is normal, this is what people do, right? Bringing in a designer really adds playfulness, it gets you out of that box,” says de Jong.