Frustrated With Clutter? Tired of Bumping Into Furniture? I hear ya!

Before, I dig in to the material, I feel I need to address the questions of “what makes me different from other interior decorators with design experience?” This question kept popping up last week, mostly with new connections and real estate agents. Best way to answer is ….

….. I’ve been in the client’s shoes - several times.

When I say…..

  • “The most successful renovations are costed out ahead of time”

  • “For all decorating projects, a floor plan is required so we know what to purchase”

  • “I understand this process is stressful”

  • “We need to have a contingency plan.”

  • “The earlier we start the process, the better.”

  • “I understand you’re frustrated about the delays.”

…..I actually mean it.

I’ve been there. I know all about renovation stress and working with contractors. I’ve remodeled homes and sold them. This included condos so small that closets in modern homes are bigger. Small condo decorating isn’t easy, but I’ve decorated beautiful and functional executive suites. Even with the best laid plans, I know how costs can run away from you. A home improvement quote can be one number at the start of the project and a couple of thousands dollars more at the end. It’s why you need a contingency plan.

I know first hand the need to adjust expectations because the cost of a complete kitchen renovation will blow the budget out of proportion. I may have planned a complete condo renovation, but my investment in the project is urging me to make tough choices. All client briefs can be traced back to a personal experience in the world of interior decorating and design.

When I tell a client “I understand.”…. I really do understand.

Interior Decorating in Toronto

So let’s go through the decorating process. This would apply to a single family or multi-generational home, aging in place, downsizing, your rental apartment…. etc.

It’s Spring, the real estate market is about to swing into action. You don’t have to worry too much about the number of homes on the market. You’ve purchased your very own brand spankin’ new unit from the builder. Now, it’s move-in time. It’s not the largest condo unit in the GTA, but it’s a step on the home ownership ladder. You’re ready to make it home for the next couple of years, so you need to get the home design right. The goal is to create a stylish and functional living space.

Toronto Condo Floor Plan


Everything rests on those pesky details. At first glance, the generic builder floor plan looks really good. It boasts generous space to move around, a sectional, a table for four. It’s ideal for a city pad. Now…..scroll up and look at it again. Closely – this time…….. I’ll wait. It is impossible to recreate that floor plan with that furniture with those clearances in real life. Notice the actual measurements. The condo unit is not drawn to scale - it is significantly larger! The clearances between objects are approximately the depth of the living room!

Toronto Condo Floor Plan With Dimensions

Now what do you do? Measure the floor space and draw it out. Paper and pencil works well or grab the numbers and then plot them in one of the thousand free floor plan programs on the internet. You will also need to switch up the placement and type of furniture. In real life, you need an appropriate amount of room to move about. Clearance values are often overlooked, yet they can make or break a beautiful room. Bumping your toes on the bed frame every night won’t make for a restful start to the night. Knocking your knees on the coffee table when either sitting or getting up from the couch will become a frustrating experience for you and your guests.

Toronto Condo Floor Plan With Adjusted Dimensions

What you need to know - MEASUREMENTS

  • minimum of 18” between the couch and coffee table

  • a minimum of 36” for any type of passage

  • a minimum of 40” between kitchen cabinetry and island

  • a minimum of 36” between the wall and foot board

  • couch width - 30” = a great way to measure the coffee table size. It’s a ballpark # so you don’t go too big or too small.

Sometimes, it’s just impossible to reach the ideal clearances. A small space will always be a challenge. Here, the idea is to come as close as possible to the ideal without compromising the living environment.

So why change the furniture and placement? In one word - life. You have ……….. laptop, printer, phone, papers…..etc There is nothing in the builder plan to account for what happens every day. It’s a small condo therefore, very little room to add more furniture, so it’s double duty for just about everything. Did you have a quick look at your bedroom? There is no room for a dresser!

A place for everything and everything in its place

Storage issues abound here. Get the home design wrong and you are living in constant clutter. If you work from home a couple of days a week, you will feel the walls closing in on you. First point of order, build in some serious function before even thinking about wall colours or pretty pillows. I am going to digress here. I know you’re excited, but put the phone down or stop with the ‘interior designers Toronto’ searches on Google for a colour consultation. A colour consultation requires more than 4 walls to be in place – backburner for now.

Toronto Condo With Living And Dining Combo

What You Need To Know - The Details

  • Extendable kitchen table

  • Stack-able chairs (extra chairs stored in the closet)

  • Sofa deep and wide enough for overnight guests

  • Double or queen bed. A double bed will allow for a slightly larger bedside table

  • TV media combined with storage


One of the few times that size does matter :) The walls are fixed elements therefore, there isn’t much you can do about them. What you can affect is the size of furniture and accessories you bring in. Reality check here – it’s going to get frustrating. The sofa you covet might be too big. The kitchen table you’ve been eyeing for months might be too big. What you envisioned is not going to happen. Or maybe it will – just on a smaller scale. Be open to the possibilities.

What You Need To Know - SIZES

  • Sofa - 35”D x 82”W x 32.5”H

  • Coffee Table - 20”D x 47.5”W x 17.5”H

  • Area Rug - 60”x96”

  • Table - 47.25L x 31.5”W x 29.5”H

  • Chairs - 19.25”W x 20.5”D x 31.5”H (17.75”H seat height)

  • Bed - 84.5”D x 63.5”W x 52”H

  • Bedside Table - 15.5”D x 21”W x 23.5”


We’re going outside the box with 20”H wall hung IKEA kitchen cabinetry in varying sizes to fill that wall. Each cabinet can serve a very specific purpose to keep clutter at bay.

Materials And Finishes

Pssttt……now’s the time for wall colour! Preferably with paint samples in the unit


Now for the fun part – window shopping. Who sells what you’re looking for and does it fit your budget. This creates a running list of shopping destinations, a budget and keeps you from running around the GTA looking for ‘stuff’. If on the other hand, shopping is about getting together with girlfriends for some retail therapy, have fun. Just make sure you have the measurements and materials and finishes options with you.

If you have cherished items from a previous home, you’ve measured them and are keeping them in mind as you’re building your interior design concept. You want a holistic approach to this exercise so everything works thoughtfully and seamlessly together.

Living Room Main Wall

Living Room Main Wall

Living Room Media Wall

Living Room Media Wall

I’ve been having some fun with materials and finishes that are widely available to the public right now. The selections are bold and feminine. They don’t appeal to everyone, but there is a feminine girly-girl out there who would love this design concept. Remember though, this article was meant to illustrate the steps required to get to a successful interior decorating end result. And who doesn’t like to have a little fun from time to time?

If you loved what you read, but can’t imagine actually devoting that much time and effort into decorating a room or a house, Kalli George Interiors is here. Spring is heralding renewal. Let’s see how we can work together to renew a room or your home.