October 1, 2012

Big ideas help with small-space living

Calgary design expert Alykhan Velji presents homeowners with a Vancouver take on downsizing design


Small will take on new meaning at the 2012 Vancouver Home + Design Show when Calgary interior designer Alykhan Velji presents his highly imaginative, 300-square-foot condominium. And get rid of your preconceptions that diminutive has to be dull or monochromatic. Far from it, says the man who has met with flair and élan the challenge of living the good life while drastically downsizing.

This is the fourth Vancouver Design + Home Show appearance for Velji, who has made regular appearances on almost every major Canadian network. He has been honoured in Avenue’s Top 40 Under 40, was shortlisted for the Western Living Designer of the Year Awards and was named a Leader of Tomorrow by Business in Calgary.

Velji loves the challenge of creating stylish small spaces, showing top trends tailored specifically to condos, employing tricks of the trade for living light on space and heavy on style and revealing ingenious ways to visually expand the space. This year’s home show exhibit features 100 square feet of outdoor living area in a Vancouver setting, as well as a compact interior.

“City dwellers in places such as Vancouver, New York and Toronto find there is less and less space available to them. We automatically think of them living in tiny cramped spaces,” Velji says. “But my goal is to show people how to live stylishly in a small space. These solutions will enable both homeowners and renters to inject their own personalities into their own spaces, to incorporate a personal touch.”

He advocates open-concept areas in which the kitchen might open to living rooms and bedrooms. “I show how to differentiate, how to define the space. Use small, multi-functional pieces of dual-duty furniture; a desk that becomes a bed, seating arrangements that turn into a bed, or office furniture that transforms into a dining room area, all available at Vancouver’s Resource Furniture. When designing small spaces it’s not necessary to paint or accessorize with neutral, monochromatic colours, he says. “Pick light, airy materials and use lots of mirrors. It’s all about contrast. You don’t need to paint all light colours, but that’s fine as long as you contrast them with darker furnishings.”

Storage, of course, is of prime importance, Velji notes. “You can find whole stores dedicated to great storage solutions – space behind doors, different things you can do for shoe storage, and rather than having large drawers with a few socks in them you can break up the space to make it more effective.” It’s all about necessity and compromise, Velji explains. “People moving from the country or from bigger homes have to learn to purge, to cleanse as it were. And if you’re single, for example, a love seat should be fine; you don’t need a large sectional.”

Alykhan Velji will share his small-space tricks and tips Saturday, Oct. 13 at 4 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 14 at noon.

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