Posted by: Daryl & Wendy Ashby | April 5, 2011

Designing for the View

We have sold a number of  new highrise condos that offer amazing views. A number have clear views of the skyline and often two of the four walls are windows. The question comes, “How do you design a living room with this wall of windows?”

The fact is, some people are ‘wowed’ by scenic mountain views that back drop both Victoria and Vancouver, others are wowed by the vast fields of the Prairies, but my personal favourite view has always been a city skyline. There is something about being able to see the peaks of buildings and how these peaks form an overall shape that amazes me! City skylines are like fingerprints, since each is unique. A New York City skyline is different from a Toronto skyline and that of Victoria’s where a large number of the buildings predate the 19th century; regardless even at the slightest glance, most anyone can tell them apart.

Designing a space with such a wonderful city skyline view can be a great adventure. The traditional rules of design still apply to this type of space, but some alterations are necessary. Here are a few things to keep in mind when designing this type of space.

1. The view seen from the space is a feature in the room. When choosing a colour scheme, furniture, and accessories, it’s important that you look at design elements that blend well with your view.

2. Unlike a traditional living room, your colour scheme will alter drastically from day to night. As two of your four walls are made of windows, the blue colour of the daytime sky will complement your wall and accent colours differently than the nighttime view. When choosing your wall colour, I suggest you paint a small piece of cardboard with your chosen wall colour and hang it on the wall. Analyze how well the colours go with the different skyline colours and how these complement each other at different times in the day. You might love the look of the colour paired with the daytime skyline, but hate the colour when paired with the nighttime skyline. The key is to experiment with different colours and see which works best with all the skyline-view variations.

3. Neutral vs. bold colours. A skyline is filled with vivid colours, from the blues of the sky to the greenery of trees in nearby parks. The rule of thumb is to choose a neutral wall colour when working with large walls of window. Many highrise condos even go as far as to use white as their neutral colour. A neutral colour on your walls will accentuate the colours in your skyline view. It has been said that when buying a highrise condo, you pay for the view, therefore, when designing this space, ensure your view looks like a million dollars!

4. Designing a higher-end estate is about being eclectic. Each piece should be carefully chosen, with many being from your travels. Other accessories should come from boutiques, not big-box stores, so your condo doesn’t look like every other home in the neighbourhood. Most pieces in the space should have a story and a personal sentiment attached to them.

I love this type of design, simply because it is centralized around the personalization of the space. The designer and homeowner work hard to make the view part of the space, while adding a personal look and feel.


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