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A Waterfront Condo Reimagined by Picnic Design


Using shape and colour, the Toronto design studio transforms a dated condo into a serene family home

Sometimes staying put is the best option. When a young couple with two children was looking to improve their living situation, they realized they didn’t need to move at all. Their waterfront condo would continue to suit them perfectly if only a few tweaks were made. It made sense financially to renovate the condo, plus, they had grown to love their magnificent view of Lake Ontario, the Harbourfront, and Toronto Islands.

“They had a decent size condo to work with, about 1,000 square feet, two bedrooms plus a den,” says Picnic Design principal Eric Martin who worked on the project with partner Joanne Lam. The main challenge in renovating was creating a feeling of space while giving the busy family the storage they desperately need. Upgrading finishes and cultivating an elevated aesthetic were done on a tight budget, which speaks to the ingenuity of Martin and Lam. Space planning and the right choice of materials netted the family a home that’s as functional as it is beautiful.

The studio used track lighting to move power around the kitchen as the condo had junction boxes preset into the concrete. Flooring, Relative Space; cabinet panels, Weston Premium Woods.

“The kitchen is typically the hub, and here, it became literally the centre of the home,” says Martin. Previously, the kitchen had been configured in a C-shape and was basically a dead end. One person in, one person out. It blocked the space from the rest of the condo, physically and energetically.

Kitchen reno

The bulkhead was updated into a bold white form, which, says designer Eric Martin, “makes a brow for everything that comes beneath it. It’s a cap vertically for the end of the kitchen and for the entrance to the vestibule.” Backsplash tile, Stone Tile.

To remedy the tight squeeze, Martin and Lam used a triangular island as a touchpoint in the room, which also effortlessly guides traffic. “We created an island and turned it 30 degrees, so that two sides of the triangle align with the corners of the kitchen. The third side follows you from the entrance to the dining area and if you stop beside the island, it’s a bar that faces the main kitchen. They can now face their guests and it’s very comfortable,” he says.

Dressing the island are vertical white-oak slats that give the space a sophisticated look while adding texture and warmth. Topped with white quartz, the palette is fresh and livable.

condo bathroom Picnic Design

Picnic Design specified a slot above the shower for an LED strip from Richelieu, which gives the feeling of natural light coming through a skylight. Porcelain tile, Stone Tile; shower head, controls, Rubi.

The second item on the couple’s must-have list was a luxurious ensuite bath. If they were planning to stay in the unit for another 10 years or so, they wanted a spa-like retreat. Martin and Lam set about designing a spa bath and a well-lit walk-in closet with custom mirrors. “It’s not a dark place, which is very common with walk-ins,” says Martin, who paid special attention to the colour temperature of the lighting throughout.

“Overall, an open-space mandate in the shared areas was to make it more inviting for guests and more comfortable for themselves — a more presentable, social place with higher-end finishes, all without breaking the bank,” he says.

The TV only required 9 inches depth, which left 12 inches of storage behind it. A concealed, but easily accessed, drawer hides the owners’ work items off hours.

Millwork wraps around the kitchen to create a multi-purpose wall that is both a home office (with hidden storage) and an entertainment area for the family’s TV and books etc. By linking the kitchen and living room visually, the condo feels more spacious. “We created an interior landscape that follows from the kitchen to the living room with a massing that’s all one colour,” says Martin. “Within that, we created pockets that are articulated with flashes of different material — white oak or tile.”

Reno Toronto

Herringbone porcelain tile offsets the oak slats used in both the entryway and kitchen of the waterfront condo.

Vital to making the condo work for a family with two young kids was the transformed vestibule, which now offers a coat closet, shelving, a bench to sit and put on shoes, along with a concealed kitty litter box.

Waterfront condo renovation

Storage and integrated lighting were considered in each nook of the condo. In the entryway, a stone ledge leads the eye from the entryway to the kitchen and houses a catch-all drawer and spot for keys.

Waterfront condo renovation

The 1,000-square-foot condo has sweeping views of the lake and Toronto Islands.

By focusing on the key issues faced by the family and prioritizing both ample personal and social space (plus, storage!), Picnic Design was able to deliver a unique waterfront condo fit for any busy family.



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