June 29, 2012
They say good things happen in threes. That was definitely the vision interior designer Belinda Albo had when she along with architect Alex Rubb, decided to convert a one-bedroom + den condo into a glamourous three-bedroom residence. With a complete reconfiguration of the 1,250 sq. ft. space, the entire renovation took a mere three months to complete – and that was with condo restrictions that only allowed them to do work between 9 am and 5 pm during the week with increased limitations over the weekend – a time frame only a pro could achieve. The result is a luxurious suite with two additional boudoirs that seamlessly blend into the whole.
I met with the Winnipeg-native designer and veteran Toronto house flipper — she has been successfully flipping properties for 10 years — for a personal tour of the newly renovated condo. While we waited outside the suite a few moments waiting for an agent to finish showing the condo to prospective buyers, Albo begins to describe her design approach to this latest house-flipping venture, “We didn’t do typical things.” For instance, most renovations start with new hardwood flooring. She didn’t go that route and opted to use large format 24 by 24-tiled porcelain floors instead. “It’s a pet-friendly and easy-to-clean alternative,” she assures me. Even still, this is Canada – not some southern European villa – and I couldn’t fathom a home in the northern hemisphere without some presence of hardwood. Yet upon entry, I was struck by the glamourous touches such as the unique lighting fixtures that mirrored the high-gloss floors making the space sparkle. And my predisposition for the warmth of hardwood? She successfully offset the coldness that porcelain floors give off by carpeting all the bedrooms which warmed up the space and upped the cosy factor.
“We wanted to do something unique, that has quality but is still youthful and fresh,” says Albo. “We also wanted the space to feel like a luxury hotel suite.” Mission accomplished. A self-confessed frugal designer who takes pride in finding deals, and making better use of space, she chose the 25-year-old building located in the heart of North York for this design challenge of making three-out-of-one because of the spaciousness of the rooms. “We wanted a concept where value meets luxury, and most three bedroom units would have been a lot more expensive than our unit.”
In every renovation, there are surprises and Albo casually chalks it up to the learning process which inevitably sharpen her problem-solving skills. She created an interesting wall feature in the dining room with drywall and textured wallpaper in order to drop the ceiling and resolve the concrete ceiling issue in condo buildings which impede installing light fixtures. The perfect marriage of art and function results in a stunning architectural detail.
“Design is a process and the process is an evolution,” says Albo. She advises to not be too rigid with your design ideas and to just have fun with the journey. Inherent in any creative process, once the project reaches completion, as this Beecroft condo has since it is on the market, this savvy house flipper is already thinking of future prospects where she can leverage her talent on the next resale venture. The cycle will inevitably start up again once that SOLD sign gives her the green light to design and conquer.