There are many things to consider when purchasing an older condo, and one of the largest is how to make it your own by putting a personal decor stamp of style on it.

When the homeowner of this downtown condo purchased the dated space, it seemed the outdated and unchangeable finishes like stucco’ed ceilings, horizontal windows and parquet flooring could never become the urban and stylish home she had envisioned. Enter Toronto interior designer Jackie Di Cara. Her client was actually using a search engine on the Internet and found Jackie listed.

She knew as soon as she saw Jackie’s work that she had found all the help she needed to transform her outdated downtown condo into a cool, urban space.


Jackie’s practical and efficient furniture layout and thoughtful decorating ideas and tricks helped to make a dated space look like a super-stylish home.

She started by accessing the items that the client had already purchased for her new home — a new sofa, large ottoman, two new chairs and the small upright piano (a must-have in the new space).

She then got to work to create a home that fit all the client’s current items and made them feel like they had been part of the overall scheme from the beginning.

Living area

Low built-ins were installed under the horizontal window ledge to create much-needed storage and to serve as a display shelf for artwork and decorative items.

“The view was completely undesirable, so I used the old trick of bringing the focal point forward so the eye stops at an interesting painting or items, rather than looking outside,” she said.

Simple window treatments offer privacy and diffuse the view while still allowing light to flow into the living area. Not hanging drapery panels helped to keep a clean, modern feeling to the room.

Textured seagrass wallpaper creates an unexpected focal wall that grounds the heaviest piece of furniture, and also the piano. The texture of the grasscloth draws attention away from the texture of the stippled ceiling.

Jackie floated an open-backed chaise lounge in the open-concept space. It allows guests to sit facing the living area or kitchen. Another sofa could have been added, but its high back would have blocked the visual flow into the living area and made the space feel smaller.

A generous area rug ties all the furniture together in the living area, leaving the rest of the floor areas bare to show off the newly re-stained parquet flooring. A dark walnut stain colour gave the room a sophisticated feel and the much need change from the original golden oak colour.

Dining area

The dining area was a tough space to furnish. It’s the first thing you see when you enter the apartment and had a walkway through it that went into a bed and bath area. By grounding the offset table with a hanging light fixture and placing artwork, Jackie gives the illusion that the table was always meant to be offset in the space.

The alcove area was wallpapered in a geometric pattern in order to offer a modern vibe to the space and an old art deco chest was purchased to hold dining room accessories. It’s a great focal point when guests enter the condo.


Jackie kept the colour scheme very classic and restrained. Grey, cream browns with a hint of fashionable yellow and raspberry to make the room feel trendsetting.

The artwork is fabric that Jackie found while shopping for pillow fabrics, which she then framed and used as art.

The ottoman was a matching piece to the sofa but overwhelmed the room with too much grey, so Jackie reupholstered it and placed a large tray on top. Now it serves as a place to perch during parties, a comfy footstool and a coffee table too.

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