Renovation & Design

Designing a dream rental unit

POSTMEDIA network inc. / Paul Chmielowiec/Consider the needs of your dream tenant when planning the design of your rental condominium.

QUESTION: A few years ago, we bought a condo that we've been renting as an investment. We'd like to renovate and rent it as a furnished space. Are there dos and don'ts when it comes to designing a furnished condo that will be rented? Many thanks.

ANSWER: There are definitely dos and don'ts. You'll want to consider the needs of your dream tenant, without being so specific with your design choices that you alienate good potential renters.

Like staging a home for sale, you want to remove personal furnishings, so people can envision themselves living in your condo. Pink chairs, nude art and bar carts are not in everyone's vision.

Like you, Susan Rogers of Susan Rogers Design Consulting (, who designed the fabulous living room in the photo, bought this condo with her husband, Scott, as an investment property. You can check out their fully furnished rental condo at

According to Susan, you will want to "appeal to a wide variety of tastes." She says a rental condo "shouldn't feel like it has been furnished with a hodgepodge of hand-me-downs, or an eclectic mix of rejects from previous design projects." The condo needs to feel like it was especially designed just for the tenant.

With this in mind, the layout of this condo living room uses one of my favourite furniture arrangements: two parallel same-size sofas. The look is ºber-chic; and, the setup, as in hotel lobbies, is great for conversation.

The apartment-sized sofas from EQ3 ( were chosen for their sleek lines and reasonable price. Plus, it's no mistake they are upholstered in a durable dark black-brown fabric. "The sofas are practical and comfortable and their colour is neither masculine nor feminine -- this was our mandate throughout the condo," Susan says.

In keeping with their mandate, the burnt-orange carpet was the inspiration for the condo's colour scheme.

The 9-by-12-foot carpet was bought 35 years ago for Susan's first apartment. "Buying a good-quality carpet will pay for itself over the years," she says.

The orange blends harmoniously with the floors and furniture. Plus, you'll also notice the living room is devoid of pattern. Not everyone is a fan of florals or stripes. In other words, steer clear of feminine colours and bold patterns.

Although they look brand new, the two chairs on either side of the credenza were purchased at Goodwill for $12 each and refinished to match the flooring.

The credenza is a quality piece from Shelter ( "Most small spaces lack adequate storage, (so) wherever possible, we added pieces that would provide plenty of storage," Susan says.

The credenza's wood-grained front references the floors, while its white matte-lacquer frame blends with the walls and works with the white convertible coffee-and-dining table.

Yes, you read that correctly. Push a release button on the side of the table's spring-loaded frame, and it will rise to dining height (or any height in between). The Mascotte dining table from Calligaris ( is a splurge, but "still less expensive than buying a separate dining table and chairs plus a coffee table," Susan says.

When pulling together your rental condo, it will be hard not to get too personal. Take your design cues from Susan and Scott, and you won't go wrong. None of the pieces in their space is an overbearing statement piece, but when used together, this condo makes a statement.


Send your small-space question to asksampynn.


Browse Homes

Browse by Building Type