By Carolyn Son and Sylvia Son
Many people decide to buy a house or a condominium based on their experiences with model homes. Models showcase not only the perks of a house, but also add a level of personality to the otherwise standard rooms and help buyers imagine themselves in that home.
Model homes are independent and furnished prototypes of what finished houses should look like. While on display, a good interior designer is often as important as a good builder in getting a house sold.
Builders and vendors employ some of the top interior design companies in the GTA to work on their model homes. Some well-known names include Anna Simone, co-founder of Cecconi Simone Inc. and Oni One; Brian Gluckstein, a frequent guest on CityLine and the name behind Gluckstein Homes at the Bay; and Alex Chapman, who is a part of the governing board of the Association of Registered Interior Designers of Ontario.
Interior designersare often free to pursue their own artistic instincts, although they are under contract by the construction company and limited by practical considerations. As Brian Gluckstein says, "I love designing model suites because I am given creative license to do whatever I want."
What can you find in a model house when it's finished? In the hands of a talented interior designer, you should open the door and step into the middle of a scene. A grand piano in the distance implies that an elegant party is about to begin. In the kitchen, a tray is laid out with hors d?oeuvres. Down in the basement is a table that seems perfect for your weekly poker games. A good designer gives no confusing or jarring messages. For instance, you'll never see a mounted moose head in the middle of a zen garden.
As with art in galleries, model homes have a set date for display, which can be anywhere from six months to a year. But while they are on display, they are probably some of the most practical and beautiful pieces of art in the GTA.
With a model suite, the challenge for an interior designer is discovering what will appeal to people in the small space they're given in a showroom.
For Alex Chapman, a condo with distinct divisions between rooms can be made to appeal to conservative customers. The rooms can be tailored along traditional lines with muted colours and conventional pieces of furniture. Richer, more vivid colours and abstract pieces of art are reserved for a condominium where the rooms blend into each other in a loft-like manner.
Model suites are elegant, so it's no wonder buyers frequently pick up ideas when arranging their own condos. If you see something that you like, don't be afraid to ask the builder about it because the only way you might be able to get it is by letting the designer know that there is a demand.
Cecconi Simone Inc.'s design line at Oni One started because of the company's work with model suites. Anna Simone's furniture was specifically made to meet the challenges involved in designing for small models. Finding it difficult to locate attractive pieces of furniture that would work in 450 square feet of a showroom, Cecconi Simone began to create what they needed. Initially, these pieces were one-of-a-kind objects made only for the models they occupied, but the company decided to make them available to the public after people started asking for them.