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The downsizing process is challenging, and if the end result isn’t a new space that makes them happy, it can be a disappointing experience for your clients.

It can add to the stress if your clients have totally different ideas about how their new space should look and feel. But all is not lost, as this recent project designed by Red Barrinuevo illustrates. 

Barrinuevo is a property stylist on HGTV’s Hot Market and principal of Toronto-based Redesign4More.


The downsizers 


His clients, a couple in their 70s/80s, recently downsized to a 3,000-square-foot condo from a house about twice the size. The husband, who Barrinuevo describes as being more “old school,” was attached to a lot of expensive antique furniture and interesting fixtures in their old house, while the wife was ready to get rid of everything and start fresh with no more antiques.

Barrinuevo sat down with them to find out which furniture they really liked – the ones that make them smile every day. He suggested the rest of their furnishings go to their children or be put in storage, so they have the option to switch out pieces every year.

However, many items that made it to their “keep” list were too large or too “antique-y” for the new suite.

In order to blend the homeowners’ opposing styles, Red mixed antique items with a modern colour palette. Barrinuevo refreshed an old mirror with a new coat of paint, giving the vintage focal point a more modern and striking appearance.


Opting for a modern feel


He says you have to balance in order to take “the old to the now. You don’t want the whole place to feel old.”

So they opted for new furniture “infused with the traditional but with a more modern feel,” Barrinuevo says.

Their old chesterfields had curves and buttons. Instead of floral print fabric, he suggested they choose solid colour fabrics. Rather than wood legs, the living room sofa has glass legs to give it a more modern look.

His heirloom desk was put in the bedroom and paired with her floral chair. An antique mirror was hung above the fireplace, and another large one now graces the foyer.


The bedroom included the husband’s writing desk, which is a family heirloom. To blend the couple’s contrasting tastes, Barrinuevo paired with the wife’s floral chair. 


New home, same colours


Colours — mauves, pinks, purples and greens – that were used in their house were carried over to the condo, with the addition of black and white to make the space look younger, he says.

The husband plays the piano, but there wasn’t enough space for a grand piano, so he bought an upright instead. Barrinuevo placed it between the living and dining rooms, so it’s in the middle of the entertaining space.

Because they like to entertain, having a large dining table was high on the couple’s list. The house accommodated a table that seated 18 to 20 people, while the condo can accommodate 10. 

Another eating area in the kitchen offers more space to sit and enjoy a meal.


Art and light fixtures


Art and light fixtures were most important to the husband, so Barrinuevo incorporated art (including one piece from Germany that they had bought during their first year of marriage) into the husband’s new man cave/media room. 

The walls were painted dark grey to make the art pop, and art lighting was installed to add drama.

The husband wanted to incorporate an Italian chandelier from the house, but the light fixtures ended up being sold with the house. So he bought new ones that he loves. 

He spent $30,000 just on light fixtures, including a $12,000 antique Venetian chandelier for the dining room.

The dining room features an antique Venetian chandelier paired with a modern dining table.


“The same feeling”


Barrinuevo says he loved working on this project, the colours, the details and creating a design for today.

The end result? Barrinuevo says his clients love the space. “It’s not the same look as their house but has the same feeling. They love showing it to their friends. 

“The best part for me is that they said it makes them happy to wake up there every morning and to live in the beautiful space.”


Images in this article are provided by Red Barrinuevo.

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