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This downtown Toronto bachelor pad is small but has big decor

Martin Greenaway, 28, had a wish list with several “non-negotiables” for his first home — a new condo.

He wanted a big sectional sofa that could accommodate an extra party guest or two (but not a sleeper sofa); a big TV; a king-sized bed; dining for five but something cooler than a regular table; a desk/office area; a place for his foosball table and space to hold tournaments; and a place for his two high-end racing bikes.

Martin Greenaway with his step-mom — and interior designer — MaryLynne Meschino, on one of his must-have furnishings: a big sectional sofa.
Martin Greenaway with his step-mom — and interior designer — MaryLynne Meschino, on one of his must-have furnishings: a big sectional sofa.  (Rene Johnston / Toronto Star)

The problem was that he had just 680 square feet to work with.

Greenaway, a recruiter with Feldman Daxon, had been in discussion with his designer MaryLynne Meschino, of Allegro Interiors, during the four years he waited to take possession of his bachelor pad. And her goal is to make clients feel completely at home.

Especially with this client — he’s her stepson.

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The sports centre, with Greenaway's bikes and foosball table, was created in a six-by-seven-foot nook in the condo.
The sports centre, with Greenaway’s bikes and foosball table, was created in a six-by-seven-foot nook in the condo.  (Rene Johnston / Toronto Star)

“Those things were important to him so they were important to me, as well,” says the Toronto designer. “I love him so much and wanted him to have everything he loves in the place.”

Located in a new building in the Queen St. W. and Spadina area, the condo is quiet while still being close to the busy Queen West vibe. He chose a $ 500,000 suite that was reduced $ 50,000 when he declined the parking spot. “I think if you’re really determined to save, and stick with that, and you live rent-free for a while, you can swing your own place,” says Greenaway, who able to amass the purchase funds by living at home, working a lucrative bartending job and not going away for vacations.

With stragegy and well-planned furnishings, the 680-sq.-ft. condo includes a living area, kitchen with sit-down dining counter and a credenza-desk that does double duty as a work area and entryway table.
With stragegy and well-planned furnishings, the 680-sq.-ft. condo includes a living area, kitchen with sit-down dining counter and a credenza-desk that does double duty as a work area and entryway table.  (Rene Johnston / Toronto Star)

Just 24 when he bought the one-bedroom condo, Greenaway purchased it pre-construction after analyzing the pros and cons with his father. “My dad convinced me to buy the most I could. It was only a $ 70,000 increase (over his initial choice),which wasn’t going to make much difference over the 30-year mortgage.”

When it came time to figure out how to live in his starter home and have the things he wanted, he turned to Meschino. About the challenge, she is sanguine: “There’s always a solution to these things.”

A dramatic blue wall anchors the king-sized bed that includes storage drawers since it leaves little floor space for dressers.
A dramatic blue wall anchors the king-sized bed that includes storage drawers since it leaves little floor space for dressers.  (Rene Johnston / Toronto Star)

His furnishings’ budget was originally $ 10,000 but Greenaway says he soon “realized things cost much more than I thought. And I like nice things. MaryLynne encouraged me to spend more on good quality such as the sofa and the solid wood pieces so I can take them to my next home. She also got me some great deals.” The total for interior and patio furniture plus barbecue — which he saved to buy for an additional year — came in at about $ 18,000.

Long before move-in, Meschino created a to-scale floor plan. They also picked the flooring and finishes. “I knew he liked greys and blues, so I picked a greyed wood floor to ground the place and, for the kitchen, lighter cabinets with dark grey counters and backsplash.”

Art pieces, including Greenaway's models, were curated around the big TV to lend a familiar touch to the all-new furnishings.
Art pieces, including Greenaway’s models, were curated around the big TV to lend a familiar touch to the all-new furnishings.  (Rene Johnston / Toronto Star)

Once construction was underway, she and Greenaway went to the site a few times to measure before ordering the custom sofa and the island. “You need to be careful doing a furniture plan from pre-construction floor plans,” she explains. “Sometimes things change in the building, and in space this small every inch counts — so verify those measurements before investing in furniture.”

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The biggest challenge was where to put the foosball and bikes. “Martin thought he would like to hang the bikes over the TV and I said you are not hanging those over the TV,” Meschino says. From that evolved the idea of a sports centre with the bikes hanging like artwork over the foosball table in the “media area,” which measured just six-by-seven feet on the floor plans.

The custom kitchen island includes storage in its base and the faux-leather stools are low-maintenance.
The custom kitchen island includes storage in its base and the faux-leather stools are low-maintenance.  (Rene Johnston / Toronto Star)

She also aimed for dual-purpose furnishings. The custom sectional was designed with two sides long enough for friends to occasionally crash on — they picked the largest one they could without overwhelming the space and leave a good 36-inch space between the sofa and kitchen island.

An island-as-dining-table gave Greenaway much-needed storage in the base and the “cool” faux-leather stools are low maintenance, Meschino says. “I tried to keep the busy bachelor life in mind and get things that were basically indestructible.”

A console table behind the sofa holds keys and other entryway paraphernalia while also serving as a desk for his computer.

Stylish lighting plays a role in creating atmosphere in Greenaway's home.
Stylish lighting plays a role in creating atmosphere in Greenaway’s home.  (Rene Johnston / Toronto Star)

The bedroom was large enough to take a king-sized bed but not much else — so Meschino chose one with storage drawers in the base. The wall behind the bed is painted blue to create drama and a large-feature light fixture creates a focal point in an otherwise fairly empty room. Lighting played a part in creating atmosphere and making the space work, she says. Large feature lights in the bedroom, but also the main area, “elevate the look to something special.”

With all-new furnishings, Meschino felt it important to include familiar items and created a feature wall of Greenaway’s collected art pieces around the huge TV. “There’s a big signed photo of the winning team, a picture of his grandfather’s truck, a framed photo of a young boy at a cottage — and he went every summer to the family cottage in Sudbury,” she says.

TORONTO STAR