Laying down the layout basics

Breaking down what makes a good layout is hard. People have different ideas of what is desirable and what is and isn't worth losing space over. I'm going to take six difficult layout choices and try to justify a logical answer to what is worth your buck and what makes for a wasted investment. I realize this can greatly differ based on what space we are looking for, so to make this easy and relevant lets take an attached property in the Vancouver area. This keeps the target broad enough to apply to ... well almost any home in the downtown core, it could be old or new, first floor to thirty first floor and takes external values out of the picture, like a stunning view or how many parking spaces are included.

1.    Let’s start simple, the bathroom.
Shower, tub or both?

Since housing prices are only going up many families are opting for a more distance location compared to the central core. The lifestyle of an apartment dweller in Vancouver seems to be fast passed and doesn't always hold time for the tub, plus most buildings have pools or sauna anyways.

I’m giving this one to the shower only option.

2.    The living room.
Box style layout or a unique selling feature?

Dramatic angles and curves may look sexy but are a nightmare for furniture placement, leading to wasted space and can in some cases loose the appeal of a buyer, so for that reason I feel square is the right call. Mind you if every apartment was box style then the few with those unique features would be treasured but for our cost principle, I’m calling it.

Box style!

3.    With only one walled window-suites, where should the sunlight go? Bedroom, bathroom or Living space?

The location of windows in a unit can make or break a space, it’s always more attractive to have windows in all the bedrooms and is a proven fact that natural light increases the resale value of the unit. However, most units see the majority of its use in the living room. So when choosing a layout, look for window space that lets sunlight into as many rooms as possible.

A layout with windows split between living space and bedroom space is going to make for the best investment, even if it limits the size of the room.

A wide or narrow unit?

Both styles have their benefits; a narrow unit tends to keep the washer/dryer’s noise away from conversation areas and public bathroom out-of-view from living room/kitchen seating. While a wide unit offers more window space and caters to an open concept design better.

There is no right or wrong answer here but based on current trends, open concept styling is in and so is the wide unit. 

Where on the floor should I choose my unit to be?

One aspect that is often overlooked when choosing your unit is the actual location of the unit within the floor plan. A unit within close proximity to the elevators can prove to be very frustrating as noise levels tend to be high. This brings me to my next little piece of advice. Stay away from the garbage shoot! Many purchasers have been disappointed to learn that once they have moved into their condo they are constantly bothered by the sound of the garbage falling down the chute. This has proven to be a larger problem for residents on lower floors especially when the garbage shoot runs behind their laundry room, which they typically do. Always ask your sales representative to show you the unit location within the entire floor plan.


6.    Big Closet, little closet?

When looking at the pros and cons of storage space to living space there is no formula to tell you 5% or 10% of total space is enough. When it comes to a bedroom closet, is it worth trading a walk-in for an extra storage room? Or an open entrance way compared to one with a coat closet.

An efficient developer will ensure that there are no hollow walls and wherever possible will use built-in wall storage as a space saver. Walk-in closets are great but it’s not worth sacrificing the precious space from an already cramped bedroom, keep the master as big as possible. One way developers are working with small spaces is connecting the bedroom and bathroom with the walk-in and within the walk-in, a pocket door directly to the laundry room. Smart guys!


To find a suite that matches your needs takes time. Identifying what necessities are on your checklist and understanding with limited space comes limited options, however with a good developer, resourceful storage ideas and a good REALTOR to help you along the way you can always find what you need in the smallest of spaces.

  • Square or rectangle rooms, wide layout with windows allowing light into as many rooms as possible, sacrificing a tub, efficient storage space ideas and good placement on your floor will all help for a more desirable place to live and sell. 

 The Tridel Group in Toronto has a very unique three-bedroom 822 square foot layout. What is so unique about this layout? So much! It is a perfect example of how design and technology has created livable smaller units. One of the most amazing aspects of this unit that there are no interior bedrooms; in fact, each bedroom has a window.

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