Luxury-home designer Kelly Deck brings her signature upscale style (and sophisticated space-saving tricks) to a compact Mount Pleasant condo.
Kelly Deck doesn’t typically design condos. “Most of our work is the opposite,” says the designer, whose namesake firm specializes in 6,000-plus-square-foot luxury homes. But the task at hand for this one-bedroom redesign was to increase the functionality of just 600 square feet, and Deck’s personal philosophy guided the Mount Pleasant project: “If you can comfortably entertain six people, then you’re not sacrificing anything by living in a condo.”
Deck knew that the initial layout didn’t do the suite justice. She convinced the contractor to open up a huge section of the wall that divided bedroom from living area and stripped the kitchen down to bare bones. That left a harsh frame to work from. “The whole building is concrete; the floors, the walls—it looked like a bunker,” says Deck.
Kentwood flooring was the first thing to go in, leading a transition the designer describes as “hard and industrial to airy and enveloping.” Boundaries redefined and floors installed, the bedroom she had once described as “ridiculously large” was now an open-concept living area that spilled naturally out of the kitchen. But some sense of privacy was still needed between the bedroom and living room. “We finally came up with the idea of huge sliding screens,” she says. A custom powder coated aluminum frame was hoisted into the second-floor unit off the patio, and the simple doors—made of painted one-inch-by-two-inch slats—were built on-site.
Deck finally had a floor plan fit for a host, which meant setting her sights on the kitchen. The first priority, of course, was a table that sat six. Tucked in behind is a custom-built bench that faces the living room sofa to frame the far half of the unit. “The whole idea is that the spaces could work together or separately,” explains Deck. A clever wall panel hides a 60-inch smart TV mounted on the wall above—admittedly the most technical feature. “We had to get a television in a sealed closet and keep the overall dimension of the bench in line with the kitchen millwork,” she recounts. “We just kept saying, ‘It’s got to be possible.’”
In the heart of the kitchen floats a seven-foot island, where two Arper bar stools add even more seating and large drawers house each and every pot and pan—a surprisingly efficient use of space. In fact, storage isn’t an issue in the small suite, though Deck admits that “it wouldn’t be great for someone with 200 pairs of shoes.” Handle-free cupboards climb the length of two kitchen walls, opposed by a floor-to-ceiling closet used for seasonal clothes and luggage. “You just have to be willing to get on a step ladder to get some things down,” Deck says. She even converted a flex space—to the right off the entryway—into a walk-in closet. “We live in a city where people are paying a premium per square foot; you have to make every inch work.”
A smooth JMV Woodworks hood vent makes an undeniably strong first impression, and the eye wanders comfortably with thoughtful decorative touches—like Janaki Larsen ceramics and Provide pillows—subtly guiding your gaze.
As the project neared completion, Deck felt they may actually have been too successful in softening the space—it was missing a healthy tension. And so final accents were added (like an angular Livingspace floor lamp) to add structure, punctuation, even interruption. “It’s a blank canvas with some defined black lines,” says Deck. And the best part? Plenty of room for guests.
Kelly Deck's Small-Space Tips
1. Don’t get ahead of yourself. Consider the logistics before getting too far with your plans. Will your materials fit in the elevator? Through the door? Do you have enough space to build inside?
2. Add subtle shelving. Deck incorporated shelving into the sliding door track for the bedroom closet, adding space for decorative pieces that would be on display but out of the way.
3. Consider ergonomics. There’s no official desk space in this one-bedroom suite, so the dining room table had to serve double duty. “It’s perfect to work at,” says Deck, explaining that dimensions were chosen carefully for this very reason.
4. Question the rules. “Developers often miss an opportunity with floor plans,” says Deck, who took out a door and more than half of a wall to drastically open up the space and maximize its function.
5. Harmony above all else. “Focal points are tricky in a small space because you rarely get back from anything more than a few feet,” says Deck. Instead, she focused on general harmony so that everything felt unified from any angle or perspective.