An important professional challenge of mine earlier this year was decorating and creating a furniture layout plan for a 398 square foot show suite inside a new development in Surrey, BC.  I was hired by the developer’s marketing company to decorate and set up a display suite to show potential buyers how the unit could be furnished.  

My goal in furnishing the 398 sq ft display suite was to show potential buyers how they could have a complete living space within a single 398 square foot room. My reward at the end of that exciting and challenging process was winning the gold award in the “Homestaging” category of the Canadian Decorators’ Association’s (CDECA) now called DDA, annual Decorating and Design Competition.  

DDA is a national organization of accredited interior decorators and designers of which I have been a member of since 2008.

The Decorating and Design Competition’s awards luncheon was held in Toronto on April 14, 2014. I was able to fly to Toronto to attend the ceremony and receive my gold award from a representative of the “Homestaging” category’s sponsor, Speers Flooring.

Gold award win in CDECA decorating competition
Receiving design award from award sponsor Speers Flooring representative.

The design process

The design process took about three months to plan. It involved connecting with local vendors, sourcing furniture and accessories, and then figuring out the layout for the furniture. I needed to show the potential future homeowners that they could have their bedroom, living space, dining table, workspace and kitchen all in one room.  No “small” task!

Gold award win in CDECA decorating competition
Ultra 398 sq ft bachelor suite furnished by Urban Aesthetics

I sourced the furniture, rug, and accessories at Ikea, Crate and Barrel, and CB2 The awesome multi-functional wall bed and drop down table combination is made by Instant Bedrooms Manufacturing in Yaletown. The wallpaper behind the apartment size sofa was sourced through a local to-the-trade showroom. 

Gold award win in CDECA decorating competition

Wall unit transforms into queen size bed to a dining table.

My style idea for the suite involved an overall neutral palette of white and grey with trendy shades of turquoise and orange as accent colours. The geometric pattern wallpaper in a darker grey colour helps to define the living area and is a great backdrop for the neutral coloured apartment sized sofa from IKEA.  I’m proud to say this small space was furnished and styled within the real estate developer’s budget, which was under $12,000.

Gold award win in DDA (formerly CDECA) decorating competition
Interior design by Nancy DeVries of Urban Aesthetics
White floating shelves from IKEA. Accessories from HomeSense and CB2

Here’s a before and after


sofa, floating shelves, decorated small space

I’m very excited to have won this award as all the winners in the competition were selected by my peers in the organization and I’m proud of my achievement in a profession that I love. I’m also excited to be able to use my experience winning this award to highlight that people can have affordable and stylish design, including hiring a professional such as myself, without having to pay a fortune.

Style doesn’t have to break the bank to be good!

If you would like to know more about this project or if you would like to create a new look for a room in your home, connect with me here.

Related posts:

Finding Your Decorating Starting Line

‘Couchsourcing’: The Search For the Perfect Sofa Explained




  • Beverley
    Posted June 3, 2014 at 8:43 pm 0Likes

    Hey Nancy, congratulations! Well done.

  • M.B.
    Posted June 3, 2014 at 8:44 pm 0Likes

    Congrats on your award!! Way to go.

  • B.W.
    Posted June 3, 2014 at 8:45 pm 0Likes

    Wow Nancy – I had a look at your studio decorating – it is beautiful!! Well done!

  • Katherine Labelle
    Posted June 3, 2014 at 10:11 pm 0Likes

    Wow, I love the simplicity and warmth of your design. You can’t tell it’s such a small space – as you enlarged it so well with lots of white, clean lines, and lack of clutter. Great job! Congratulations!!!

  • Liz Leonard
    Posted June 4, 2014 at 6:01 am 0Likes

    Wow – Nancy, fabulous job! Congratulations on winning such a prestigous award!!

  • Brad
    Posted June 5, 2014 at 5:46 pm 0Likes

    Looks great, congratulations!

  • Patricia Kramer
    Posted June 17, 2014 at 12:32 pm 0Likes

    Nancy you really did a fantastic job within the challenge of working on such a small space. Good for you!

  • Joanne Coulton
    Posted June 19, 2014 at 7:00 am 0Likes

    A tough assignment, ingeniously worked out with your combined use of your client’s dining & sleeping! Love the ‘Murphy Bed’ & ‘Drop Down Table’! Good choice with your colour pallet, very soothing. Congrats!

  • Tamara
    Posted November 25, 2015 at 7:45 pm 0Likes


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