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Size Does Not Matter

People live in condominiums for several reasons. The building might be situated in a convenient location close to work or family, it comes with 24/7 security, it has great views or it entails less maintenance than living in a house. However, even with its long list of benefits, the common complaint about condo living would be the lack of space or storage. Now, imagine moving into a 24-square meter studio. How do we cram the bedroom, kitchen, living room, bathroom and maybe a workspace into the unit and still make it look good? Is there another way to rework the layout and create something fresh? 

A few weeks ago, I visited the Philippine School of Interior Design’s Studio 24 exhibit at the Ronac Lifestyle Center. I wrote about it in my last column. Even after graduating from the school seven years ago, I like going back and getting inspiration from students. It is always exciting to meet younger designers. I always feel revived after being around them. Their passion and enthusiasm is so contagious that I wish I could bottle their energy. For this exhibit, I decided to pick their brains because their theme intrigued me. As mentioned last week, they designed 24 studios in 24 various ways in 24 square meters. I was able to collect some tips from some of these booths so we can learn and apply them in our own homes.

One of the designs that stood out paid homage to our culture – Booth 4. They had to work with a Filipino indigenous theme with “The Artist” as its archetype. Here are some of the suggestions from the group:

Booth 4. 'The Artist'


Booth 4: Bedroom and work area
  • The sofa can double as the bed, fusing both the bedroom and living room area.
  • Instead of bulky closets, create open shelves to save on space.
  • It is fine to use rich colors on the walls. Just paint the ceiling a light color to give a semblance of height.
  • Spaces are defined through levels instead of walls. With this booth, the work area and kitchen were elevated.
  • Glass partitions become invisible walls, making the space appear larger.

The students in Booth 2 with “The Socialite” personality dressed up their neo-baroque themed studio using these tricks:

'The Socialite'
Booth 2. Bathroom and kitchen area of 'The Socialite'
  • Consider customized furniture to ensure proportion
  • Draw the eye upward with items such as floor-to-ceiling cabinets or headboards.
  • For that grand ambiance, place a few curated large pieces.    
  • Create separate coves on the ceilings to define spaces.
  • Use one color throughout the unit. It makes the space look more expensive and cohesive than applying several colors in a small space.
  • For kitchen storage, install hanging open shelves instead of closed cabinets. 
  • Proper usage of mirrors and glass help in creating the illusion of a bigger space.

Booth 6’s “The Bachelorette” created a pretty studio inspired by the art nouveau design. The designers applied these recommendations for their booth:

Booth 6. 'The Bachelorette'
Booth 6. Living, kitchen and bathroom of 'The Bachelorette'
  • Define spaces by adding a platform for the bedroom or using a rug for the living area. 
  • Using sliding doors instead of swing out doors for closets to help reduce obstruction for the passageway. 
  • Consider using a projector screen which can be tucked away instead of television for watching movies.
  • Opt for sleek kitchen appliances instead of bulky ones.

For Booth 8, the students incorporated these ideas for their Pop Art-inspired booth for “The Comic Geek” personality.


Booth 8. 'The Comic Geek'
  • Combine the kitchen and dining areas to maximize the space. It also encourages more intimate interactions. 
  • To store clothes, consider a vertical pullout closet so it does not consume too much space. Place a full-length mirror in the front so you can check yourself after dressing up. At the same time, it helps make the place appear more spacious.

The Booth 10 group designed a home for “The Power Couple” with a modern Chinese theme with these guidelines in mind:

Booth 10. 'The Power Couple'
  • Minimize accessories so the place appears more spacious.
  • Use a high bar table with droplights for the dining area to give that illusion of height.
  • To make the space look sleeker, use a partition to hide the clutter of the kitchen. 

The group behind the deconstructivism themed Booth 16, “The College Buddies,” managed to maximize their space with these concepts:

Booth 16. 'The College Buddies'
Booth 6. Living, kitchen and bathroom of 'The Bachelorette'


  • Use niches instead of protruding shelves to make use of dead spaces.
  • Incorporate pullout drawers in possible nooks or secluded spots.
  • Use double purpose furniture such as sofas with pullout ottomans or chairs and tables with hidden storage features.
  • Add acoustical treatments like area rugs, padded walls or ceiling as well as pillows to absorb sound and not disturb neighboring units.
  • White or lighter colors for walls help make a small space look bigger.
  • Play around with lights to temporarily change the mood of the room. Try RGB strip lights or dimmers and coves for a dramatic feel.
  • Add life elements like fruits, plants, or low-maintenance pets to soften the room.
  • Position wall tiles vertically or use vertical patterns to create that illusion of height for low ceilings.

Follow me on Instagram @cal_tavera

Topics: homage culture

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