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8 More Helpful Small Space Solutions From Interior Designers

Three interior designers give their personalized solutions to our readers' tiny home and storage struggles

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Photography: Erwin T. Lim (Main Photo)

Furnishing a small home, squeezing in a dining area, dividing a shared apartment—these are just a few of the daily struggles of homeowners living in spaces that are 50sqm and less. But thankfully, we’ve got three interior designers (IDrs Hannah Acab-Faustino, Pauline La’O, and Maica Rivera) who have all the practical solutions to these specific space problems. Here are their answers to some of our readers’ questions:


New home basics

Q. “What are the things I need to consider buying for our new house? It's just a small, two-storey house.” —Krisna Zurbano

A. “Prioritize needs over wants. Survey your family's lifestyle, and the furniture you need. For the living area, you would probably need a couch, a coffee table, and side tables. Other basics include a dining table with chairs for your dining area, kitchen supplements, racks, etc. for your kitchen.” —Hannah Acab-Faustino


Dining table vs. bar

Q. “We live in a 40sqm townhouse. Which should we choose: a customized bar that can be used as a dining table, or just an ordinary dining table since our house is small?” —Leslie Montano-Navarra

A. “Customized items are a sure-fire way to get the most out of your small space. If you love entertaining, the bar would be best for you. It would double as your dining area as well. Also, the added height adds the illusion of dividing the space.” —Maica Rivera

READ: 7 Compact Dining Room Areas You Can Try


Work-at-home space

Q. “We have a small sala that I’m turning into an entertainment and work area. Can you give me budget-friendly ideas to personalize it?” —Koren A. Fontelo, Dumaguete City

A. “Start with some décor and accessories. Paint an accent wall in your favorite color. To personalize your space, furnish it with sentimental pieces like pillows, your favorite lounge chair, a study desk, a lamp that you burned the midnight oil with.” —Pauline La’O

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Bag storage solutions

Q. “How can I have a storage space for our bags in my small bedroom? The upper space of my cabinet used to be the storage space but mice kept going in there.” — Cristy Alipio

A. “You can still use that storage space—it’s ideal for bags. Just install new cabinet doors that close tightly to prevent vermin from getting in. You can also buy bag organizers that you can hang on closet rods; find these at the home sections of major department stores.” —RL Staff

READ: 6 Bag Storage Ideas You Can Do Today


Organizing a narrow laundry area/bathroom

Q. “I live in a 22sqm apartment, with a bathroom that also serves as laundry area. The bathroom is very narrow, but has a high ceiling, and I don’t know how to organize my pails, toiletries, basins, and other things in it.” —Andy Trevor

A. “Narrow areas can be tricky. But take advantage of the height. Add overhead cabinets above your laundry space. You can paint them the same color as your walls so they can blend in.” —Maica Rivera


Renter’s remedy

Q. “I’m renting a small room and my sister will move in with me. I have a closet, a study desk, a bed, four chairs, one of which I put my printer on, a TV, and two ottoman stools. How do I fix my room?” —Christian-Roy Bangloy

A. “First, use a double deck or bunk bed to save on floor space. Second, compartmentalize your room into specific areas. For example, put your printer on top of the table beside your TV instead of on a chair. Third, if you can, limit your chairs to those that you will actually use. Fourth, remember to utilize vertical space, and invest in multi-functional furniture pieces.” —Pauline La’O

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Hide, don’t hoard

Q. “My husband is a hoarder—he collects things that he refuses to get rid of. We can’t store them in our existing cabinets because they are all full, so he started putting them on the floor, and now I can’t walk around comfortably. Help!” —MP, Quezon City

A. “Invest in storage units. Use file boxes for smaller items; these boxes can be stacked on top of each other. Stackable plastic storage bins also come in different sizes and colors. Store items vertically rather than spreading them on the floor—stacking increases floor space. And please purge!” —Maica Rivera

READ: P400-And-Below Finds That Will Keep Your Home Organized



Privacy problems

Q. “I share a condo unit with two friends and, thus, lack privacy. My bedroom is separated from our living space by a clear glass sliding door. What is the best way to cover it?” —Kat, Pasig City

A. “You may put sticker graphics on your glass sliding door for a more permanent barrier. However, if you prefer a temporary one only, use roll-up shades only so that you also have control over your privacy.” —Pauline La’O

MAIN PHOTO By Erwin T. Lim, interiors by Hannah Lim-Escaño for Avida Riala. To see the rest of the unit, click here. 

Part of this article appeared in “Small Space Solutions” in the July 2013 issue of Real Living magazine. Got a house problem that needs an answer? Send us a message on the Real Living Facebook page.  

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