Building & Renovating

Affordable Designer Tricks For Condo Homes

"You don't always have to choose smaller furniture for condo homes," says designer James Razo. Scroll down to get more space-saving, smart-shopping tips from these young Pinoy designers.

Photography: Cyrus Panganiban (James Razo portrait)

So you’ve just purchased your own condo home—congratulations on your new place! Don’t be surprised, though, about the condo’s bareness once it’s turned over to you. But don’t immediately transform it into a model unit.

Put an end to the “cookie-cutter-condo syndrome” by learning how to decorate and personalize your space. These four Pinoy designers will teach you how in The Essentials of Condo Living talks and exhibit. Here are some of their tips:

Use “transparent” furniture.

One of Real Living contributor Erika Uichanco’s favorite parts about being a designer is “seeing your design come to life and making the client happy.” Her small space trick: using slim-lined chairs and a table with thin metal legs to create an illusion of airiness and lightness in the room. "I opted to choose a square dining table, I think the silhouette of the dining table that I chose is very light, so I guess in a way people don’t want to make their condos look crowded," she explains.

READ: Take A Peek Inside This Colorful, City-Chic Condo...In Tagaytay!

Add instant countertop space.

Cebu-based designer Maya Franco is an ace at creating kitchens for small homes. (As proof of this, check out her cool, modern design for a studio unit in Cebu here.) "Usually the counter space that comes in condos has just enough space for sink and a cooktop so there’s no more space to chop...that’s why the island’s a great addition," explains Maya. Another good thing about this island is that it is on casters, so you can move it to one side if you need more space. 

READ: 5 Organizing Ideas For Small Kitchens

Create a simple but bold focal point.

Interior designer Ivy Crisostomo goes for the less-is-more approach, opting for a Scandi-chic minimalist living area, with a modern two-seater and pale wood storage systems. But she didn’t scrimp on color, placing a vibrant chartreuse sofa against a beautiful watermelon-hued accent wall. Other accents include wall art and accessories that reference to a well-traveled homeowner.

The center table in this vignette is actually a trunk that opens up for extra storage. Says Ivy: "One point is that you have to choose certain furniture elements that are multifunctional, so instead of just having a coffee get to have another extra storage."


READ: 5 No-fail Solutions For Small Living Areas

Layer collections and textures.

Interior designer and teacher James Razo went for a rustic-luxe vibe for his bedroom, layering different colors (a deep “Scout’s Honor” green and a multicolored chevron floor from Boysen), materials, and decorative pieces to create a rich, well-curated vignette that distracts you from the fact that it is a small space. “One of my objectives was to elevate affordable pieces, and make them look expensive,” the designer says.

James also advises condo dwellers not to settle for uncomfortable furniture pieces, even in a small space. "Like for example, if you’re living in a condo and if you’re sleeping there every night, don’t opt for a sofa bed because you have to use it every day," he says. "If you’re using a sofa bed, you have to always open the sofa and lay down your bed sheets instead of getting rest right away."

Go for multitaskers.

In a tight space, multitasking furniture pieces are key. Some examples in James Razo's bedroom include a dresser that doubles as a night table (it is so slim that it fits right into the tight space!), and a sideboard that doubles as linen storage at the end of the bed. Condo dwellers should maximize space by choosing well-proportioned furniture that is suited for the number of users and their functions.

READ: Multitasking Furniture For Small Spaces

You can get more small-space tips, see these vignettes, and meet these four designers in person this weekend, September 16 and 17. Attend the free design talks at The Essentials of Condo Living at the ground floor Concourse at SM Makati. Here is the schedule of talks (the same schedules apply for both dates):

 1PM: Multifunctional Design by Ivy Crisostomo

2PM: Creative Space-saving Ideas by Erika Uichanco

3PM: Space Planning 101 by James Razo

4PM: Design to the Max by Maya Franco

5PM: How To Infuse Color Into Your Condo by Boysen Paints

All furniture items and accessories in these vignettes are available at SM Home

More on

6 Elegant Decorating Tips From Designers

Designer Tips On How To Make a Pro Kitchen

5 Condo Renovation Tips


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