Building & Renovating

RL Ideas: Big Solutions for Small Spaces (Part 3)

With these small space ideas, a diminutive space was transformed into a cozy one-bedroom home


Architect and decorator Fe Porciuncula’s smallest project to date is a 42sqm studio unit for a client based in the United States. She and husband Joel Porciuncula, who is in charge of the site construction, managed to transform the diminutive space into a one-bedroom home. 

Almost all the big-ticket items in the unit are custom-made to fit the space, while most of the decorative elements have Fe’s personal touches. Aside from sparing no nook and cranny in sneaking in extra storage space, the decorator also made the home small-space friendly by opting for combination blinds instead of some overwhelming window treatment, and choosing the graphic color combination of black and white that visually enlarges the home.

Production by Kathleen Valle. Pictorial direction by Dagny Madamba. Photographed by Jun Pinzon (unless stated otherwise).

Read the original article ("Big Solutions for Small Spaces”) in the June 2012 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App now! Log on to for more details.

I don't have a space for a console table.

Small Space Strategy: Let your dining table moonlight as a console table.

Fe had a dining table custom-made to achieve her ideal, super slim silhouette. Set against a wall, it also surprisingly serves as a console table when not in use—note the decorative elements on top, which do double duty as centerpiece. 

Our end table cannot hold a couple of items.

Small Space Strategy: Think out of the box.

A stack of storage cubes takes up the same floor space as the usual end or side table, but it offers more surface space because it’s multi-tiered. Take your cue from the cube table punctuating the gray sofa-bed.     

How do we make our living area guest-friendly?

Small Space Strategy: Instead of a coffee table, choose ottoman stools instead.

Make do without the coffee table, and just add a couple of ottoman stools that can provide additional seats as well as surfaces.

Go for ones with interesting shapes, such as these puzzle-like pieces. Anchor the area with either a simple or an attention-grabbing one, like a graphic black-and-white rug.

I don't know how to use colors to my home's advantage.

Small Space Strategy: Play with colors to achieve depth.

Depth creates an illusion of more space, and makes a home stylish in a subtle way. You can use pieces with different textures, or pieces in the same color family (e.g cobalt blue, teal, aqua, powder blue). 

Fe made the black-and-white palette a little unpredictable by alternating the dominating colors. For instance, the middle of the three wall hangings has a black dominant color instead of white. The zebra-print pillow is notable for the black stripes, but white is more evident on the smaller pillows with black botanical prints. 

How can I have a proper study area?

Small Space Strategy: Assign a corner as a workspace.

It’s possible to have specialized areas, such as a workspace, even in a studio unit. Take your cue from Fe, who transformed a plain corner into a study area outfitted with a ledge and overhead shelves. 

Avoid making the area stick like a sore thumb by adding an element that will create continuity. Here, the dark duco finish of the shelves resonates with the adjacent combination blinds. 

How can we make our cabinets inconspicuous?

Small Space Strategy: Go sleek and subtle. You may choose not to use handles.

On the other side of the custom-made divider’s mirrored panel is a storage unit with its bold black-and-green color scheme. The black squares are actually cabinets with push-open mechanism. Sans the handles, the cabinets look sleek and discreet. 

Where can we store our beddings?

Small Space Strategy: Incorporate drawers into bespoke furniture.

If you’re having a bed custom-made, might as well ask for storage underneath to be added—just like these drawers that are perfect for stashing beddings or seasonal clothes.  


Storage Ideas for Small Spaces

Small Space Designer Tips

RL Tips: Small Space Solutions

For more tips and guides, click here.


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