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Decorating

How to Spruce Up an Empty, Newly Turned Over Condo Unit

Invest in big pieces first before personalizing your space with decor and accessories

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Photography: Claudine Medina | Hans Fausto (Main Photos)

Purchasing and moving into a brand new condo unit are milestones we can never forget. After getting the keys to the space, the next step involves turning the empty unit into a lovely, functional, and inviting haven. If you’ve recently purchased a unit, we’re sure you’ll agree when we say that working on a small space involves making careful measurements and investing in multipurpose furniture.

However, just like any new chapter, decorating a newly turned over condo unit can be overwhelming. Where do you begin? Do you buy a bed first or is a sofa bed a better option? To help make decorating a bare unit fun and easy on the pocket, here are helpful reminders from interior designer Dagny Madamba:

Know your style.

Are you into rustic-inspired finishes or do you prefer a crisp, all-white palette? Get started by visiting home websites, flipping through magazines, and reading design books. “Look for inspiration from different sources for an interior style and color scheme that you feel match your personality. Remember that a home is an extension of yourself,” Dagny says. Prep a mood board that showcases the pegs that caught your eye—from vignettes and room snapshots to color combos and décor pieces. From there, you’ll know if there’s a solid theme you can work on and how you can decorate your brand new home.

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Invest in big items first.

Dagny suggests being on the lookout for major pieces you can add to the unit like an off-the-floor bed or a sofa available in local furniture shops. “It could even be old furniture you have in your old home that can work into your new condo unit,” the designer adds. Getting big items to fill up the space first ensures you’ll be able to stay comfortably in the unit while you’re improving it. You’ll have a bed to sleep on, a sofa where you can entertain guests, and a cabinet where you can keep your belongings. Make a list of priority items and make sure you visit different stores to compare prices before purchasing anything.

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READ: 5 Investment Pieces for the Home

Incorporate soft furnishings.

“Soft furnishings refer to pillow covers, bed linen, table linens, and rugs, to name a few. You can set the tone of your new home using patterns and colors,” explains Dagny. Your pillows, rugs, and linen add to the overall appeal of your unit. You can mix and match these pieces and have bold pops of color here and there, but make sure there’s a unifying element to keep the look cohesive.

READ: 4 Ways to Work with Patterns


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Choose proper lighting.

We’ve said it before—lighting plays a big role in turning an empty home into an inviting haven. Do you need cove lighting or are floor lamps and droplights enough to illuminate the space? “With the room already filled up with big items and soft furnishings, you can go and decide whether you want to have a floor lamp or a table lamp to add ambiance. It’s easier to decide what fixture to get and install when you already have furniture inside the unit. For example, you can determine the drop of a pendant light if you already have the dining table in place as reference,” Dagny says.

READ: 10 Commandments of Proper Lighting


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Have fun shopping for small décor pieces and accessories.


Hindi kailangan magmadali mag-decorate with small items. It’s nice to know that the space grows with you through the years,” shares Dagny. Once you’ve settled in and you have the big items in place, give it a few months before shopping for additional décor and accessories. Ask yourself if you really need to spend on knickknacks—will it add pizzazz to your condo unit or will it only end up as clutter? Decorating with small items doesn’t equate to spending thousands on different accessories. See if you have old pieces from your former home you can use. “When adding décor like vases, trays, photographs, and wall accents, remember that it’s nicer to showcase those with stories behind it. These add more character to the space,” the designer adds.

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Ready for your own home makeover? Get in touch with interior designer Dagny Madamba through email at dagnymadamba[at]yahoo.com.

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