A 40sqm Studio Unit with Floating Shelves and a Neutral Palette

This family of four’s extra space makes use of functional yet stylish fixtures to visually enlarge a studio unit

Original Article: Katherine Lopez Photography: Vincent Coscolluela Styling: Issa Villar

Suffice to say that those living in the city would love to come home to spacious abodes—the crowded streets and burgeoning population, not to mention the endless construction of skyscrapers and ever-changing façade of the urban jungle can experience a touch of claustrophobia every now and then.

It’s no surprise, then, that most condo residents yearn to make their personal space seem bigger than it actually is. Another concern is to minimize clutter and keep the unit as clean, streamlined, and organized as possible. In the Barreras’ second home, which doubles as an extra space to accommodate their visiting relatives, or as a venue for their children’s soirees and gatherings, they were smart enough to do away with bulky furniture that eat up way too much room and used space-saving tricks, such as dual-purpose furnishings that moonlight as storage solutions and visually enlarging accents (mirrors, white walls, and the like). The result? A functional unit that efficiently makes use of space without compromising on taste and design.

Original article by Katherine Lopez. Styling by Issa Villar. Photographed by Vincent Coscolluela.

Read the original article (“One-Room-Wonders") in the May 2011 issue of Real Living Magazine. To download a digital copy of Real Living Magazine, visit Summit Newsstand at

Proper Space Planning

A studio is “technically a one-room affair,” according to Adelaida V. Mayo, Ph.D, associate professor and Dean of the College of Home Economics in the University of the Philippines Diliman. Space planning can spell the difference between an effectively designed unit and a claustrophia-inducing one. In this case, various areas are clearly defined without being too obvious, thanks to well-thought-out placements and the absence of bulky furniture and fixtures.

Living Area

The living area sits opposite the banquette and is defined by the compelling contrast of white walls and a black upholstered sofa. Half of the wooden coffee table is topped with glass, making the area seem more spacious. It’s also installed with a shelf beneath for additional storage. Floating shelves organize clutter without taking up too much room.

Dining Area

A banquette transforms the dining area into a cozy nook for intimate dinners. The black-and-white plaid ottomans actually serve a double purpose—the lids can be lifted to provide much-needed storage space.


The sleek overhead cabinets, as well as those below the sink, offer ample storage solutions. The absence of cabinet and door handles makes the area feel less cluttered and more streamlined. A closer look shows that the backsplash is actually painted in mint green, rather than the initial impression of translucent glass. It’s a clever way of breaking the monotony of blacks and grays.


The use of white lessens the cramped feel of the relatively low ceiling and subdues the effect of black, which can make a space appear narrower and smaller. Meanwhile, strategically placed lighting give the area a cozy feel. Roller shades are neat alternatives to bulky, heavy drapes. A translucent glass fixture that hangs above the headboard is another trick to add depth and dimension.

Space-Saving Tip

If you must have a huge centerpiece, concentrate on having just one to avoid that closed-in feeling. Wall-mounted fixtures such as the huge flat-screen TV fronting the bed are great, creative space-savers. The built-in drawers underneath keep clutter at bay.


A huge mirror that covers the vertical half of one wall and pristine white tiles and bathroom fixtures give off the impression of a larger space. Black accents keep the area from looking too impersonal and antiseptic.


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