A 50sqm Quirky Condo For Sibling Students

His-and-her spaces, clever storage solutions, and whimsical décor create the perfect weekday study home for this brother and sister

Original Article: Bubbles Salvador Photography: Michael Angelo Chua Styling: Dagny Madamba and Tala Singson Interior Designer: Catherine Cena Yambao

Getting a condo unit to live in while going to school in the metro is a great idea—a way to skip traffic, gain more study time, and create your own personal space. But what if you had to share that space with a sibling—your brother, or sister?

Interior designer Catherine “Cathy” Cena Yambao was faced with this dilemma when confronted with a 50-sqm unit that was to shared by college student Nikki with her brother Ben. How would she maximize the small area, all the while making the décor gender-neutral but stylish? Cathy recalls upon turnover of the bare unit, she had to redo the layout of the home since she was working with two combined units. “I wanted the living, dining, and study areas to have the most natural light, so I situated them near the balcony,” she says.

Nikki and Ben’s mom also requested to have lots of storage spaces and a large study area. To answer the need for storage, Cathy found as many enclosed storage spaces as she could: in the hallway, above the desk, in multitasking furniture pieces, and closets in bedrooms. Because it is mainly a weekday school home, the study area extends to the living and dining areas. In the same way, the study chairs also serve as extra seating when they entertain visitors or have a study group over.

But of course, university life is temporary, and when the time comes for Nikki and Ben to graduate, the condo will serve a new purpose. “I think the best thing about the condo’s style is that it’s easy to make small additions and changes,” shares Nikki. 

Living/Study Area

The living room shares space with the study area. A black-and-white color scheme makes the space more gender-friendly, as Nikki shares the general living areas with Ben. “I also put in wallpaper with a playful pattern so that the space will be more dynamic as opposed to just being relaxing,” says interior designer Cathy Cena Yambao.

Study Area

The siblings’ study area us situated outside the bedroom so Nikki and Ben can better concentrate on their schoolwork without dozing off. “I put the desk area against the wall, but in full view of the window so they will have natural light while they study, explains Cathy. “I also put a printing area between the two desks so that they can share the space and also it will serve as a divider for both of them.”

Lounging Area

White and black are the main colors for the spaces, punctuated with pops of bright orange, as seen in the throw pillows and other accessories. A tuxedo couch and faux-panel walls add a classic, formal touch.

Kitchen & Dining Areas

Cathy kept the kitchen open, with easy accessibility to the dining area. “Sometimes, we have a Korean barbecue-movie-night,” shares Nikki. “Our friends would always prefer hanging out here.” Get similar pendant lamps from Wilcon Depot.

Boys' Bedroom

The raw concrete wall finish goes well with Ben’s preferred color: an orangey red. Ben loves to skateboard, so Cathy added a huge skateboarding mural above the built-in storage unit.

“When I learned that he likes skateboards, I also put in some skateboards that we used as shelves,” says Cathy, referring to the unusual but fun skateboard display shelves above Ben’s bed. Get similar bed linen from Debenhams.

Girl's Bedroom

In contrast to Ben’s bedroom, Cathy made Nikki’s bedroom ultra-feminine. The sophisticated mirrored vanity-dresser dictates the elegant aesthetic of the space. Its diminutive size also fits the small bedroom.

“My favorite is this bedroom’s bright and happy color scheme, which instantly makes me feel energized,” says Nikki about her lively cyclamen-colored bedroom. Cathy added a closet with paneled-mirrored doors, which give the illusion of more space.

Read the original article ("Students' Prerogative") in the June 2016 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App. Log on to for more details.

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