A Calming Tropical-Inspired Dream Home for a Young Couple

Inside this 140sqm condo are chic wooden elements, lovely indoor plants, IKEA finds, and handpicked details that make it extra special

Photography: courtesy of the Homeowner Interior Designer: Edna Chua

“We knew we wanted a clean and bright house with lots of wood elements. We don’t have children yet so we weren’t worried about [having] white walls and furniture,” shares RJ, who shares this lovely home with his wife, Louise. Since Louise’s family has a business in China, they regularly receive IKEA catalogs. “We loved the Scandinavian design with its clean and modern interiors. Since we live in a bright and sunny country, we mixed in elements of tropical design and looked back at resorts we’ve stayed in for inspiration. This meant adding more plants and green elements to break the monotony of the Scandinavian look,” adds RJ.

In just six months, the blank turned over space became an envy-worthy and charming dream home for the couple. To make the renovation a breeze, they worked with interior designer Edna Chua and contractor Lorraine Tiu-Ching. Both professionals helped the owners make the most of the available space and even made adjustments according to their vision. RJ and Louise also tapped Jennie Go of CXF Design Center to supply the cabinets and desks around the home. Having a design background also came in handy for the couple—especially when it comes to choosing furniture pieces and accessories that go well together. They shopped for a couple of essentials in IKEA China and bought important furniture pieces from Philux and Triboa Bay Living.

While challenges are inevitable in any project, the two successfully overcame these by trusting the professionals they’re working with and sticking to their vision. “If you want a dream home, be prepared to put in the time and effort. Crafting the perfect home takes a lot of time and cannot be rushed. Have a clear idea of what you want and stick with it. If you are committed to following it, it’s easy to say no to the things that won’t work. Sometimes, less is more,” shares RJ.


To transform this nook, RJ and Louise created a foyer complete with a special hanging system where they can keep their bags and display some plants. The organizer and wooden stool were purchased from IKEA while CXF Design Center supplied the wood laminated used as backing. In front of the organizer is a mirrored shoe closet, also by CXF, where the owners keep their shoes.


Aside from having enough hooks to accommodate bags, there are also tiny baskets meant for holding a variety of knickknacks. RJ and Louise can store keys, notes, and other essentials that they need to grab before stepping out of the house.

Find similar organizers at Habitat.

Storage Detail

“We envisioned the home to be a place where we could share the blessing of having a home with others,” shares RJ. Some adjustments had to be done in the space to enable the couple to welcome guests and friends. What better way to make them feel at home than with a pair of comfy slippers? Neutral pairs are neatly placed on a slim wooden shelf—in this home, even the small pieces follow the theme.

Find a similar piece at SM Home.

Living Area

Clean and cozy, the living area is perfect for lazy weekend afternoons, movie nights, and entertaining friends. “There was no living area before the renovation. A wall was pushed back from one of the bedrooms, this became the gym room, to make way for the living area,” RJ explains.

A bevy of IKEA finds—the sofa, the TV console, and the terrarium on top of the console—make the space extra relaxing. The sleek coffee table from Philux pairs well with the abaca carpet from Weavemanila. These two essentials add warmth to the living area and complement the white touches, too.

Living Area

The TV console has enough niches and compartments to keep clutter at bay. RJ and Louise can also freely display photos, plants, and other collections. “We already knew that it would be a mix of white and wood. When we got to IKEA, this exact system was on display. You can actually create your own system given that each part has many options, but that’s hard to do given the language barrier. We simply told the salesperson we wanted the piece to look similar to what’s on display,” shares RJ.

Living Area

To liven up the sofa, the couple purchased colorful pillowcases from H&M Home. They chose prints that depict nature to keep within the theme.

Meanwhile, to spruce up the walls, RJ purchased a few prints on Etsy and had these printed locally. There are also snapshots from their wedding and pre-nup shoot to make it more personal. The star on the wall is the deconstructed camera art from Triboa Bay Living—the details are stunning and the piece is definitely a conversation starter.

Living Area

A pocket garden takes up space by the window. While faux plants are currently on display, Louise hopes to grow real herbs and plants in the future. The wooden shelves and plant holders are from IKEA, while the rattan baskets are H&M Home purchases.

Dining Area

A couple of finds from Triboa Bay Living complete the inviting dining area. RJ and Louise opted for a customized table based on a design they saw on Pinterest. “They already had a table in their showroom called the Barclay Table. It had a wooden tabletop, but had black legs and no horizontal support at the bottom. We had them paint the bottom half of the table white and requested for a bar to be added to create a [more stable] support,” says RJ.

The wooden lamps hanging from the ceiling were also purchased from Triboa Bay. RJ asked their contractor to spray-paint the wires white (as well as all the windows in the unit!) for a consistent look.

Dining Area

The couple purchased the beautiful dining chairs from Philux. Look closely as two of these pieces are extra special. The middle dining chairs feature a tropical pattern that matches the print of one of the pillows in the living area. “We chanced upon them at the Philux showroom and had two made for the dining area,” says RJ.

Breakfast Nook

“Our interior designer put together the specifications for a breakfast nook and we worked with CXF Design Center to accomplish the modular work with the look and feel we wanted. There are hidden storage cabinets beneath the countertop—the panels are doors. The stools are also from Philux,” shares RJ.

A breakfast nook can serve different purposes in a home. For the couple, they can use it as an extra prep space, a place where food can be placed during get-togethers, and lastly, it’s the best spot where they can grab a quick bite. At the far end of the countertop is a pantry cabinet designed and crafted by CXF.


The owners asked CXF to design modular kitchen cabinets as well as an open shelf based on pegs they have gathered. They opted for invisible handles for a clean and streamlined look. To complement the cabinets, they chose white subway tiles for the backsplash and white grout for a uniformed look. They also installed a hanging organizer to hold herbs, plants, and other essentials.


The open shelf breaks the monotony of having white cabinets. Completing the kitchen is the white solid surface countertop that makes the cooking area look bigger. To liven up the space, faux plants, marble coasters from Crate & Barrel, and other knickknacks were put on display.

Master Bedroom

Prior to the renovation, the owners found the master bedroom too big and the bathroom too small. “We had our designer draw up a plan to use some of the bedroom as a walk-in closet that is connected to the bathroom to expand the space,” explains RJ. The couple’s bedroom is beyond inviting—with the abundance of natural light and the addition of wooden touches. A reading nook by the window is a snug spot where they can also admire the view of the city.

The TV console and chairs found in the bedroom were all purchased from Philux. “They have a beautiful Scandinavian collection,” shares RJ.

Learn more about Philux and see their collections by visiting their website or following them on Facebook.

Master Bedroom

We can’t help but fall in love with this open shelf from Philux and how it adds a resort vibe to the bedroom. To complete the look, wooden frames and plants were put on display.

Master Bedroom

The captivating bed frame and side tables from Philux work well with the white linen and black-and-white photographs on the wall. These finds come together to create a charming Scandinavian aesthetic.

Master Bedroom

It’s difficult not to notice the precise details of this side table. The couple purchased the reading lamps from IKEA.

Find a similar lamp at SM Home.

Master Bedroom

This desk and dresser combo designed by the interior designer showcases a creative use of space. “Our contractor worked with CXF Design Center to complete the room based on the drawing of our designer. CXF supplied the materials that would become the desk, dresser, and cabinets, then our contractor created a pocket sliding door to maximize the space,” shares RJ.

The couple wanted to have tiles that looked like wood for the flooring. “We chose tiles that looked like wood so that they were easy to maintain, but looked great and fit within the budget,” adds RJ.

Master Bathroom / Walk-in Closet

After the adjustments made by the designer, the bathroom became bigger and better. “Our bathroom’s original door and part of its wall were completely removed to create a more spacious and airy bathroom,” explains the man of the house. Since they didn’t like the T&B upon turnover, a lot of work was put into its new look. For the flooring, they opted for hexagon tiles to make it more interesting.

Master Bathroom

RJ and Louise used teak elements to complete the Scandinavian look in the master bathroom. “We sourced teak from Linden Teak at CW Home Depot in Ortigas. My wife did a research on the best type of wood to use and found that teak was used in outdoor furniture and is perfect for an area that always gets wet and humid,” shares RJ.

Master Bathroom

Against the wishes of their designer, the couple went for an unsealed look because they didn’t like how the color of the wood changed with the sealant. “The unsealed teak requires more maintenance, but the shade of brown of the unsealed wood fit our design better,” says RJ. Completing the chic bathroom are the teak mirror, countertop, and shelf in the shower area. These wooden elements were cut according to the specifications of the designer and give a posh resort-vibe to the private space.

The pocket shelf on the side of the mirror features Palochina wood. Most of the accessories in the bathroom were purchased from IKEA.

Guest Room

Instead of using mostly white elements, the owners opted to showcase more wood in the guest room. “Since it can be converted into a kid’s room in the future, we decided to put more wood elements to ward off dirt,” says RJ. It highlights a mini living area featuring a sofa, a coffee table, a shelf, and a grass-like carpet—all of which were purchased from IKEA. The chair and ottoman are part of a set from Philux.

Guest Room

Visitors won’t run out of storage space in this cozy room. Be careful which door you open though, as you’re in for a surprise. “Guests in our house are always surprised to find the bathroom hidden behind a cabinet door,” exclaims RJ. The cabinets were provided by CXF, based on the wood finish chosen by the owners.

Guest Room

The bed frame is a find from IKEA. Purchasing items from the well-loved store proved to be a good decision for the owners as it helped them save on cash. To complement the wooden pieces, they chose green sheets and pillow covers for a soothing appeal.

Guest Bathroom

Similar to what’s seen in the master bathroom, the guest bathroom also features a teak countertop, mirror, and shelf paired with hexagon tiles.


One of the bedrooms in the unit was turned into a gym. Mirrors were installed on one side of the room since Louise practices yoga. An abaca carpet was placed under the elliptical trainer, while the mini ladder shelf from IKEA holds a couple of faux plants. Bathed in natural light, this room is perfect for morning routines and a few quiet minutes doing light exercise.

Do you have a Real Living-inspired home, too? We might feature you next! Send us a message on Facebook and make sure you include photos for review.

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