A Major Renovation Turned This 65sqm Unit Into a Gallery-Inspired Home

After 10 years, the owner can finally live in the space filled with an impressive art collection

Original Article: Tisha Alvarez Photography: Michael Angelo Chua Styling: Dagny Madamba

Marco Antonio Misa Torres bought his 65sqm, one-bedroom unit ten years ago, but he's only gotten around to living in it last October 2016. He said that one of the reasons why it took him that long was because the unit was in bad shape. “When I bought it, the condition was so lousy because it was used as an office. The ceiling was like those acoustic boards. The floor was like vinyl tiles that were a bad color, really ugly…I had my sister renovate it so that it was in an acceptable condition, and then I had it rented.”

The renovation was enough to get the unit a lessee for a good five years, but not good enough for Marco to live in. He made it his home base in Manila whenever he wasn't working in China, but he wasn't exactly happy with it even after the renovation. “It was still ugly, you know, I couldn’t stand sleeping here! But why bother fixing it? I’m only here every two, three months,” he says. Everything changed when he needed a permanent place to stay in and so he made it his mission to fix the place according to his liking: “industrial minimalist with Scandinavian inspirations.”

“It was all me. I’d be meeting with contractors, I bought everything. If I can’t find anything I exactly like, I’d have it made. And if I want something, I’d scour all the home depots, department stores—everything, every possible place so I can see before I settle for one,” he says. He also reworked the unit's layout to get as much natural light from the windows.

The end result is a clean, modern space designed like an art gallery where Marco's impressive art collection from artists like Orlina, Luz, Castrillo, and BenCab, among many others, are on display.

Living Area

The living area looks bright and airy, thanks to its white walls and big windows. It's peppered with shades of brown care of the chocolate brown leather sofa from Milano Design, center table from IKEA, and accent chair from a store in Glorietta.

Find similar pieces at SM Home.

Living Area

Even the lights in Marco's living area resembles art. This lighting fixture from MC Home Depot doubles as an accent piece in the living area.

Living Area

Displayed in one corner of the living area is this torch from the 2008 Beijing Olympics where Marco was one of the torchbearers. “I was selected among two hundred sixty-two applicants, which included general managers and ambassadors, in an online vote. Additional criteria was love for China and how the person exemplified the Olympic spirit,” he shares. “I ended up number two after an online campaign in terms of votes. They chose eight based on additional criteria, and all from different countries.”

Living Area

Orlina, Luz, Castrillio, and BenCab art pieces are a common sight in Marco's unit, which he admits, he intentionally designed to look like an art gallery. “Over all, it’s a space designed like an art gallery, so the space is flexible to highlight any artwork. It literally feels like living in an art gallery,” he says.

RL Tip: You don't always need to use shelves to display art. Follow Marco's lead and maximize the floor.

Living Area

The living area is adorned with different kinds of artwork curated for Marco and his guests' viewing pleasure: National Artist BenCab's "Twins" sculpture on the shelf, Ed Castrillo's "Growth Trilogy" sculpture on the pedestal, and Jeff Salon's "Savor the Rain" oil on canvas piece on the floor.

Living Area

These sculptures that stand out were acquired by Marco in China.

Living Area

Adding an elegant touch to Marco's living area is this drum stool from Zara Home.

Find a similar piece at Crate & Barrel.

Design Detail

Marco's home is peppered with various forms of visual art, like this tiny Arturo Luz sculpture that sits on top of some books and magazines.

Find a similar piece at the Ayala Museum gift shop in Makati City.

Dining Area

The focal point of the dining area is the large, wooden custom-made dining table matched with chairs from home store EDIA. The droplights above it are from MC Home Depot at The Fort.


The kitchen's aesthetic is a lot darker than the rest of the unit, what with its black countertop and dark brown cabinets from ALNB Modular (at Ortigas Home Depot). It makes his Alessi kitchen accessories—Michael Graves' whistling kettle, Philippe Starck's standing juicer, among others—stand out all the more.

Master Bedroom

Marco’s favorite art pieces are displayed in his bedroom near his custom-made bed: a sculpture, a drawing, and a limited edition print all by National Artist BenCab.


Just like the living area, Marco's toilet and bath is done in earth tones, but instead of whites, gray tones dominate the space.


The recessed shelves in Marco's bathroom hold his collection of cologne and perfume bottles.

This article (At Home with Art) originally appeared in the June 2017 issue of Real Living Magazine.

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