A Student Designed This Studio Unit with A P76,000 Budget

To turn the 20sqm space into a relaxing haven reminiscent of the outdoors, the promising young designer brought in plants, chose calming colors, and maximized the available space

Photography: Hans Fausto Styling: Kamila Arianna Garcia

Our Facebook inbox is a treasure trove of inspiring reader makeovers and homes built with a minimal budget. This studio unit in Quezon City stands out because it’s not only designed with a tight budget, a talented student from the University of the East was behind it, too. “This project was used for my thesis subject, FIN 419, which required us to look for a client who wants to renovate 90% of their home. My brother volunteered to be my client. After reviewing the final output, one of the judges approached me and asked me if I want to send my project to Real Living. At first, hindi ko sure kasi akala ko hindi matatanggap kasi student palang ako. My parents convinced me and told me that it’s a chance to showcase my work,” shares Arvin Ramos.

Arvin’s brother’s studio unit measures 20sqm and this limited area is challenging to work with. Since the owner is busy overseeing his businesses, he doesn’t have the luxury of time to visit parks to be able to unwind and relax. To address this, Arvin opted for an open layout to make the unit airy and spacious. “[I also] brought the outdoor atmosphere indoors by using natural shades of wood, displaying indoor plants, and working with exposed metals. A splash of green makes it calming as well,” he explains. Since he incorporated existing furniture pieces into the final look, he only spent around P76, 000 to give the studio a new look. Sourcing and shopping at Dangwa, Quezon City Circle, and different stores helped him achieve his vision for the space while staying within the budget.

Living Area / Entrance

The unit only has a glass sliding door that lets in natural light and air into the space. Since this isn’t enough, Arvin came up with a design that aims to improve air quality in the space, while making sure the owner can move around comfortably. “It has an open layout with no wall partitions to achieve a sense of openness as well as an improved traffic flow. I wanted to create an outdoor ambiance,” says Arvin.

Adding to the airy feel is the nature-inspired color scheme. Arvin used neutral colors to make the unit even more pleasing, while putting together contrasting shades and textures to add visual depth.


While the kitchen looks small, it’s kept organized and functional. Cabinets and shelves were put to good use to limit the clutter on the counter. Showcasing the wooden finish and painting the doors white add to the calming, resort-like feel of the unit.


Having open niches keeps the kitchen from being too plain. This allows the owner to display jars of treats, ingredients in clear containers, and some of his small appliances.

Dining Area

Arvin considers the home as the special place where one can relax and get energized after a long day. “Gusto ko yung pagkauwi galing sa trabaho, wala ka ng iisiping iba. Hindi ka na maga-ayos ng mga gamit. Magpapahinga ka nalang,” he explains. This vision inspired him to use colors that evoke a sense of calm and tranquility. In the dining area, a sage green accent wall completes the look. This color pairs well with the white walls and the wooden touches in the unit. Both the dining table and the large hanging mirror showcase a natural finish. For get-togethers, the table can be expanded to accommodate two more people.

Find a similar table and mirror at SM Home. Shop for similar chairs at Mandaue Foam.

Dining Area

The oldest trick in the book, installing a large mirror helps create an illusion of a bigger space. Arvin creatively used mirrors in the studio unit to make it seem bigger as well as to reflect the light streaming in. 

Storage Detail

A ladder shelf with metal support and wooden ledges functions as an extension of the kitchen. It holds indoor plants, dinnerware, a bottle of wine, and other essentials. A smart storage piece, it takes up less space and can double as décor, too. Arvin brought in Snake Plants, Peace Lilies, and pots of Aloe Vera to liven up the home and purify the air.

Find a similar shelf at Market! Market! McKinley Parkway, Taguig City.

Living Area/Sleeping Area

Arvin refers to the style of the home as Urban Style. “It is the softer side of the industrial style, making the look more modern and polished with bespoke fixtures, sophisticated finishes, and clever small space solutions. Bringing in plants and working with earth tones will make the room peaceful and calming,” he shares. In the living/sleeping area, one can admire how Arvin used horizontal lines to visually expand the space. 

Living Area/Sleeping Area

A neutral-colored sofa bed was set against the mirror, while floating shelves and overhead cabinets provide ample storage. These storage solutions not only give the owner enough space for his belongings, it makes use of the available vertical space, too. To spruce up the sofa, a couple of pillows were added, too.

Find a similar sofa bed at SM Home. You can shop for similar pillowcases at H&M Home, SM Makati.

Bookshelf and Dresser

The white bookshelf with cabinets underneath are perfect for displaying accessories, photographs, prints, and more plants. With the neat arrangement of knickknacks, it adds a refreshing feel to the unit. The cabinets can be used to store shoes and other belongings.

Notice the mirrored sliding door beneath the AC unit? It’s the owner’s mini closet. The drawers underneath can be used to store more clothes and accessories.

Work Corner

This workspace looks straight out of a Pinterest board. Arvin added a floating desk, a comfortable chair, and wall-mounted storage units to prevent clutter. The shelves that hold the plants, books and décor, as well as the key organizer have the same finish for a cohesive look.

Decor Detail

Arvin used a welded wire mesh and mini wooden clothespins to showcase some postcards from Papemelroti and other prints.

Click here to see a list of Papemelroti branches. You can buy welded wire mesh at Wilcon Depot.

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