A 46.5sqm Unit turned into a DIY Haven

A doctor in a diving support sea vessel takes inspiration from his workplace

Original Article: Rachelle F. Medina Photography: Paolo Feliciano Pictorial Direction: Nat M. Clave Styling: Dagny Madamba

Homeowner Bien Po is a doctor in a diving support sea vessel who’s into so many hobbies like photography, cooking, DIY projects, and so much more. Being out at sea six months a year got him accustomed to living in a limited space. This, he explains, is why the main inspiration of his 46.5sqm unit is a boat. “Parang inspiration sa akin ang boat life. Para sa akin, ang pinakamagandang design ang mga boat, kasi napaka-efficient sila sa pag-maximize ng space.”

True to his words, everything he needs in his condo are pretty much accessible. By the entrance and under the stairs is his L-shaped kitchen, which is an arm-span’s-length to the fridge and the dining table. A step or two away from the table will lead you to his living area, done in black-and-white and adorned with a variety of DIY pieces. Next to his white Chesterfield couch is the stairs leading to Bien’s bathroom and DIY studio. Beside it is his meter-and-a-half workstation, and finally, his loft bedroom, also full of DIY and upcycled items and junk turned into art.

Read the original article ("DIY Dream") in the February 2014 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App now! Log on to for more details.

Living Area

Dahil maliit siya, everything’s accessible,” says Bien about his unit’s limited space. Despite the narrow floor area, the living area is filled to the brim with quirky black-and-white pieces that make the look cohesive.  

Dining and Kitchen Areas

“When I was studying in CCA, gusto ko parang studio kitchen ng cooking show,” explains Bien about the floor-to-ceiling mirror in his dining and kitchen areas. 

Living Area Detail

Aside from his DIY projects, like the chain mail headpiece on top of the lamp, several of Bien’s art are also showcased around the house, like his Holga shot above the Chesterfield sofa.  

Space-Saving Idea

Parang stairs of drawers ang gustong mangyari dito, pero ang karpintero makulit, hanggang dito lang ang ginawa niya. Sayang ang storage, pwedeng pang-shoes,” shares Bien. 

Landing and Bathroom Detail

Originally, the panels of Bien’s bathroom were made of glass, but at some point, the glass gave in and shattered. Because of this, Bien added a louvered wooden panel as extra protection. This provides extra privacy for guests, too.


Every nook and cranny in Bien’s loft bedroom is well utilized. Aside from the drawers on each side of his beds, he also used the space above his eco-friendly headboard (it’s made out of wood scraps!) as additional storage.

Bedroom Detail

Bien’s favorite Lego Lamp is not the only DIY piece in his bedroom. The “good nite” pillows were originally from oversized pillowcases and his fitted sheet was once a flat sheet.

Bedroom Detail

“As much as possible, ginagamit ko lang kung anong meron ako. Ayokong bumili, nagui-guilty ako,” shares Bien. The art pieces at the foot of the bed are indeed either picked up from the street (the concrete-coated plywood), made from recycled materials (the “Go Forth” piece he hand-stenciled and the sculpture on top of the table), and bought on a budget (the concrete planter).

Work Area

What can one possibly do with a meter-and-a-half area? Bien turned his into a workstation. He even has enough space for chalkboard art. 


Bien’s no-nonsense comfort room is not devoid of functional DIY pieces. Case in point, the toilet paper holder next to the toilet bowl. “Gawa ’yan from a jack na napulot ko sa kalye,” he reveals.

Bathroom Detail and Workstation

Bien’s DIY workstation shares the space with the vanity area of the bathroom.

DIY Lampshade

"Three years ko yan ginawa. Nasugatan pa ako," says Bien of this DIY lampshade made of galvanized iron.

Decor Detail

Everything in Bien’s home is interesting. Even this simple naked bulb lamp has something quirky going on about it. 

Decor Detail

Mahilig ako sa mga lamps kasi siya yung magandang pag-eksperimentuhan,” reveals Bien about what he calls his “dangerous lamp.” He used magnets to attach the nails to the lamp.

DIY Decor

Most of Bien’s unit is painted in chalkboard paint. It’s probably because it allows him to create what he calls “temporary art” with it. He even shared his homemade chalkboard recipe: “Use flat latex paint in black, that’s all. Now if you want a bit of texture on the surface, mix in a bit of ordinary tile grout.”

DIY Decor

If you want to achieve this magnetic, low-maintenance living decor, drill a hole into a champagne cork, glue on a small magnet, and add an air plant.

DIY Decor

“Magnets are great kasi they’re not permanent, you can modify them,” says Bien. Magnets are in fact one of the materials that make up most of his DIY projects.

Design Detail

The exposed white electrical cables positioned against the black ceiling in his living area amp up the industrial feel of his space.

Decor Detail

The vintage filing cabinet is a find from a friend’s bodega while the poster behind it is a listing of Bien’s favorite countries. 

Decor Detail

This sculpture that sits at the foot of Bien’s bedroom is from one of his “unfortunate incidents.” Instead of getting rid of it, he chose to make something good out of it. “Galing ’yan sa kotse ko. Tumirik ’yon sa España, piston ang problema, sayang naman kung itapon ko, may history,” he says. 


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