A Luxurious yet Relaxing Feel for a 45sqm Unit in Pasay

In this special feature—the 7th Real Home for RL’s September issue—Grupo Santamaria transforms a stark condo unit into a comfy haven

Photography: Dairy Darilag Styling: Dagny Madamba and Paula de Guzman

Grupo Santamaria, led by principal interior designer Nina Santamaria, had quite the job order: to transform a stark 45sqm, one-bedroom condo unit into a cozy haven. But that wasn’t all. Their client had some non-negotiable features she wanted to see in her unit—a walk-in closet, lots of storage for her collection of bags and shoes, no bright colors, and no bright lights.

“It was challenging at first,” says Nina, recalling that since their client worked at night, she was usually asleep in the mornings, when the team was ready to begin their workday. “We needed to put sleep and rest as the foremost uses of her condo, and yet the building is in the middle of a busy district.”

Six months after they started, Grupo Santamaria was able to turn over a unit that is cozy and filled with “softly upholstered furniture, low-maintenance materials, and a warm, soothing color palette that give off a relaxing feel,” says Nina. In other words, they turned a plain box of a unit into a warm, snug home.

To see more of Grupo Santamaria’s works, visit their website.

Living Area

When their client comes home in the wee hours of the morning, she winds down by stretching out on her teal Ethan Allen couch to watch TV. The cove lights set the tone, and sometimes lull her to sleep before even making it to her bed.

To keep the unit from being too bright, Grupo repainted the white walls and even installed beige textured wallpaper on the ceiling to soften it up. The coffee table is from KISH, and the rug from Pottery Barn (

Living Area

There are no less than three white wooden cabinets in the living and dining areas, and all three of them store some of the client’s shoes and bags. This one is from Edition Lifestyle (

Living Area

The piece de resistance in the living room is this elegant, black wooden cabinet from KISH ( with glass doors and lighting. This cabinet holds the favorite bags and sky-high heels and wedges of the homeowner. 

Dining Area

This heavy narra dining table can sit up to five, and can also be used as a work desk. Nina’s team got it at the LRI Plaza in Makati. “Our client sometimes takes home work, and uses her dining table as her desk,” says Bianca Loreta, Grupo Santamaria’s junior designer.

"Matching the dining table with chairs took so long because we just couldn’t find the right ones. Finally we found these leather-and-wood ones in Furnitalia [30th St. cor. Rizal Drive, Bonifacio Global City]. The muted magenta of the leather even matches the home’s sophisticated taste,” Bianca adds.

Dining Area

A white buffet table from Danilyn’s ( holds many items other than food: supplies such as scissors and tape, files from work, and the ubiquitous shoeboxes. A mirror from Domicillo over the buffet table helps further expand the space and perfectly reflects the chairs. 


Even in the kitchen, muted lighting reigns. The recessed lights that Grupo Santamaria installed have another feature: a few of them also act as emergency lights. Two of those are in the kitchen, making sure that the homeowner won’t have to hunt for a flashlight in the event of a power failure.

Adding interest to the kitchen are dark gray backsplash tiles from Home Studio at CW Home Depot Ortigas.


Grupo’s client didn’t want her bedroom flooded with morning sunlight just as she was about to snooze. So Nina’s team had to turn the room into a virtual cave where natural light can’t enter.

Aside from putting up blackout curtains on the bay window, the team had a tres marias dresser custom-made and placed right in front of the window. The dresser has two functions: to block out the sunlight and to serve as a preening/charging station for the homeowner who is rather fond of cosmetics.


Although a snug space, the bedroom—made even cozier with gray wall-to-wall carpeting—turned out to be the perfect place for sleeping. The Tempur bed ( and pillows help amp up the level of comfort. 


The lone bathroom in the unit is made dramatic by the use of exquisitely patterned, crazy-cut marble on the walls. The shower used to be a laundry area that Nina had converted. The design team added with accessories and fixtures from Dexterton and Kohler to make the small space attractive. 


Latest Stories

21 Awesome Budget Home Finds In Quiapo

We swear, the P50 dinnerware and P10 cleaning products are worth the trip!

Christmas Gift Ideas For Plant Lovers and Green Thumbs

A list of lovely plants and accessories from below P100, P500, and up!

5 Creative and Affordable Wrapping Ideas For Christmas

Are you excited for the holiday season, too?

6 Fantastic Small Space Makeovers

How can you deal with cramped cooking corners and tiny bedrooms? Let these transformations teach you a trick or two.

A Filipino Designed This Space-Savvy Modern House in Singapore

It even has its own lap pool!

Would You Try "Death Cleaning?"

We've got everything you need to know about this new Swedish decluttering trend

5 Secrets Of A Functional Kitchen

Are you dreaming of having the most efficient scullery? These tips might just do the trick.

11 Peg-Worthy Celebrity Christmas Trees

From showcasing dainty blooms to using quirky ornaments, these personalities have taken the decorating game to the next level

This Quiapo Day Tour Will Make You Love Old Manila Again

Go on a DIY Quiapo adventure and look beyond the vendors. Say a prayer, have your fortune told, take a peek at a mysterious pagoda, and visit beautiful ancestral houses from a more genteel past.

10 Ways To Make Your Shoes Last Forever

Show your favorite pairs some tender loving care with these tips

A One-Bedroom Unit Transformed into a Two-Bedroom Home

The designers of this 45sqm condo in Manila created a functional space with an urban contemporary appeal that’s perfect for its young occupants

Here's Why You Should Skip Bringing Your Phone To The Bathroom

Trust us, liking that photo on Instagram can wait for a few minutes
Load More Stories

Get inspiring design ideas and handy hints.
Subscribe to our newsletter now!