A Studio Unit with Splashes of Color and Cleverly Arranged Furniture

Simple, no-frills, and clutter-free describe this work-at-home couple’s cozy abode

Original Article: Chinggay Labrador Photography: Miguel Nacianceno Styling: Issa Villar Interior Designer: Lisa Salvador

When Erik and Therese were newly engaged, they came across an ad for a one-bedroom apartment on the Internet. After meeting up with the broker, they took a look and liked what they saw—and what’s more, it was within their price range. “[We] liked that it had an extra bathroom, and gave the reservation fee," recounts Therese, a communications consultant.

Admitting that they are from being style-savvy, the couple hired interior designer Lisa Salvador to spruce up their newly acquired home. “Initially, we didn't want a lot of work done on the place—we just wanted to keep everything as is and hire an interior designer to help make the place look nice,” says Erik, an IT consultant and photographer. But when Lisa did an ocular of their unit, she pointed out how certain areas could open up the small space and make it more workable and livable for the couple.

The couple trusted Lisa’s judgment, and one of the things Lisa did was to tear down the wall of the maid’s room and converted the space into a home office. She respected the couple’s request to keep things simple, injecting tinges of color amidst a mostly white interior and making the unit as functional as possible, strategically arranging furniture for maximum efficiency and installing clever storage spaces here and there. The ensuing look and layout definitely reflects the no-frills mindset of the couple.

Original article by Chinggay Labrador. Styling by Issa Villar. Photographed by Miguel Nacianceno.

Read the original article ("Real Simple") in the January-February 2011 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App ( now! Log on to for more details. 

An Overview of the Unit The living area and bedroom sit next to each other, with a backless bookshelf moonlighting as a room divider. The off-white couch was personalized and scaled down to fit the proportions of the unit. Red accents such as patterned throw pillows and the stool which holds the phone and TV remote control keep the space from being too sterile. A smart solution to the small unit’s lack of storage is a thin strip of overhead storage that can house knickknacks, DVDS, and other small items.
Living Area Erik’s home theater system is framed by a series of functional open shelves that reach all the way to the ceiling—a savvy method of utilizing the walls to avoid eating up floor space.
Dining Area Accompanying the clean six-seater table Therese bought from EDIA is a simple buffet cabinet that stores all their serving platters and dishes. A mounted photo taken by Erik and framed prints lend a colorful, artistic touch to the white wall.
Dining Area Detail The simple buffet cabinet stores all their serving platters and dishes. Displayed on top are a couple of drinks, a coffeemaker, and a coffee press.
Makeshift Room Divider Again, Lisa relied on backless, see-through bookshelves to separate the dining area from the couple’s home office. It’s a good way to define areas without making an already cramped space seem even narrower.
Kitchen The only area in the unit that doesn’t follow the all-white motif, the kitchen was designed to achieve an efficient workflow. The red tiled backsplash is a nice contrast to the wooden cupboards and stainless steel appliances.
Bedroom A splash of green breaks the monotony of an all-white motif, making the space less impersonal and more inviting.
Walk-In Closet and Bathroom Lisa was able to create a walk-in closet, much to the couple’s surprise. The couple couldn't believe that they were able to fit everything in. Living in a small space taught them to live simply. They give away old clothes when they buy new ones as well as give away books once they've read them.
Home Office The red wall and wall decals liven up the space. Overhead cabinets house the couple’s supplies—mostly Therese’s—and the extra-long desk mounted on the wall is the perfect solution to seat two people in this slim confine.

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