An Old House renovated into a Modern Family Home

A young couple updated the charm of an inherited dwelling in only three weeks on a budget of only P250,000

Original Article: Kathleen Valle Photography: Ocs Alvarez/ACME Visual Productions Pictorial Direction: Joanne Enriquez-Bohol and Dagny Madamba

For years, Kai and Cyrus Cruz tried to find the perfect place to call their own. Much to their surprise, the ideal match came in an unexpected form: Kai’s childhood home. With its high ceiling and huge windows, the 40-year-old structure was certainly a prized find. However, the couple still had to renovate the dwelling into something more functional without losing the nostalgic appeal they both fell in love with.

Kai explains that being on a tight budget forces one to be innovative, imaginative, and resourceful. “We got our favorite, super affordable pieces from a lot of places! HMR and Mandaue Foam were such great shopping havens! We were able to buy our TV sets and our sofa set at HMR for around P20,000. At Mandaue Foam, we were so lucky to have purchased sale items like our dining table, lighting fixtures, and our bed for less than P30,000!”

She adds that they were able to do the renovation for their 3-bedroom, 2-storey house for around P250,000 – that already includes the furniture, appliances, and even their little garden.

Original article by Kathleen Valle. Pictorial direction by Joanne Enriquez-Bohol and Dagny Madamba. Photographed by Ocs Alvarez/ACME Visual Productions.

Read “Cozy for Two” in the March 2013 issue of Real Living Magazine. To download a digital copy of Real Living Magazine, visit Summit Newsstand at


As with the other areas, the Cruzes outfitted the living room with affordable but expensive-looking furniture such as the accent chair from Crossings Home and the neutral-colored couch from HMR, a surplus store along Pioneer street in Boni, Mandaluyong.

Living Area detail

Instead of a traditional coffee table, Cyrus and Kai opted for an oversized ottoman in a warm camel shade. Aside from serving as the focal point in the living room, it can also serve as an extra seating option for guests.

Reading Nook

A statement piece like this tufted reading chair from Crossings Home can turn a dull, boring space into a useful one. For a more personal touch in your corner, mix eclectic décor with your own trinkets and mementos.


A round dining table, a P6,000 Mandaue Foam find is accompanied by white plastic molded chairs and an IKEA chandelier. The centerpiece is rather unique: a paper bouquet that Kai used in their wedding.

Kitchen Detail

For the uninitiated, renovating a kitchen can be a tough task. To make the job easier, look for ideas and inspiration – from the streamlined look of a modern contemporary kitchen such as this one to the more traditional appeal of country spaces – in our kitchen gallery.


Even a kitchen as visually arresting as this one can be improved with the addition of a refrigerator that is sleek, modern and energy-efficient. Find the piece that fits your needs best with our handy refrigerator guide.


A soothing blue shade can be seen on the staircase wall.

Family Room

In the family room, a tufted brown couch serves as a comfortable seat.


Although six-year-old Taylor sleeps with her parents, she still has her own bedroom that doubles as a playroom. The single bed is Kai’s own childhood bed that they repainted white while the ceramic bunnies, red table, and chair are all from Gingersnaps, a children’s clothing brand.


Taylor sits below a sweet "Live Colorfully" sign.


Drawing inspiration from the chic, urban style seen in TV show Gossip Girl, the Cruzes consider their master bedroom the “Chuck Bass room”, named after one of the show’s villains-turned-leads. Just like the character, the room exudes effortless style.


The Mandaue Foam bed with its crisp white slatted headboard, his-and-hers bedside tables (Kai’s table is from Heima), and geometric patterns on the wallpaper and beddings work together to create an ambiance akin to a relaxing getaway.

Bedside Table

A book and a pair of reading glasses are placed on the bedside table.


A bright blue alarm clock rests on the other bedside table.


Clothes are kept neat and organized in an open closet.


The wall-mounted shelf is filled with books and memorabilia.


The upstairs bathroom has new tiles and fixtures, but the original layout and details like the callado above the doorframe were kept intact.


Kai loves spending time in the bathroom because of its distinct spa-like appeal.

Garden Detail

The couple plans to add more plants, and even creeping vines. Their burgeoning patch of green has successfully attracted nesting birds.


Kai and Cyrus, who both lead an organic lifestyle, grow their own oregano, basil, tarragon, okra, and calamansi.


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