Living room

Eclectic Zen Style for the Living Area and Lanai for P40,000

Design consultants Issa Villar-Ching, Holtz Abbu, and Paul Santamaria changed this family's shared spaces

Original Article: Tisha Alvarez Angluben Photography: Jun Pinzon Styling: Issa Villar Ching Design Consultant: Holtz Abbu and Paul Santamaria

Homeowner Elizabeth Palacios noticed that her two children would rather stay at their grandparents' house than their own home. She soon realized that it was probably because their living area and lanai needed to be improved! For one, the living area seemed too plain and drab. It was also furnished with dated bamboo furniture pieces. The dusty lanai connected to the living area was also neglected and it became a place for storing things that they no longer used.

To improve the living area and lanai, design consultant Issa Villar-Ching and landscape consultants Holtz Abbu and Paul Santamaria rose to the challenge. If you would also like a home makeover, here are 7 practical ideas to consider:

Issa breathed new life into the shoji-inspired wall by giving it a fresh coat of white and brown paint. The other wall was painted green.

Issa replaced the bamboo furniture pieces with two orange sofas from Market! Market! The curved edges will help create a safe area for kids to play around in.

Since extra seats would make a tiny area seem even smaller, Issa chose a rug and floor pillows. These soft pieces are perfect for sitting and playing on.

If you would also like to improve your open area, you have to look for design ideas from books, magazines, and websites. This would help you decide on what you can do and discover how you can do it. For example, the homeowner wanted a simple and minimalist feel because the space is relatively small. 

Landscape consultants Holtz Abbu and Paul Santamaria chose a Zen style that would make the homeowner and her family members feel calm and relaxed.

Prior to the makeover, the area was completely exposed but it wasn't enticing to look at. To solve this, the landscape architects placed a few plants and some monolith.

To make an impact during the day and night, they also installed two ground fixtures to achieve dramatic lighting in the evening.

"What I noticed first was sa right side, may stone finish na siya, white bricks," says Holtz. "So we incorporated it in the design para hindi masayang." They also decided to retain the deck since it was an interesting feature. Holtz adds, "Napansin namin 'yung sala was medyo Japanese inspired din...[so] 'yung theme namin medyo minimalist modern Japanese 'yung finished design." To this end, they painted the other walls white using Boysen paint, and installed three wooden ledges with orange "shadows" to provide a break from the monotony.

They also utilized the existing levels using a cascading effect. "Instead of using water talaga, it's like a dry river. To replace the water, we used araal stones," explains Holtz. The araal thus looks like a river flowing through the space, spilling over the stairs and forming ripples on the lowest level. Light, loose pebbles were added to contrast the darker araal.

Since the sun would directly hit the outdoor area at noon, the two decided to use low maintenance plants like dapo and creeping Charlie. The landscape consultants completed the space with monoliths, stones, and pebbles that don't need any special attention.

Read the original article in the May 2007 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App. Log on to for more details.

How Much It Costs:

Metro Gaisano Department Store
Furniture and accessories - P 19,762
Labor and materials for the pocket garden - P 23,660
Grand Total:

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