Ultimate Makeover

This Couple Gave an Amazing Makeover to Their 36-Year-Old Rental Apartment

They were able to work on the transformation in just three months.

Photography: Jannica Suillan

When we first featured Jannica Suillan and her family, they were living in a compact space that’s just enough for their then family of three. By practicing minimalism and refraining from buying things they don’t need, they were able to make the most of the space.

With the newest addition to the family expected to arrive in December 2021, Jannica and her husband, Kristoff, realized they need a bigger space for their growing family.

’Yong previous house namin maliit na and napag-usapan naming ni Toff na if baby boy ulit, susundan pa namin. Medyo hindi na talaga enough ‘yong space lalo na during a pandemic at 24/7 kaming naka-lockdown sa house with a toddler and soon, a newborn,” Jannica tells SmartParenting.com.ph.

IN PHOTO: The soon-to-be family of four.


Fortunately, Jannica’s sister referred an apartment in Binondo that measures around 120sqm, with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and an extra room that can be used as a maid’s quarters.

“Perfect timing talaga because the moment I found out I was pregnant with baby number two, sakto ‘yong pag-move out ng isang tenant ng building where she also lives kaya she was able to tell me agad. Para bang meant to be na mapunta sa amin itong unit,” she happily recalls.

Giving an old apartment a cozy new look


IN PHOTO: Before the makeover, signs of wear and tear can be seen in every corner of the house.

watch now

When it comes to renting a home, working on major renovations is usually not allowed or would require permission from the landlord. Fortunately, the owner of the building gave the Suillans the go signal to improve the space.

“Since the building is already 36 years old, sira na ‘yong mga lababo sa CR, ang dudumi na ng mga tiles, and may mga tulo na din sa ceiling. Pati ‘yong mga windows ang hirap na buksan since super old na ang design. The owner was very supportive sa request namin,” Jannica says.

In transforming the unit, the couple settled on an inviting feel reminiscent of resorts and staycations. To achieve the relaxing ambiance they wanted, they worked with neutral colors like white, brown, and gray.

Para makatipid, kami lang ni Toff ang nag-plan and design. The workers naman, ni-refer ng building owner since sila daw ‘yong trusted na every time may kailangan ipa-renovate,” the soon-to-be mom of two shares.


See the inspiring transformation of the apartment below:


IN PHOTO: The current entryway features a disinfecting station which is a must these days. They use a step ladder to access the area that functions as Asher’s outdoor play area. It’s also where they hang clothes to dry. 


Having an open mind about renovating a rented space inspired the family to push through with the project. “Those renting na maraming bawal, I suggest looking up inspiration on Youtube or Pinterest. There are plenty of renter-friendly renovation ideas you can find,” advises Jannica.

IN PHOTO: The kitchen is one of the most captivating areas in the house as it has plenty of storage solutions, a kitchen island, and an extra countertop.


IN PHOTO: Having a bar was important for Jannica and Toff so they can have a coffee station. “Coffee shops served as our pegs so we can still enjoy our coffee dates even at home,” says Jannica.

Sticking to a neutral color palette, they added warmth to the living room with wooden slats that also serve as an accent wall. They chose to mount the TV on the wall and hide the wires for a clutter-free look.


IN PHOTO: The Suillans have already decorated the home for the holidays! 

IN PHOTO: Mirror-magic! The owners opted for a mirrored wall with a geometric design to make the space look bigger.


While you can always work with adhesive hooks and wall stickers, being able to revamp the home according to your needs is a big plus. If you have the approval and budget, go for it.

Inalis din namin ‘yong thinking na, ‘sayang naman mag-renovate kung nagre-rent lang din.’ For us, iniisip namin na long-term stay kami dito,” Jannica advises. Renting long-term works for the family since their business is in Binondo and buying their own home is not part of their immediate plans yet.

IN PHOTO: (LEFT) The hallway leading to the rooms before the makeover. (RIGHT) Fresh coats of paint and varnish can make a difference! Most of the lighting pieces have a wooden base that help create a dramatic effect.


IN PHOTO: (LEFT) Asher's original room looked dark and gloomy. (RIGHT) Now Asher has a spacious room where he can play and stay active. Most of the items here came from their old home. 

Though they have a bigger space now, Jannica and her family still adhere to the principles of minimalism. Each belonging serves a purpose and they skip buying items they don’t need.


The family also makes sure each item has its own place to avoid clutter. “Once walang sariling lugar ang bagay na 'yan, magiging clutter siya. We also stick to our color palette. If it’s too ‘shocking,’ hindi siya pwede sa house,” explains Jannica.

IN PHOTO: Simple yet inviting, the revamped master bedroom follows the clutter-free look the owners wanted. 


IN PHOTO: They are slowly making space for the new baby with the crib in place and a comfy chair for breastfeeding placed near the bed. 

IN PHOTO: (LEFT) The bathroom needed a lot of work given the state of the tiles and fixtures. (RIGHT) Jannica and Toff worked on a modern look by opting for a black-and-white theme. “Naglagay lang kami ng rattan lighting piece and baskets to connect it to the overall concept,” Jannica explains. 


IN PHOTO: This area also serves as Asher’s outdoor play area which was previously featured on Smart Parenting. Jannica and Toff were able to liven up the space by adding artificial grass as flooring and hanging lights. 

Working on the renovation project definitely brought Jannica and Toff closer. They make it a point to arrive at a compromise when it comes to making decisions. After all, having a welcoming home is their dream.


Jannica muses, “Ngayong nakikita na namin ang actual, nakaka-proud at nakaka-happy kasi nag-sync ang mga pegs namin. Looking back, this home is something that God has blessed us with. We built a home founded in love and patuloy nafi-fill ng love ang home namin.

* * *

This story originally appeared on Smartparenting.com.ph.

* Minor edits have been made by the Realliving.com.ph editors.

More on Realliving.com.ph


Read more stories about

Latest Stories

Common Misconceptions About Minimalism, According to an Interior Designer

A minimalist home can most definitely still have splashes of color, and as long as it's done with restraint, those well-placed hues can actually be the highlight of your home.

Did You Know That Yassi Pressman Has A Lakehouse Airbnb in Canada?

Get a tour of Redkey Lakehouse in Ontario.

Ward Off Mosquitoes: Products to Buy During the Rainy Season

Because we want our homes to be safe havens.

Minimalist Furniture 101: How to Pick the Right Pieces for Your Home

Create a space that exudes simplicity and sophistication by choosing the right minimalist furniture for your home.

We Tested Different Mattresses, Here Are Our Top 5 Picks

Our writer tested (and lay down on) the beds in these mattress showrooms to see what feels good and which ones would fit within your budget

20 Common Construction Terms, Decoded

Don't get lost in translation with your foreman and avoid mistakes with this handy, on-site guide by a project manager

Here Are 7 Hotel-Like Bedsheets You Can Buy Online

Invest in your sleep and add these to your cart.

This Airbnb in Zambales Seamlessly Blends Modern Design & Probinsya Feels

This property can comfortably fit up to 40 people!

Check Out Jennylyn Mercado & Dennis Trillo’s Charming Mountain Hideaway

It has a greenhouse, several viewing decks, and much more.

MUJI’s New Airbnb is the Perfect Place to Experience A Slower, More Sustainable Lifestyle

Its design marries the traditional Japanese aesthetic with MUJI's trademark minimalism.

8 Practical Ways to Give Your Bathroom a Relaxing Vibe

Learn how to transform your bathroom into a peaceful retreat with these practical tips and tricks. Create a spa-like atmosphere and enhance your relaxation experience.

Everything You Need to Know About Minimalist Asian Aesthetic

It's worth the budol, if you think about it.
Load More Stories