A 10-Day Studio Unit Makeover

Proper space planning and the addition of sleek, smart must-haves helped transform this once dull and cramped home

Original Article: Tisha Alvarez Photography: Miguel Nacianceno Styling: Coni Tejada Interior Designer: Kristine Neri-Magturo

Given a small space to work with, many would initially assume that it's easier to style and decorate. While this can be true for some, there are homeowners who find it challenging to choose furniture pieces that fit and how to maximize the space. For this makeover, the owner had two adjacent units at her disposal—one serves as storage, while the other one functions as her primary house with living, dining, kitchen, and laundry areas.

Anyone would think that she can do a lot with the two units, but after three years of having access to the said spaces, both have become dull and disorganized. To help turn things around, interior designer Kristine Neri-Magturo stepped in. The designer identified space planning as the main problem and came up with solutions to improve the key unit. After removing a few pieces, defining the areas, and adding streamlined pieces, the home became more cohesive and welcoming.

Living Area

One of the two units was a gift given to the owner by her boyfriend. Since he works abroad, both spaces were left under the care of our makeover recipient. She wanted to improve the main unit as a way of giving back to her significant other. To transform the living area, interior designer Kristine Neri-Magturo worked with basic pieces, improved the layout, and added elements that would brighten up the space.

Mocha-hued paint was chosen to liven up the walls and give the unit an inviting and homey feel. Since two sofas used to take up most of the space, Kristine chose to retain only one and paired it with a custom-made center table. To make sure that the owner and her guests can move around freely, the pieces in the living area were positioned diagonally to open it up. Given this angle, the traffic is directed toward the back of the door leading to the outdoor space.

To give the owner a proper place to store her books and belongings, a custom-made shelf was added behind the sofa. It also functions as a divider that separates the living area from the study nook.

Kristine also opted to drop the ceiling so that pin lights can be added. This subtle yet clever solution not only illuminates the space, it also helped avoid having a mounted lighting piece with exposed moulding.

Dining Area

Instead of keeping the curtains that used to dress up the window, Kristine replaced it with custom-made Roman shades in chocolate brown. Aside from being more visually appealing, it also matches the new look of the unit.

Just like in any other small space, the mirror plays a huge role in making the unit seem bigger than it really is. A request of the owner, it is situated next to the original dining set. An industrial-style droplight hangs above it—further illuminating the room. One can best appreciate the colors chosen for the space from this angle—it is a relaxing balance of earthy colors like mocha and beige, with green as accent color.

Study Area

From having a mismatched computer table as a study desk, the owner now has a proper place for studying and a bit of Farmtown (her favorite game!) fun. The desk is another customized piece like the center table, shelf, and kitchen counter.

Look up and see the charming wall decals added by Kristine on the walls. Aside from the one in the study nook, birds in flight were also chosen for the living area. Meanwhile, a wall-mounted shelf can serve as extra storage or a perfect spot where the owner can display a framed print or photograph.

RL Tip: If you are also setting up a study or a reading nook, consider placing it by the window. Take advantage of the natural light and admire the view outdoors whenever your eyes need a break. You can also add a vase of flowers or a potted succulent for a refreshing touch.


Gone are the metal racks that used to store food items, pantry essentials, cooking must-haves, and appliances. Overhead cabinets were added to keep these things organized,while a customized kitchen counter was put in place to make prepping meals easier. It also holds some of the appliances and other decorative pieces.

To keep the kitchen from being too plain, a wall was coated in muted green—echoing the palette of the entire unit.

To keep clutter at bay, tiny wooden organizers from Robinsons Department Store were also brought in. Some were mounted on the wall to keep condiments accessible, while another holds bottles of vinegar and soy sauce, to name a few.

Laundry Area

You'll be surprised to know that this unit packs its own laundry area, too! What used to be a cramped and forgettable corner became a functional and inspiring nook. Since the owner's boyfriend owned the unit next door, Kristine hoped to build an access door, but the administration didn't approve of the said plan. The erected wall for the intended purpose didn't go to waste though as it helped define the laundry area and somehow keep the washing machine.

RL Tip: Don't forget to decorate even the tiniest of nooks! Take your cue from the photo above—framed photographs can instantly liven up a blank wall, while a stunning jar, vase, or urn can make a statement on its own.

Ready for your own makeover? Get in touch with interior designer Kristine Neri-Magturo at kristineneri[at] You may also call her at (0917) 500-0151.

 Read the original article ("A Superpoked Space") in the October 2009 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App. Log on to for more details.

*Ed's note: Final cost does not include designer's fee.

How Much It Costs:

Handyman Do It Best
Lights, carpentry, and electrical materials - P 12,000
True Value
Paint, paint materials, electrical materials, wastebasket - P 7,500
Robinsons Department Store
Frames, vases, and other accessories - P 20,500
Decals - P 3,000
Additional carpentry and electrical materials - P 11,029
Roman Shades (Fabric and Labor) - P 3,385
Other materials - P 1,283
Labor - P 16,300
Grand Total:

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