An Improved Apartment for Five Housemates

See how designer Vivian Gacad improved the living, dining, and kitchen areas of this shared home

Original Article: Tisha Alvarez Photography: Miguel Nacianceno Styling: Issa Villar Interior Designer: Vivian Gacad

Every once in a while, we stumble upon articles discussing shared spaces, harmonious co-living, and how to make decisions with roommates. These seem interesting—after all, it’s important to live in a space where you can relax, have a say on the décor and look, and develop friendships. Lucky for the occupants of this apartment in Pasig, getting used to each other’s quirks and personalities didn’t pose a problem. They all get along and have transformed the space into a unique home filled with their favorite things.

However, after years of living in the space, the apartment started to show signs of wear and tear. Clutter took over the kitchen, the living room looked less inviting, and the house simply needed an overall boost. To help the owners achieve an improved space, designer Vivian Gacad worked on the living, dining, and kitchen areas. Patterns and refreshing colors were used on the walls, new pieces breathed life into tired nooks, and clever solutions opened up the areas and made the first floor more spacious.

Living Area

Some of the problems that need to be addressed in the area include the old flooring, the exposed columns behind the sofa, and the dated pieces of furniture. To conceal the cement flooring, Vivian chose to cover it with vinyl tiles. Since the old flooring added to the cramped and dark look of the apartment, the tiles with parquet design in a light hue made the first floor seem livelier and more open.

Here's a fun trivia: the bench that works as a coffee table in the living area was bought for only P200 from a carinderia. To spruce it up, Vivian added accessories from Robinsons Department Store and some of the owners' belongings.

The housemates didn't like the exposed columns in the living area. To hide it, the designer painted a checkered pattern in shades of green to create an illusion of a straight wall. The new furniture pieces complemented the patterns perfectly—creating a unified look.

Vivian also combined colors that all five housemates prefer to complete the look of the first floor. Green and gray dominate the space, with orange serving as accent color. The floor lamp and black chairs are from Mandaue Foam, while the accessories and pillows are from Robinsons Department Store.

Kitchen and Dining Areas

Would you believe that the housemates used a floor mat as divider? To maximize the space and to avoid a cramped look, Vivian installed movable wood panels to define one area from another. She paired it with a compact console from Mandaue Foam.

To add drama, the designer created a cove ceiling then added a light-colored ceiling fan for proper ventilation.

While it's good to welcome change and improvement, it's also important to keep a few original details so as to preserve the character and feel of the home. Vivian retained the old screen that hides one of the owner's work area. To keep the white fabric from being too plain, interesting details were sewn into it.


Vivian was able to transform the cluttered kitchen into a bright and functional space by getting rid of some of the items, repainting the cabinets, and adding extra shelves.

Instead of keeping the small appliances on the kitchen counter, a metal rack holds these and the dinnerware. Meanwhile, the wall-mounted shelves can be used to hold photographs and decor.

The apartment also serves as the place where the housemates can invite friends and guests for get-togethers. To accommodate them, Vivian added various seating options in the living area—the three-seater sofa, two chairs, and floor pillows. In the dining room, the six-seater dining table takes the spotlight—enabling them to host more visitors, too.

Ready for your own makeover? Get in touch with interior designer Vivian Gacad at (0917) 532-8484.

 Read the original article ("Men's Room") in the April 2008 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:

Mandaue Foam
Ceiling light, floor lamp, dining set, TV cabinet, Black chair (2 pieces), Console table, Dimple 3-Seater sofa - P 33,995
Robinsons Department Store
Throw pillows, candles, area rug, decorative accessories, kitchen utensils, wine rack, serving dishes, artwork, frames - P 30,165
Other items: ceiling fan (from Handyman), shelves (from Handyman), electrical materials (flatcords, switches, pinlights), carpentry materials (vinyl tiles, plywood, nails, shelves), paint materials (paint, brushes, rollers) - P 20,032
Labor for carpentry, painting, and electrical - P 5,000
Grand Total:

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