An Unfinished House Gets an Extreme Makeover

Designer Aouie Lao worked with striking colors, well-chosen accessories, and time-tested small space solutions to give this three-year-old house a needed upgrade

Original Article: Amillah Rodil Photography: Miguel Nacianceno Styling: Gwyn GS Guanzon Interior Designer: Aouie Lao

Tight spaces are already challenging to work with—what more if these are cluttered and unfinished, too? This compact family home needed a bit of work. Aside from the bare walls that make it look drab and uninviting, the living, dining, and kitchen areas also occupy a cramped L-shaped space. Since the dining area is squeezed between the living area and the kitchen, enjoying meals together posed another problem as the makeshift table can only accommodate two people at a time.

To help solve these and give the owners a fresh start, Real Living once again worked with designer Aouie Lao. The house underwent an epic transformation—with bold tomato red walls breathing life to the main areas, elegant fixtures completing the new look, and a few simple adjustments to make the most of the space. At the end of the makeover, the lady of the house is beyond excited to finally show the “brand new” house to her husband.

The living area occupies the wide leg of the L-shaped layout of the home's main areas. Prior to the makeover, a stack of shoeboxes can be seen by door, beside the console holding the TV. To improve this corner, the boxes and other unnecessary items were removed. Aouie chose to paint the wall behind the TV in light green. Horizontal stripes in green and a lighter shade were painted on the wall beside it to create an illusion of a bigger space.

The captivating tomato red walls are hard to miss. Aouie chose complementing colors for the makeover—red was chosen for the longer wall, while the rest highlights a refreshing shade of green. "The red looks stimulating, while the green looks relaxing," says the owner. This move proves that dark colors can work in small spaces, too. It all boils down to how you'll use it and which color you'll pair it with.

A couple of weeks before the makeover, the owner purchased two sofas for the living area. To make it more spacious, Aouie retained the three-seater piece. Since the sofa was delivered with a defect, she used this as an opportunity to ask for a replacement with a lighter beige fabric that matches the home's new color scheme.

This lovely find from Handyman Do It Best not only keeps the living area well-illuminated, it ensures proper ventilation, too.

The right curtains can help set the mood in a space and make it seem taller. Aouie chose 96-inch-long ready-made curtains in white and beige to dress up the windows. The curtains were installed 12-inches higher than the top of the window to accommodate the length of the curtains. "Regardless of the window height, I really prefer floor-to-ceiling curtains because it provides a softer and warmer background for the room," she says.

Two wooden shelves from Our Home were installed on the living area's walls to hold various decor pieces and books. These were installed high given the small space and to prevent accidents if a tall person is sitting on one end of the dining table.

RL Tip: When shopping for home accessories, keep in mind that you don't need to splurge. "Accessories don't have to be expensive. They just have to be well chosen," says Aouie. For this makeover, she chose the pieces based on form and color. Since the walls are already impactful, the designer chose to keep the accessories neutral.

What used to be a teeny-tiny dining area with only a makeshift table is now an inviting space where meals can be shared and enjoyed. Aouie brought in a wooden dining set to complement the home's new bold colors. For a cohesive look, the shade of its wood was used as the basis for the wood stain on the doors.

To complete the space, the designer also installed a beveled mirror above the table—reflecting the classy glass droplights. Since it's installed 16 inches higher than the table, the owners can see the people entering the house.

Loved the glass droplights, too? Lighting can help improve any area's ambiance. These pieces used to have an inner layer of colored frosted glass—Aouie took these out to make it simpler and to keep it from clashing with the color of the walls.

The home's exterior was given a new and finished look, too! New green wonders were planted and the facade was painted in a color that complements the chosen shades for the interiors.

Ready for your own makeover? Get in touch with designer Aouie Lao through e-mail at: aouie[at]

Read the original article ("Oh my God! Is this my house?") in the September 2005 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 Center
Paint and painting materials - P 7,949
Uniwide EDSA Central
Dining table, Curtain rod for drapes - P 5,595
SM Department Store
Side table, curtain rod for sheer curtain, Taffy curtain panels, Sheer white curtain panels, Green throw pillow, various accessories - P 4,900
Center table, ceiling fan with light - P 5,900
Kultura Filipino
Resin table lamp, Mother and child figurine - P 1,549
Our Home
Beech wall-mounted shelves, Throw pillows, accessories - P 1,899
Beveled mirror - P 2,280
Regalong Pambahay
Ball candles - P 105
Labor—painting and carpentry - P 4,500
Labor—electrical works - P 700
Grand Total:

More on

An Eight-Day Makeover for a Bare Concrete House

A 10sqm Bedroom Makeover

A Refreshing Living-Dining Makeover For A Family Home


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