Tips and Guides

Design School: Designer Tricks and Furnishings (Part 1)

Use the designer tricks applied in these commercial spaces for your own home


Milk + Tea Station’s Bacolod branch drips of vintage panache done right. It is filled with pieces that poke at nostalgia, but not too many as to resemble the set of a period movie. Interior designer Kristine Neri-Magturo whipped up a design based on the owners’ pegs. The 38-sqm shop only had room for furniture and décor, which, when put together, create a soothing earthy-retro mix. 

Photographed by Vincent Coscolluela and Miguel Nacianceno (Marriott Hotel).

Read the original article ("Commercial Break") in the August 2012 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App now! Log on to for more details.  

Vintage Flair + Ethereal Style

Designer Trick #1: Highlight the walls

 Though the tuxedo sofa here is a looker, the decorative panel with graphic print is what you’d notice first in this picturesque seating space. 

The same holds true for engineered wood planks from Rockstone. “It was the best material to use as the main backdrop and platform as it brings warmth and a laidback feel to the space. We got it as is and didn’t have to finish it anymore, no topcoats either,” relates designer Kristine. 

Designer Trick #2: Opt for a layout conducive to conversations.

What’s great about a limited floor area is that it only needs a little push to become truly cozy and intimate.

On the elevated part of the space, Kristine laid out two open sitting areas with a casual group of mismatched chairs, ottoman, and solid wood stools that do double duty as side tables. 

Designer Trick #3: Think of choosing décor as a make-or-break matter.

Instead of regarding them as an afterthought, small details like tabletop accessories should merit the same amount of consideration given to big-ticket pieces like the sofa—unless you’re gunning for a crazy, anything-goes eclectic look. Notice the retro-looking elements such as electric fan, luggage, typewriter, and camera on the bookshelf and side tables, which solidify the design concept. Another tip: Try not to make the vignette look too studied; inject a surprising element (in this case, cubes in highlighter-bright green fitted into random shelf slots) or display pieces in askew manner. 

Excited for more designer tips and tricks? Watch out for the second part of our story next week!


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