Tips and Guides

Designer Q and A for December 27

Design expert Lilli Beth Gelvezon offers advice on how to improve your own home


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Read the original article ("Ask It") in the January 2008 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App now! Log on to for more details. 

Comfy Couch

Q: We live in a modest house with a small living room, approximately 7sqm. At present, we have an ugly upholstered sofa set that looks inappropriate for the space. Our household helper sleeps on the couch because we don't have an extra room for her.  We would like to finally get a new set but we don't know what to go for. We want a small-scale sofa but we have to take into consideration our helper. Personally, I would like to buy a daybed. Do you think this would work? - Christine P.

A: A daybed or a sofa bed is a good option to replace your dual-purpose set. SM Homeworld and Our Home have some good-looking and comfy pieces on display. Wait for sale periods (like the end of May) when prices go down up to 50-75% before you purchase anything. Also, before going on a sofa-shopping spree, make sure you take measurements of your living room, which you should bring with you when you go to stores. Don’t limit your scouting selection to convertible sofas. As long as the cushion is not too hard or too soft, a regular three-seater sofa can be relaxing enough for all-night slumber. At the stores, feel free to lie down on whatever item you’re drawn to, because in this case, comfort is just as important as style.

One-room Residence

Q: At 24, I'm already married and have two kids. We are living with our in-laws and we have one room that's big enough for our young family. But I'm having a problem redecorating our room. Since the house is not ours, I don't know how to start. It is an old house so it's infested with termites. I hope you could give me ideas on how to build a better home for my family. - Adeline Therese Dayao

A: To build a better home, you have to start with a solid foundation. Deal with your termite problem first. Contact a pest-control company like Pest-Away Corporation ( or Bayer Environmental Science ([02] 4503758 to 59) for inspection and proper treatment. Then you can begin assessing the design of your room. Ask yourself the following: How does your family use the room? Do you get enough light and ventilation? Do you have enough storage? What design style is most attractive to you? The answers to these questions should jumpstart your redecoration. Since it’s just a temporary abode, make it simple but functional. Reserve grander ideas for your future dream home. And don’t forget to consult with your in-laws!

Dream Theme

Q: Our house is a two-storey three-bedroom structure with a big backyard, a Koi pond, and a terrace. I'd like to have a Southeast Asian theme, but at the same time would like to have furniture pieces that are durable, low-maintenance, affordable, and would go well with our theme. Please give us tips on achieving this specific theme. - Cristina Martin

A: Based on your description of your home, a Southeast Asian theme seems like the perfect fit. The most challenging aspect of designing interiors with a mixture of styles is how to create harmony. For example, you could combine simple furniture with embellished sculptural pieces for a more balanced look. For guidance and inspiration, find the book Tropical Living by Elizabeth V. Reyes. It devotes a whole section to beautiful Philippine homes with perfectly executed Asian fusion design. To achieve this style on a budget, you’ll need to scour antique shops and budget-friendly areas. I’ve seen some really affordable wood pieces in Tiendesitas. 


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