Tips and Guides

Designer Q and A for December 30

Design expert Lilli Beth Gelvezon shares ideas for a 30sqm unit, 40sqm apartment and other homes


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Read the original article ("Ask It") in the May 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. 

Style Police for the Police

Q: Being a fan of your magazine, I went to the shops recommended in the Directory of your magazine. I visited all of the trade fair exhibits, and went to some secondhand shops. That was how I got my Le Corbusier chaise lounge for only P6,500 and down feather sectional sofas from Italy(!) for only P15,000. I have to be resourceful as your style editor Gwyn Guanzon preached since my budget is very limited, so I discovered Pioneer Street and this is where I got a four-poster bed for only P12,000 and real oak beds for my two children for only P4,000 each.

My problem now is how to put them altogether to make them gel into my small living room and bedrooms for which reason I’m sending this SOS to you. Please help me put my finds together, as my husband and I are PNP officers and for the past 12 years have been living in a 30sqm housing unit inside Camp Crame, though we will soon transfer to a bigger home in Cainta when that is done. Many thanks! — MIRIAM S. GUIALANI  

A: Without the actual plan and the details of the pieces, it wouldn’t be possible to determine the proper layout for your living space but I could give you a few tips on how you can put your new stuff together. First off, it seems that the Le Corbusier chaise lounge and the sectional sofas will complement each other. But will both of them fit in your small living room? If they won’t, put the chaise lounge inside your master bedroom instead. When buying new furniture, you will encounter challenges in harmonizing them with your existing pieces and accessories. Use your discerning eye. Move around the new and old pieces to see what layout works best. For now, some mismatching is acceptable. But before you transfer to your Cainta home, you should think about replacing pieces that don’t really fit the style and the look you want. And since you’ve been resourceful and saved money on furniture, you can afford to hire an interior designer to help you decorate your future home. 

Q: My husband and I got an apartment-type house with floor area of about 40sqm. I want to make its interiors colorful, elegant, and simply breathtaking. This is our starter home so I’d like every detail to work. Since we have a low ceiling in the dining area, do you think it’ll work if we put stripes in a blood red shade? Also, is it all right if I design the ceiling using paint rollers? I also want a mural somewhere on the staircase wall. Do you know any muralist based in Cebu? It would be great if you could give me an idea how much a custom-made mural usually costs. - BETH

A: Vertical stripes will make your dining area appear larger. Since the space is small, narrow stripes are best instead of wide ones. I commend your brave choice of color for the stripes but make sure that there is a little bit of red scattered around the whole room. When painting the ceiling with rollers, don’t forget to cover your furniture and flooring properly and extensively to avoid hassle.

A mural will definitely bring you one step closer to having breathtaking interiors. Murals elicit reactions and create impact—which could go either way: positive or negative. To avoid having any negative feedback on your wall art, get the services of muralists that have been tried and tested for years. Contact Alfred Galvez here:

As for the cost, it varies from project to project because it depends on the design and the size of the area to be painted. 

DIY vs. Professional Services

Q: After my husband’s hard work abroad, I think we finally have sufficient money to start our dream house. We don’t know if we should hire an architect and buy our own materials or hire a contractor to supply all materials and literally take charge of everything (with our approval, of course). The latter option looks hassle-free. However, we think we’ll be able to save with the first option because we could monitor costs. But we have doubts if there’s much difference. Money-wise, which of the two is the better option? – JOAN ALCARAZ-SANTIAGO

A: Money-wise, it’s best to get an architect and a contractor who know what they’re doing. In the case of purchasing supplies, you have to weigh things out. Do you have time to buy your own materials? Do you have free time during weekends? If the answer is no to both questions, you don’t have a choice but to hire someone to buy for you. Construction becomes expensive and becomes a hassle when materials are not readily available. Experienced contractors know what to purchase and where to purchase inexpensive construction supplies, so you get to save money there.

On the other hand, there is the satisfaction and security of finding the materials yourselves. However, this will take up much of your free time (for a few months) and will include a lot of traveling from one place to another to look for bargains. The compromise is to find a contractor you trust wholeheartedly—someone who knows what you want and will help you get the best prices on quality supplies.


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