Tips and Guides

Designer Q and A for November 2

Learn how to decorate a one-bedroom condo and furnish a purple living room


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Read the original article ("Ask It”) in the March 2010 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App now! Log on to for more details. 

Three's Company

Q: I have three girls (ages 8, 12 and 16) who are sharing a room, and I think it is time to give their room a makeover. They have outgrown some of their little girls' stuff and I would like to get some ideas on how to make their room more suitable for their age. I'm also thinking of repainting the walls of their room. Any advice? -Terry Tan

A: The first thing to do is to consult your girls on the decor of their room. Teens and pre-teens have very specific tastes and interests. Decorate around their hobbies and collections, but don't fall into the trap of using solid themes like unicorns or Star Wars-you need a classic look that will stand the test of time. For the walls, you should try tangerine-it's a fun and feminine color, but it's not too girly or childish. Use white or khaki accessories and furniture to diffuse the vibrancy of the walls. Remember, balance is key. Give each daughter a private area for studying and sleeping and a separate public space for playing and entertaining. And don't forget to provide lots of storage space! Believe me, they'll thank you for it.

One-Bedroom Wonder

Q: I'm moving into my one-bedroom condo unit and I'd like to furnish it, little by little. I got ideas from reading home magazines and books, but I still do not feel fully equipped when it comes to furnishing my home. What basic furnishings do I need for a start-up condo? -Michel Niere

A: The challenge in furnishing a condo is its limited space. Make sure everything you have is necessary and functional. Once you have a bed, storage cabinets, a sofa and dining set, a coffee table, and a couple of side tables, you're all set. But you can't rule out style. Find that one piece of furniture that you're truly in love with and base your decorating style on it. Since you plan to furnish the unit little by little, you have time to think of your present and future needs. Is it wise to buy an expensive dining set for four for your condo when you might be buying a bigger home in a few years? Should you splurge on that comfy sofa bed for your future houseguests? Will everything fit into their respective spaces? There are a lot of things to consider, but if you plan ahead, decorating your start-up condo will be a breeze.

The Color Purple

Q: I love the colors purple and pink, and I want to put those colors in my living room so my guests can see my personality. But I am a bit hesitant because they might make the room look super-sweet. Any suggestions on how I can properly use them? -Purple Fan

A: A purple and pink living room can either be refreshing or overpowering. It all depends on how you use your favorite colors. Make "everything in moderation" your mantra. Keep the permanent and semi-permanent basics like wall color, flooring, and furniture in the neutral color family. Bring out your lively personality in the details and accessories. Scour the home and lifestyle shops for colorful lamps, pillows, drapery, and vases. Don't look for just one type of pink or one type of purple, though. Create character and texture in the space by using accessories in different varieties and shades of your favorite hues. For example, combine small doses of old rose, baby pink, and fuchsia with touches of lilac, deep purple, and violet.

Organizing for Sisters

Q: I share my bedroom with my two sisters, one older and one younger, and I find it hard to keep it organized. My younger sister is still in school, so most of the things on our desk and in our shelves are hers-books, notebooks, pens, and papers. My older sister is in her late 20s, and even if her things are organized, our room has a cluttered feel because the things you see belong to three girls of different age brackets. What's the best thing for me to do? - Dorothy Reyes, San Juan

A: Ample and appropriate storage is always important in any space. Your room understandably feels cluttered because there are three of you who use the room. The solution is to keep things hidden. Open shelves are not ideal in this situation because your things are so varied and might look messy displayed together. Closed cabinetry is the way to go. A desk with extra storage will also help. These will make your room look clean, streamlined, and organized. But of course, these functional furnishings and built-in pieces can only do so much. I'm sure, though, that you and your sisters will give the extra effort needed to keep things in their proper, hidden places.


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