Tips and Guides

Designer Q and A for October 26 (Part 2)

Learn how to deal with peeling paint on your walls, furnish your home with colonial furniture, and more decorating basics


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Read the original article ("Ask It”) in the June 2006 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App now! Log on to for more details. 

Peeling Problem

Q: After two years, the paint on my walls is cracking and starting to peel off. And in the kitchen, there are some oil splats. What should I do about these? I also want relaxing colors for other areas in the house. What colors should I use? - Meng Yaun

A: Repainting will solve your oil stain and peeling paint dilemma. If you want to cut down on costs, make this into a do-it-yourself project. First, remove any loose paint and sand the surface smooth and prime it, because one of the causes of peeling is poor surface preparation. Hairline wall cracks can be filled in with plaster paste or masilya. After the paste dries, do a little sanding before painting. If the cracks reappear, call your contractor, as you might have to deal with a more serious structural problem. With regards to color suggestions, cool shades of shell pink, sky blue, and apple green are tranquil and soothing. Mix these with different neutral shades, like whites and creams.

Fit to Live

Q: I want to renovate our home for our growing kids. It used to be a showroom for my husband's family's business so it doesn't look homey. The style of the place very 80s, much like your January-February makeover winner. But I'd like to keep my husband's furniture with lots of carvings. - Rina Gonzalez

A: Before you redecorate, you have to be clear on what specific style you want. You can base your home's whole design on your husband's Spanish colonial furniture. Try going for a traditional Spanish-Filipino design or for a more modern interpretation of this style. The book Tropical Living by Elizabeth Reyes features a lot of interesting Filipino houses that can inspire you. Next step: lay out the rooms to accommodate the various activities of your family members. Look for furniture that don't only look good but also feel warm and comfortable. Then accessorize with family pictures and memorabilia to personalize the areas.

Pushed to a Corner

Q: I would like to have two wooden seats with armrests custom-made for our inverted L-shaped living room. However, I don't like the thought of the armrests meeting at the corner. I'm thinking of replacing one seat with a bench but I really prefer to have seats with armrests. -Portia E.

A: The easiest solution is, as you said, to replace the other seat with an armless one. But the easiest solution isn't always the best. Perhaps you need a buffer. Maybe what irks you more than the armrests is the empty space created in the corner. You can liven up that dead spot with a decorative element like a side table, floor lamp, or a tall houseplant. Any of these will distract your eyes from those "converging" armrests.       


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