Tips and Guides

Designer Q and A for October 31 (Part 2)

Discover how to start a low-maintenance garden and a few kiddie room headboard reminders


Got a design question? We’d love to help! Like us on Facebook <> or follow us on Twitter and Instagram: @reallivingph 

Read the original article ("Ask It”) in the May 2007 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App now! Log on to for more details. 

Easy Greens

Q: I want to have a Pinoy-style garden, with plants that are available in any plant supplier, especially here in Cebu City. The grounds serve as the perimeter fence of our house in which the fencing material is made of bamboo splits.  The area is quite sunny from around 9AM to 2PM. I don't have time to garden on schooldays because I'm a teacher, and I'm also a mother of a two-year-old boy. I can only spend at least an hour gardening on Saturdays and Sundays. - Dolorosa Dayondon

A: An hour or two during the weekends is enough to cultivate a living, breathing garden-if it's small enough and if you have low-maintenance plants. If you're worried that your thumb might not be green enough to keep plants alive, look for sanseviera or mother-in-law's tongue (which is very affordable, needs moderate watering and little fertilizing), sago palm (which does well in direct sunlight), and other plants that require no special attention. Minimalist Zen style gardens are also recommended for people who don't want to tend to a number of different plant species. With this garden style, it's ideal to have only about six types of plants for a simpler and cleaner look.

The rest of the space would be filled up by pebble paths, boulders, or paving stones. You would definitely have an easier gardening experience with this kind of backyard. Give this Japanese style the Pinoy touch by using rattan furniture, native plants, and colorful flowers. If all else fails and you still keep seeing brown where there should be green, you should definitely surrender your watering can to a professional gardener. 


Decor Ideas

Q: I am clueless as to what kind of decor I should place inside the cabinet that I inherited from my mother. It used to be where my mother kept her clothes. The cabinet's color is antique brown, and it's now in my living room. Please help me choose the right decor that will suit it. I hope that the decor will not only add beauty to my cabinet but also make it a standout. - Zorhayda G. Molina

A: Since your cabinet is an inheritance, it would be nice if you use it to display family heirlooms. Look at your treasured possessions-old china from your aunt, a music box from your grandmother, collected art from your father's travels. Display items that complement each other in design and in color. Using heirlooms would be so much more personal than buying new dŽcor. But if you don't have enough inherited objects, try to mix them up with newly bought home accessories. If you already have finely detailed antiques, plain and earthy ceramic vases or plates would provide interesting contrast. You can purchase these at Our Home at SM Megamall or at any SM Department Store. For the adventurous decorator, include tiny, framed prints or paintings in your display. And if you really want to flaunt the beauty of your showcased pieces, proper lighting installed inside the cabinet would be a big help.

(Another good place to hunt for old-world pieces for your cabinet: the Antiques Village at Tiendesitas along C-5, Pasig City.-Ed.)


Curtain Call

Q: We bought our house six years ago with an early 1980s design to it. We have made some major repairs but still haven't achieved the look we want due to our tight budget. I'd like to give it a new look, beginning with my windows, which still has this 80s design with smoked glass, steel casement panels and a double arc transom. Every room in the house has the same kind of window.  How can I give it a modern country look that it needs without spending much? - Dahlia Cabalquinto

A: Modern country style and the 80s are two things I wouldn't necessarily associate with each other. Full curtain window treatments will kill two birds with one stone-it will cover up those eighties style windows and it will give that country look you desire. Blue and white or red and white gingham, striped, or plaid curtains are the more obvious choices to get that contemporary-country feel. To save money, you can find affordable fabrics in Divisoria or at Kamuning market and have them machine sewn by your neighborhood mananahi. It would be more costly to buy ready-made curtains and you might not get the exact style that you want. Tiebacks and valances will complete the design. For a subtler look, you can use plain cotton or cheesecloth curtains and incorporate the modern country aesthetic in smaller doses, e.g., folksy furniture, beadboard wainscoting, patterned bedding and arts-and-crafts-y accessories.     


Headboard How-to

Q: I am interested in possibly installing cushioned headboards in my kids' rooms because I figured they could be space-savers since you can place the bed nearer the wall. Moreover, they look elegant, especially the ones that reach the ceiling and have recessed lighting at the back. What are the best color/s to use and would installation be costly? - Joan Cerruda

A: It wouldn't be too costly since all the materials you'll need to build this are readily available (plywood, fabric, etc.) and it's not that complicated to install. As a matter of fact, you can even do this yourself (although I wouldn't recommend it to anyone not handy with the saw and hammer). Any cost incurred will be worth the look on your kids' faces when they see their one-of-a-kind beds.

Lighting at the back of the headboard would not only be a decorative addition but a functional one as well-it can serve as a night light for your kids when they go to sleep. Since the headboards are for children's rooms, you can afford to use bolder and more vibrant colors. Cobalt blue is young and contemporary. Candyfloss pink will look great in a little girl's room if mixed with pastels. Taking it a notch higher would be to use unevenly striped fabric with a mixture of different shades like blues and oranges or blues and turquoises or yellows, oranges, and reds. But don't go overboard with pattern-if you use a simpler design, it will look more elegant. 


Latest Stories

A Filipino Designed This Space-Savvy Modern House in Singapore

It even has its own lap pool!

Would You Try "Death Cleaning?"

We've got everything you need to know about this new Swedish decluttering trend

5 Secrets Of A Functional Kitchen

Are you dreaming of having the most efficient scullery? These tips might just do the trick.

11 Peg-Worthy Celebrity Christmas Trees

From showcasing dainty blooms to using quirky ornaments, these personalities have taken the decorating game to the next level

This Quiapo Day Tour Will Make You Love Old Manila Again

Go on a DIY Quiapo adventure and look beyond the vendors. Say a prayer, have your fortune told, take a peek at a mysterious pagoda, and visit beautiful ancestral houses from a more genteel past.

10 Ways To Make Your Shoes Last Forever

Show your favorite pairs some tender loving care with these tips

A One-Bedroom Unit Transformed into a Two-Bedroom Home

The designers of this 45sqm condo in Manila created a functional space with an urban contemporary appeal that’s perfect for its young occupants

Here's Why You Should Skip Bringing Your Phone To The Bathroom

Trust us, liking that photo on Instagram can wait for a few minutes

7 Planners For An Inspired 2018

Stay organized and keep your goals in sight with these picks

These Christmas Ornaments Will Make You Feel Like Dancing

Celebrate a yearly Christmas ballet tradition with The Nutcracker collection

15 Calming Photos of Modern Minimalist Homes

Because less is more

10 Life-Changing Cleaning Habits For Lazy People

We've got the strategies for keeping an impeccably clean house without losing your mind
Load More Stories

Get inspiring design ideas and handy hints.
Subscribe to our newsletter now!