Tips and Guides

Mini Makeovers: From Dark and Drab into an Inviting Living Room

Cosmopolitan magazine's former managing editor turned a boring area into an all-white space perfect for relaxing and entertaining

Photography: Tammy David

For those who know Camille Besinga’s home style, they’d be surprised to see the place where she moved into with her husband Ryan Villena. “Everybody knew me as yung: ‘Ah, ikaw yung vintage, country!’” Because that was the style of their old apartment, featured in Real Living’s October 2010. But now that the couple has their own place, Camille, who is Cosmopolitan magazine’s former managing editor, decided to go a different route. “Nagsasawa na rin ako, baka it’s time na rin for konting sophistication.”

Though sophistication isn’t the only thing that Camille had to factor in when she was decorating their living area. When they moved into their own home, the couple was expecting their first child. “It’s just hard lang for me to really explore that sophistication kasi manganganak na ako. I have to tone it down kasi puro babasagin ang décor pag sophisticated ang style,” Camille explains.

From the former white-and-dark-wood living area that veered towards the tropical style, Camille transformed it into an airy family room by painting all the dark wood details white, and maintaining an all-white color palette in furnishings, with just a few touches of bright accents and grounding neutrals in the form of storage pieces and a rug. Yet in spite of this self-imposed restraint, Ryan and Camille’s living area still exudes playful sophistication that’s perfect for the new addition to their family.

Ryan and Camille's Old Living Room

Ryan and Camille’s main family living area wasn’t that bad, but the wooden architectural details such as the stairs and cabinets were all stained in a dark, wenge finish that made the room look smaller than it actually is. 

Choose white to unify the elements

Using an all-white palette is the easiest way to update and unify a room, as well as make it look more spacious and airy. White is also easy to dress up or down: just add bright and colorful accents for a young and playful look, or neutrals for a sophisticated and elegant look.  

Find affordable items with a chic appeal

Baby-proofing one’s home does not mean you have to sacrifice style. Take these pretty chairs, for instance. “It’s a good thing the chairs aren’t expensive, for one, and are plastic. So medyo they look elegant, but they’re still safe.”

Use pillows to spruce up a space

Alam ko cliché na ‘to, pero if I wanna change the look, pillows talaga really, really help, and they’re so cheap!” says Camille. The white pillows from Landmark break the contrasting pink and green ones from SM Homeworld. The pillow with a cat design is a gift from Camille’s boss, Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief Myrza Sison.  

Opt for decorative storage pieces

Furniture that can also serve as storage space is definitely a must for a household with kids. “I was looking at my sister’s house and her house is full of toys, so ano yung mangyayari sa bahay ko? I figured…under the coffee table, there’s a basket there that’s full of magazines. I’m sure that’s gonna be replaced by toys,” Camille reckons. 


Camille also chose a whitewashed birdcage that looks sweet and pretty. It is also used to store tiny trinkets and knick knacks. “When we were already here, and nakita ko nga na hindi s’ya masyadong child-friendly, I started na tanggalin yung babasagin na vase, palitan ng kahoy, like the birdcage. Kung merong maliliit na objects, ilagay sa birdcage,” she explained.

Pick a few whimsical pieces

Since Camille and Ryan love cats, they found pieces that depicted their favorite four-legged animal. One of the items is a charming wall clock from Dimensione.


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