Tips and Guides

Property of the Week: Cozy up your Condo

So you’ve finally sealed the deal for your own condo unit. Now how do you go about decorating it?


The whole process of getting your own condo unit, from scouting prospective developments to finally seeing your name on the lot title, is exciting. The next big task is decorating your new place, which is an equally thrilling experience. However, the latter can also be daunting.

After the unit has been turned over to you, it might be overwhelming to start decorating your space and making it more you. There’s the matter of how you’re going to fit everything you’ve acquired before you made the big move, or if the developer will even permit the structural changes you want done in your unit. So, before doing major renovation work, check first with your condo’s administration to know what can and cannot be done to the unit. You might be fantasizing about putting intricate shelving on one wall, only to realize, too late, that you’re not allowed to do any. After all, even if you do own the unit, there are still rules and regulations that you have to abide by.

Once you’ve taken notes of the do’s and don’ts, you’re now ready to start personalizing your nest. To get you started, here are some administration-rules- friendly design tips from Alice Erfe, the architect and designer behind the model units of Rockwell’s The Grove.

Styling by Dagny Madamba. Photographed by Kurt Alvarez. Shot on location at The Grove Rockwell Land.

Read the original article in the August 2013 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App ( now! Log on to for more details.  

Open everything up.

Many homeowners immediately buy one air-conditioner for each room in a condo, but in some units, this may not be necessary, since opening the available windows can make the place presko. The openings of a typical condo unit are usually limited to two exterior walls. Keep the doors open to let the air circulate and prevent your place from being too stuffy. For windows, choose curtain fabrics that are sheer and easy to maintain.

Add a cove.

“If the ceiling height permits it, add a cove lighting,” Alice suggests. A cove is a lowered portion of a ceiling, usually made of ficem board or plywood, that’s used to create depth and interest. Recessed lights can be inserted into the cove itself. “It adds ambiance to the space.” But be wary of the length of the pendant and drop lights. If the height is less that 2.5 meters, you can go for recessed lighting instead. This adds drama without the bulk.

Inject character

Personal favorites like books, framed travel photos, a collection of bottles—any item that you think best illustrates your personality— are a no-fail way to add more character to your place. Such pieces will also give your space a lived-in look. Just be sure to arrange them so that they form interesting vignettes.

Proportion it.

Moving the contents of a large house into a tiny condo can be formidable, but know that you can still use your old pieces. “The trend of going from big houses to small condos is all about shift in proportion. A room can still look large with downsized furniture,” says Alice. The trick is picking smallersized pieces from your old house, and buying new furniture customized to fit your smaller condo. A condo unit’s interior dimensions are smaller compared with a bungalow’s, so it’s better to have built-in storage systems. By having builtin cabinets, even vertical spaces are maximized and used efficiently.

Make sure your pieces fit!

Some homeowners make the mistake of buying furniture pieces—like large tables and massive beds—that won’t even fit into the service elevator. Huge pieces like these need to be lifted through the fire exit! If you insist on large furniture, make sure it can be dismantled.

Mirror image.

Cop this space-expanding strategy used by many interior designers: placing mirrors in strategic places widens a limited space. You can hang mirrors with intricate frames, or go minimalist by leaving the mirrors bare.

Go for art.

Alice says one of the easiest ways to spruce up your wall without major repainting is to add big art pieces. The latter become the focal point on an otherwise drab wall, and will add character and color to the space.

Fact Box

The Grove by Rockwell Land
117 E. Rodriguez Jr. Ave. (C5), Barangay Ugong, Pasig City
The Grove has in-house interior designers who already know the units inside out, saving you the trouble of worrying about the nitty-gritty of designing.
P4.9-5.3M for a 1BR unit; P6.6-7M for a 2BR unit; P8-9.9m for a 3BR unit
Rockwell Land Tel. (02) 793-0088 Fax (02) 403-0109

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