This is such exciting time to be nesting in the Philippines! For career-driven singletons who opt not to live with mom and dad ’til they get married (heck, I know of some who never bother to move out), furnishing your own place is one of the simple joys of life. Yet the task can be quite daunting, especially when you don’t have an Ikea, Bed, Bath & Beyond, or Crate & Barrel (it’ll be here soon!) around the corner.

With developers like Robinsons Land creating affordable condominiums that are just the thing for start-up families and career-driven alphas, furnishing your new home is more of an exciting new adventure, not a chore. Gone are the days of bulky, oversized Italian furniture and Narra-made everything (that all come in the same boring varnish), as young designers invites by Summit Media’s Real Living magazine prove that there are interesting innovative furniture pieces you can buy in Metro Manila without having to break the bank.

Presented by Robinsons Residences and HardieFlex by JamesHardie, this year’s Real Living Space that took place from October 19 – 21, 2014 brought together a stellar team of designers to completely decorate and style five one-bedroom condominium units at The Magnolia Residences in New Manila. Walking around each condominium unit, one gets a feel for the personalities each space was deigned for and it felt like being in the pages of the lifestyle magazine, with each room being a new space I could touch and feel.

Here’s a quick peek at the five one-bedroom units:

Fierce & Fashionable Abode




Sophistication reigns supreme in the living and dining area that interior designer John Vigilia designed. His client is a fashionable female who works as the editor-in-chief of a major glossy who practically lives and breathes art. Standing in one corner of the living area is a dress form adorned with necklaces and patterned fabric – a definite indicator that the unit owner is a fashion maven. This had a very Mitch Dulce – the stylist-turned-milliner – vibe to the space – quirky, interesting, and proudly Pinay.

John filled the unit with lots of details to keep its owner inspired. The main furniture pieces are complemented with equally stunning accessories, like the huge artwork hung on the walls. I especially loved the use of the rattan sofa, brought to life with the colorful throw pillows and accented with the neutral colored rug.

The dining area was placed by the window, with the chairs covered in bright fabric, drawing your eye towards the lighted nook. I also loved the artwork displayed on the easel as well as the pretty birdcage that brought the space together nicely.




Keeping with the creative design of the overall unit, interior designer Ayet San Jose wanted the bedroom to be quirky and fun – reflecting the mood of the woman that works in the fashion industry. “She is in love with all things colorful and quirky, and is also active on social media which inspires her to make her room as comfortable, inspiring, and fashionable as possible.” says Ayet of the client.

Pastel hues and girly accessories cover the bedroom, with splashes of color and interesting collectibles. Hanging from the ceiling is a white cutout lighting piece that is dainty and whimsical. I thought the space looked a little too young and busy for my taste, and a bit out of character from the living area outside. Nevertheless, there were a few interesting pieces in the room that I liked, the little bird cages for one, as well as some of the more interesting throw pillows.

The Hip & Happening Bachelor Pad




The only unit decorated with a male client in mind, interior designer Wilmer Lopez‘s signature Scandanavian look is prominently displayed in this unit, designed for a bachelor who is very outgoing and outwardly mobile. He loves to host dinner parties and hang out at gastro pubs, is into indie music, and collecting vintage curiosities. In a word: hipster.

I was digging the British vibe to the space – decorated in red, white, and blue with mid-century modern furnishings – and appreciated that Wilmer tastefully held back going overboard with the Union Jack and Queen Elizabeth-themed bric-à-brac. This was quite Eli Buendia-esque, and I could see the talented musician enjoying this space. I also loved the rug Wilmer picked that filled up the living area without overpowering it.




“The layout of the space itself is very casual. You can see it in the furniture, choices and manner of accessorizing,” the designer says. In the dining area, which greets you upon opening the door, a mix of chairs – metal stools and spindle back chairs – accompanies a glass-stopped dining table, creating an eclectic set-up. But the vintage dental lamp, which was sourced from a flea market, steals the show and becomes the highlight of the space.

The Timeless, Contemporary Space




Interior designer Hannah Acab-Faustino of IDeal Interior Design Services created a space for a couple who are in their early 30s – young executives who enjoy spending quality time together in the evenings after a long days work by cooking or eating, and traveling whenever the opportunity arises. The space is filled with a mix of decorative accessories that not only prettify the space but also show off the couple’s good taste.

Hannah came up with a “timeless but age appropriate” design in the living spaces. “I initially toyed with the idea of putting splashes of color in the interiors, and ended up with the idea of infusing the rich and colorful tones of a peacock. Interestingly, after that, I was able to chance upon an actual painting of one!” she says.

I loved the little details, like framed posters on the floor (although I don’t think that would work in my space with the dog running around); the use of animal-themed accessories like the giraffe fruit bowl, owl sculpture on the table, and little cat sculptures; the pineapple sculpture that’s a throwback to mid-century England where serving pineapples for dessert was a sign of wealth and prosperity; and the really nice lamp stand to the side.




Meanwhile, the bedroom of the unit is a soothing sanctuary, whilst also reflecting the couples’ love for travel. “The space is gender-neutral, and is given a punch through the use of sharp patterns and the use of the contrasting black and white colors,” the designer explains. Hannah took the color inspiration for the bedroom from the big oil paining that is the focal point of the space. Aside from the soothing combination of turquoise and gold, I like how each bedside stand also reflects the personality of the unit owners – you can tell which side they sleep on by the way each side is decorated.

Modern & Edgy Meets Boheme




Designers Ysa Villar and Mark San Diego of Edition Lifestyle created this space for a young female executive who appreciates art and modern design. “She prefers minimal design but her love of art is evident in the subtle accents and decorative touches,” says Mark. This one-bedroom unit was the most relatable for me, and I liked the whole California-vibe it had going on. But personally, I’d prefer the couch to be white with gold d a sheepskin rug instead of the grey chevron pattern, but I can see how the grey makes the space look a lot more inviting.

The living and dining areas are bright and airy, thanks to the light color palette that the duo used. “We chose a lot of light colors, so that the room will look bigger and brighter,” explains Mark. Geometric shapes seen in the console, drop lights, and planters on the wall make the unit look modern and edgy.

I found the vertical garden on one wall very interesting, and something I would like to add to my own space, as it adds an organic feel to the unit. “The client has started a green lifestyle and is able to grow a mini garden despite living in a condominium. The wall planters give a modern twist for indoor vertical gardens for condo living,” the designer says. Another beautiful piece in the room that also brought the outside in was the terrarium on the coffee table. Edition Lifestyle actually custom-makes these pieces, and they have an in-house gardener as well, which makes succulent hunting so much easier.




The bedroom was designed by L’Indochine owners, Leona  Laviña-Panutat and Charlene Panutat-Carlos, bringing the lifestyle store’s signature look into this bedroom. With a client who is bohemian and artsy, L’Indochine’s home accessories fit the personality of the unit owner. There is a daybed dressed up with colorful throw pillows make for a casual sleeping space at night and a quirky sitting area during the day.

The owner of the unit works from home, which is something I can relate to, and I loved how Leona and Charlene created a work area in one corner of the room, using a slender chair that doesn’t take up too much space, and a glass-topped table that doesn’t look heavy and imposing. The decorative gold-gilded frames arranged on the wall reflect images of the owner’s travels, adding a does of personality to the room as well as inspiration to ignite that wanderlust.

Global Meets Rustic-Industrial




I was surprised to realize that this was my favorite room of the ones i visited. Interior designer, Kristine Neri-Magturo, took inspiration from New York for the condo unit of the alpha female who loves to travel. “She is self-made and she knows what she wants in life. she is very career-driven and stylish as well,” says Kristine of the unit owner. I’d imagine her to be someone like Teresa Hererra or one of her other super successful sisters. With this in mind, Kristine made the unit hip and urban, throwing in a mix of different materials like wood, metal, and leather around the unit, playing around with a lot of the texture.

Although all that leather and antlers in one small space was a bit too much for me, I appreciated how Kristine made use of natural material, incorporating it with big, green palm leaves and other organic accents.




I was drawn to the custom-made shelves made of metal and wood that could be used as a buffet table as well as a space to store books and various accessories. The shelf itself is pretty heavy, but it comes with casters, so you can easily be move it around when redecorating. The wooden stool used as a side table was also quite pretty, and also served as a nice focal point in the living room.




Flair and functionality are also balanced all throughout the space. A big storage chest by the window keeps clutter at bay whilst also functioning as table decor. Kristine refrained from using cookie-cutter pieces for the unit. “I made sure that the interior had a good mix of items that are not generic and mass-produced. Hence, there are more bespoke pieces and items that may have been picked from traveling around the world,” she says.

Looking around the bedroom, you can’t help but admire the water buffalo accent pieces on the wall. This is balanced out by the big pewter candlestick on a side table at the other end of the room, accented with a touch of green.

Decorating your home is a momentous task, with lots of themes, colors, and furniture pieces to choose from. This is also quite an exciting endeavor as you get to personalize a place to call your home that reflects your personality, hobbies, and interests. If you’re like me and don’t know where to get started on decorating your space, no matter how big or small, get yourself a copy of Real Living at your favorite bookstore or at the supermarket aisle.