Monday, August 31, 2015

The Brit's Living Room Makeover

As promised, I will share the living room transformation of a friend whose space I designed a few months back. We finally visited their apartment last weekend and we are pleased to see that they are on their way to completion. Here are the BEFORE and AFTER photos.

This was how their living room looks like last year.

And this is how it is now.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Condo Unit Renovation Project

A classmate way back in Elementary, a school service mate, and a balikbayan from Singapore recently contacted me. They are moving to their new place next month and needed help in interior design.

It was a one bedroom condominium unit in the heart of the metro. This will probably be one of my most challenging projects to date as the area is a little less than 24 square meters and is to include areas for living, dining, sleeping and cooking. Basically, it will function as a regular house but in a smaller scale. Plus, they need the design urgently as they will be moving in two weeks.

The unit is empty except for the kitchen cabinets, and a blank slate is always good for designing. I'm glad they asked for the design before buying and doing anything. After seeing the on-site photos, I started with what was already there and was inspired by the color of the existing cabinets, bright orange. From here I formulated a design concept which can be summed up with this mood board.

Small Space, Big Personality. The idea is to create a bright, energetic space that is both functional and stylish. The hotel suite-like residence will have an eclectic mix of modern and vintage accessories for an interesting look and feel.

FLOOR PLAN. There is a corridor running from the main door to balcony door across the length of the floor area. Not good feng shui but it's the best arrangement for air circulation as well as traffic flow. The entrance is low but it opens to a higher ceiling in the living areas and lowers a bit back in the bedroom and out to the balcony.

Wooden flooring or laminates are to be installed over the whole floor area except for the bathroom, of course. This would elevate the coziness of the space and would give it more warmth. It would also increase the utilization of the floor area (as it is more comfortable to sit and even lie down) and improve acoustics. I always use rugs to anchor a space but not in this project because I don't want the floor to look busier. And I don't want to add more things. The homeowners then need to be disciplined in their purchases and always edit, to keep what they need, exhibit what they love, and dispose what needs to be.

The walls, by the way, are to remain neutral or painted with either a bright beige or a very light shade of gray.

KITCHEN. There's the design inspiration, the bold use of bright orange for the cabinet doors. I have to commend the homeowners for their creative color choice. It's the perfect welcome as it is also the foyer and leaves a good, confident impression to guests. A mini-fridge is smartly tucked inside the cabinet below and all the other kitchen essentials neatly stored in the overhead shelves when not in use.

TOILET AND BATH. To offset the beige and white tiling in the bathroom, turquoise or light blue colors are to be  introduced alongside basic bathroom fittings. Towels in baskets, fresh plants or flowers, framed art, candles or oil diffusers and books may be placed on the open shelves while bathroom supplies may be stored in the mirrored cabinet.

LIVING HALL AND DINING HALL. For small spaces, areas and furniture must perform multiple functions. So we opted for a two-seater sofa bed for the living hall. I added a nesting table on one end and hung a light fixture in the corner.  The space is anchored by the huge art on the wall. I also put three old carved wood plaque on one wall which in lieu may be the location for a wall-mounted TV.

Right across and not far off is the dining hall. I installed light blue curtains spanning the whole height of the wall to give the room a feeling of a higher ceiling. On the wall is an ornate, antique, wood-framed mirror. I hung a modern Modo Chandelier above the drop-leaf and foldable dining table and finished off with a couple of white-upholstered chairs.

When needed, the dining chairs may be pulled near the couch for additional seating and the table folded and hidden behind the dining hall's drapery or when the sofa bed needs to be extended for the night. 

BEDROOM. I placed a floor-to-room divider's height, built-in closet on one side of the room which is to have mirrored doors. Beside it, I left a narrow space for a possible small office, shoe or linen storage, or a vanity. I kept the whole color scheme muted and matched the bed linens with the trio of frameless, glass-encased gem artprints. A bed with a headboard and wall-mounted reading lamps are necessary to compensate for a nightstand.

I sincerely wish this family well. I hope they would follow some, (if not all) the design proposals that I shared here and enjoy their newly-decorated abode in the city. And I hope you've find some inspirations for your personal spaces as well.

Until next time!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Nirwana Resort Hotel

I know, I know. There are hundreds of beautiful beaches in the Philippines. But why Bintan?

Why not?

Bintan Island is the nearest we can get to a real beach. Sentosa and East Cost is just too crowded and I can’t imagine myself having a dip. Bintan on the other hand provides a short getaway for us and is just an hour away from Singapore. It is very convenient and the beach is serene and majestic at the same time, especially as there are just few people swimming and roaming when we visited.

We visited a day before the SG50 holidays and stayed for three days and two nights. The crowd was starting to get bigger on our departure day. It is our third time in Bintan, second time in Nirwana Resort Hotel, and the first with Lia around. We were visiting after two years and it was nostalgic to see familiar spots, happy for the new things they added, and a bit disappointed that some things remained the same and weren’t improved.

We stayed in the west wing in one of their Premium Deluxe rooms. It was newly-renovated and as such, the bathroom was not equipped with a tub. The room was pretty basic. It has a huge Balinese headboard wall with the flimsy and now shabby LED reading lamps. There was just too much wood of different shades and even the lumbar pillows, throw and curtains were neutral. There's a feeling of a lack of accessories as the desk was devoid of a table lamp and the mini-fridge was empty. The overall look was just 50 Shades of Brown. The bathroom was equipped with modern fixtures and fittings.

We love their shutters though and the panoramic view from the window. From there, we have a glimpse of the beach, the coffee shop, the elephant ride and the trampoline (both were new attractions), the pool, the playground and the lawn. Another new addition was the Batik Painting Session at the main lobby. 

The sunrise was spectacular. I woke up just before dawn and was there before the other shutterbugs so I was able to get these shots. I left the beach that morning with a smile on my face.

Buffet breakfasts are always exciting. As a second-time guest, I have an expectation from them and have the tendency to compare experiences from our previous visit. Well, the service didn't turn out that great of an experience. The food was fine and the variety was good. But they can improve on staff service quality, by improving on cleanliness, and updating the tired and outdated decor and dying plants. I don't know if Nirwana is under a new management. If they are, I think they must work harder to maintain the resort.

The beach, fortunately, was cleaner this time around. There was no tar to stain our skin and swimwear. And it was just beautiful. There were a few couples taking selfies here and there, families building sandcastles, "someone" (heart) "someone" etchings on the sand, and guests picking shells and broken corals. All in all, it was perfect.

The poolside hasn't changed. And the fact that it is at the center of it all was great! No wonder, many chose to lounge here rather than the beach.

You see, it's the minute details that make the difference. It's in these little, special things that gives a hotel character and identity, and a cut above the rest. And this, they fail to deliver this time. I hope they can revive and restore what is good, change what needs improvement and again embody what their beautiful name stands for.

SG50 Holidays is over. Now we're back to the grind and looking forward to the next beach holiday!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Living Room To Playroom Makeover

"If you can't beat the, join them!" Better yet, come up with a creative solution. Here's one story.

I posted this snapshot of our living hall a few weeks back as I bid farewell to this look. As parents with a very active toddler (that's you Lia!), we are relinquishing our rights to have a formal sitting area with mercury glass accessories and well-loved vintage finds. Instead we have decided to transform this space to a more colorful, relaxed, toddler-friendly playroom where Lia,  her elder sister Ashrie, (and us) could play together and enjoy as a family.

So we changed the sofa's slipcover to a brighter shade while Jane made some new pillowcases. The geometric cotton fabric is from Spotlight including the smaller green and orange pillowcases to pickup some of the colors from the geometric print. The colors of the wheel pillow which we had earlier for Ashrie's bedroom perfectly complements our color scheme. It is also from the same store.

The wooden coffee table was a hazard for Lia as she always bump to its sharp and hard edge. And for the coffee table's end, it is starting to get rugged as more dents and scratches are added to it's top everyday. To solve this, we came up with the idea of cushioning the coffee table and upholstering it like an ottoman. Now, it's a win-win situation! It's very safe for Lia and we also protected the tabletop surface. She loves its soft padding and I love putting her on top of it and tickling her tummy.

By the way, both the pillowcases and ottoman upholstery were lovingly and painstakingly hand-sewn by Jane. Well done, my love!

Remember our DIY sunburst mirrors and Ashrie's abstract artworks (check here and here)? Well, when we changed the slipcover and added the pillows, all of a sudden, the Patrizio painting seemed amiss. It's dark and too intense. We needed something fun and light. So we made an impromptu gallery wall using the mirrors in the dining room wall and some of Ashrie's art in the storage. The result is an interesting mix of colorful frames and gilded mirrors which is not only very eclectic but very personal as well.

Although I can never say that it's all done (because we always shake things up) I'm so happy on how this turned out. And I'm pretty sure the kids love it too!

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