Got any plans this long weekend? I’d highly recommend a visit to Real Living Space 2015, happening over at the official showroom of the Avida Towers Centera, Reliance corner Mayflower Streets, Mandaluyong City.

I’d actually been busy on this event this past week, despite a bad cough, because I was invited to style the lobby area of the showroom. Naturally, I was thrilled to be able to work with the country’s leading home and interiors magazine, and absolutely terrified that I was already getting my hands dirty even when I hadn’t even finished my schooling yet. But this is how I’ve always made many of the major decisions in my life—with throw-caution-to-the-wind gusto (or so I’d like to believe!). I was never one to turn away from a challenge that I knew I would enjoy doing and seeing the fruits of my labor.

My setup was pretty small, in comparison to the expertly and exquisitely designed model units by such veteran interior designers as Pai Edles & Misty Floro of Morfosis, Kat Villanueva, Kristine Neri-Magturo, Pam Tan, Vera Villarosa, John Vigilia, Allen Oblena, and Paul Baes & Joel Salazar of Lucina Home. Nonetheless, I was grateful to have been given the opportunity to test my mettle.

Rachelle Medina, Real Living‘s editor in chief, told me initially to design the workshop area for the event using the lobby of the Avida Centera sales pavillion. They already had an existing five-seater couch, four large ottomans, two glass-and-metal coffee tables, and a huge area rug. After doing an ocular at the venue and jotting down measurements, I went and made my mood board.

I’ve lately been inspired by midcentury-modern, and organic/natural design, and seeing how the lobby had a floor-to-ceiling view of a landscaped garden outside, I knew I wanted to incorporate the look of the outdoors into my design. Here is the mood board that I came up with:

mood board RL Space real living space 2015
I loved the modern sophistication of midcentury furniture, and the casual, effortless simplicity of Kinfolk vignettes, so I wanted to combine both looks into my setup.
I even created a secret Pinterest board so I could gather inspiration for the project. 

One challenging thing about my space is that there were two built-in signage cabinets (painted a drab shade of gray) behind the couch that was blocking the view outside. (I took photos but can’t seem to retrieve them from iCloud. HOW WEIRD.) Since I couldn’t remove them altogether, I either had to cover them up, or incorporate them into my design.

I chose the latter, and thought of turning them into a feature wall that would serve as a backdrop to a work desk instead of the couch.

As we were borrowing furniture and accessories from RL Space’s event sponsors (for my setup, I borrowed from Mav Furniture Gallery, Match Contract Furniture, Wilcon Home Depot, Mandaue Foam, Habitat UK, and Mobler), I had to create a list of items I wanted to use for my design. But the day before my scheduled ingress, I was told by the project manager—the inimitable Coni Tejada—that most of the items I listed were either already not available or currently out of stock. OH WOE IS ME. (Basically it was my fault; I sourced items at branches that were already on clearance. I should have sourced from branches that already carried new collections! Lesson learned by this neophyte interiors stylist.)

 Coni then told me that she would just look for replacements for the items that I sourced.
So challenge #2 was to work with whatever materials and furniture that would be provided—on the day of ingress itself! I swear, I felt a bit like a contestant in one of those home design shows on HGTV (which was the official media partner of RL Space, by the way!).
Thankfully, Coni and Real Living’s editorial assistant Paula De Guzman have a great eye, and while the furniture they eventually picked for me looked different from some of the items I had sourced, I was still able to work them into my Kinfolk-influenced design. Instead of midcentury-modern, the look of my space clearly became Scandinavian-inspired.

Anyway enough with my babbling! Here are the pictures of my setup at RL Space: 

P1030993 P1030958
Here’s a list of all the furniture and accessories that I used in my workspace-cum-living area:

• Dining table (used as work desk) and wood stool from Mav Furniture Gallery
• Armchair, three-drawer bureau, white hurricane lamp, and white throw (over armchair) from Mobler
• White, industrial chair from Match Contract Furniture
• Pair of hand-carved nesting tables, throw pillow with pompoms, green glass tabletop lamp (on bureau), brass lantern (on side table), orange bamboo tray (on desk), cylinder container with antlers (on bureau), braided pouf (on floor) from L’Indochine
• Photo frames, mini topiary (on side table), and cactus in bowl (on desk), photo-printed throw pillows (on couch), desk lamp from Wilcon Home Depot
• gold ampersand from Mandaue Foam

The couch was also the existing lobby couch at the showroom. All other accessories used in the setup came from my own “props” supply—most of these I keep for styling projects, while others are stuff I currently use at home. Here are some detail shots.


I bought the burlap (jute sack in vendor speak) and dried seagrass bunches from Tabora Street in Divisoria, while my faux eucalyptus stems are from Dapitan Arcade.


The wooden framed white board is from Anding’s Toys and Flowers shop in Tabora Street, Divisoria (only P130), and the large easel was an old purchase of my husband from National Book Store.

I used trays and a wooden cutting board to create functional but visually aesthetic groupings on a large surface as this work desk, so that they don’t float aimlessly on the table.

The wooden toy phone is actually my daughter’s, and I bought that for her from the American Surplus Depot on the corner of Scout Borromeo and EDSA. I heard some event goers ask where they could purchase the phone, including interior designer Kristine Neri Magturo, who wanted to buy it for her son!

Perhaps the highlight of the space—and something that I was pleased to hear was such a hit among the event goers at yesterday’s launch—was my feature wall.

I couldn’t paint over the cabinets, and didn’t have the budget to use wallpaper. So I “DIYed” it by covering up the cabinet doors with pages from an old Chemistry textbook. (I’d bought the book from a yard sale some months ago, thinking I’d be able to use it in some design project—and I was right!) I just used masking tape for this but if I were to do this in an actual room, I would use a finishing adhesive like Mod Podge (available at arts supply stores like Deovir in SM North Edsa).

Then thanks to Apartment Therapy‘s lead, I was able to download free botanical prints from Poppytalk and A Daily Something (here, here, and here), then printed out those that coincided with my color palette. I also taped up the prints over the book page-covered walls, then “framed” them with a taupe, polka-dotted washi tape. This is actually a great wall treatment for small spaces, accent walls, or a rented space, since it doesn’t involve any drilling or nailing.

And there you have it! Now this is just a minor setup in Real Living Space 2015; wait until you see the breathtaking model units inside. No doubt you’ll be able to pick LOTS of design and decorating tips just by viewing the model units. And mind you, these aren’t just your usual, run-of-the-mill model units. When I say exquisitely designed, I really do mean impeccably designed and jaw-droppingly beautiful model units. 

I highly encourage that you check it out this Saturday and Sunday, as there will also be scheduled workshops all throughout the weekend, plus a trade fair featuring some of Manila’s best home brands, artisans, and crafters—you’ll definitely find something you’d want to display in your own home.

Check out the informative video below about the event, or go to the website for more details!