How does one transform an empty shell of a house into one’s own chic and presentable dream home? I set out on such a project a couple years back for a young couple with (then) three kids. They had just bought their very first townhouse. Prior to buying the unit, they’d been living in a small apartment that was becoming too cramped and too old for their growing boys. I worked mainly with the wife, who also ran her successful business from home.

The Interior Design Brief

Space: A brand-new, empty, four-storey townhouse with no interior finishes (no flooring, no paint, no ceilings)

The residents: A young couple with three growing boys

Goal: To transform the empty house into a chic and contemporary home
Side note: The wife didn’t want the space to feel too masculine just because she was outnumbered, and wanted to inject a little feminine touch without making her boys go “ewww” (What is it with boys and their aversion to pink? …haha.).

Empty, unfinished rooms

Everything was concrete, the walls were only finished with primer, and there were no ceilings.

2nd floor

The only interior finish already installed were the wooden treads and handrails of the stairs, which were polished and stained in a natural mahogany stain.

The Design Pegs

As with any project, we started off first with some design pegs. (All following photos were taken from Google and Pinterest.) My client wanted something clean, bright, and contemporary—with emphasis on the first two, as she was just tired of living in a messy, cramped space.

We needed to bunch the kitchen, dining, and living areas on one floor, so we went with an open-plan layout.

contemporary living room

Living room peg: All light and bright, with nary a Victorian curlicue in sight

contemporary living room

Living room peg: The open-plan space required furniture that doubled as “dividers”, like a sectional or L-shaped sofa.

contemporary kitchen

Kitchen peg: My client wanted an all-white kitchen but was worried she would get bored in time with the whiteness, so I suggested mixing it up with warm woods and metals.

Pinterest inspiration for kitchen
Photo from Pinterest
contemporary bedroom
Bedroom peg: She specified a bedroom that was sophisticated enough for her and her husband, but cozy enough to accommodate her kids, who all still wanted cuddle time together.
navy blue kid's bedroom
Kids’ room: The boys’ room was particularly challenging, because there was only one big room that needed to fit their wardrobes and toys.

The Mood board

I had moodboards for every room and floor, but for purposes of brevity, I’ll just post my overall mood and materials board for the entire home.

1JAstilla Moodboard-3
1JAstilla Moodboard-4


Rendered Designs

Back then, I wasn’t equipped with tech tools and skills (aka I drew and drafted everything manually!) so I enlisted the help of fellow interior designer Julienne Hidalgo to come up with rendered drawings of my designs. She makes amazing renderings which almost always fools clients into thinking that her drawings are actual photographs!

contemporary dining room
contemporary dining room
Dining area
contemporary kitchen
Gray and white kitchen with gold and wooden contrasts
Living area
Kid's room
One of the first iterations of the boys’ room had three upholstered beds, each with their own nightstands, bedside lamps, and cubby shelves. My client wanted to shut out the balcony because her boys were all very young and prone to venturing out. Our initial layout first had the beds’ headboards closing off the balcony doors.
master bedroom
Master bedroom
master bedroom
Master bedroom
master suite family den
One of the functions of the master suite was to have an area where the family could watch TV together, and the husband to have his own workdesk. They eventually decided against the work desk so that the space could be devoted solely to family time.
master bedroom suite
Master bedroom suite

The Final Product

I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. You may have already seen these on my Instagram account (if you haven’t, just click that link and give me a follow!). All photos below were shot by Paulo Valenzuela for Working Mom magazine.

gray and pink living room
The media cabinet was my design, and built into the wall. We painted it a lovely gray color from Nippon Paints.

gray and pink living room
The sofa and center table are from Philux, the chandelier from Cebu Home and Builders’ Depot. The curtains and shades were all custom-made by Shell Canvas, and all accessories are from Our Home.

gray and pink living room
We shot this when my clients had just moved in, and they hadn’t yet put up their black-and-white family photos framed in white.

wood and gray contemporary dining room
The dining table was custom-made by Furniture Highway. We went all the way to Silang, Cavite to pick out the live-edge wood slab, and collaborated together to create the table design (and made sure it was sturdy enough for her rowdy kids!). The chairs are all by Donna Rivera Furniture, while the lamps—which now house real plants—are from Lumina Concepts.

contemporary kitchen
My client had already initiated a design with Luxacraft, a modular cabinet manufacturer. I helped refine the design and layout a bit, and picked out all the finishes with my client. The bar stools are from Mod Living, while the globe lights are from Distinctive Lights.

blue and yellow kids' bedroom
After several iterations of the boys’ room, we eventually settled on one queen-sized bed with a pullout, as my client’s kids were all still very young and wanted to sleep together in one bed. This allowed them more room for play. The cubby shelves and table are from Furniture Source, while the bed was custom-made by Donna Rivera Furniture. The shades were also customized by Shell Canvas.

sofa ottoman master bedroom
Sofa is from Furniture Source. Tufted ottoman from Donna Rivera Furniture. Chandelier from Distinctive Lights. Geometric art prints from Our Home. Pillows and throw from H&M Home.

There you have it! I hope to be able to shoot more photos of clients’ homes (something I have been completely remiss in doing!), and share them with you here on the blog.

Do you have areas of your home that you want to style, furnish, or renovate? Get in touch and let’s set an initial consult!