10 big ideas for small spaces

After almost a year since quarantine, sales in home stores have reportedly gone up. Since work-from-home arrangements were implemented to avoid the spread of the virus, a lot of people living in Metro Manila and nearby cities have decided to redo their living spaces to adapt to the new setup.

For those who have no choice but to stay in Metro Manila, living in condos and small spaces has not been that easy. The good news is we can renovate and upgrade our place without spending much.

Leona is standing beside a custom-made desk by Leoque furniture. Artwork by Valerie Chua and Nix Puno.

As interior stylist Leona Laviña-Panutat says, “ I’m a big believer that good design does not necessarily have to come with a high price tag. Everyone deserves to live in their dream space.” 

Although Leona did not have any formal training in interior decoration, friends and clients have asked her, most especially after the last quarantine, to design and redesign their homes.

‘The living room is one of our favorite places to hang out before and after every meal.’ Seated are Wyatt, 9; Leona, her husband Wesley; and Walt, 6. Art by Jeff Dizon, Manuel Baldemor and Francis Nacion.

After being  a fashion buyer and freelance fashion stylist for magazines, Leona was again brought back to her first love: home design and décor. Together with her sister-in-law Charlene Panutat-Carlos, Leona opened a lifestyle store,  L’Indochine, which carried both home and fashion pieces. “As an interior stylist, I like to work with whatever the clients have on hand and see how we can reflect their personality in their space,” Leona adds.

For today, we asked Leona for her top 10 tips when decorating small spaces.

1.     Don’t be in a hurry to fill up your space. When you have a small area to work with, every square inch is important. Think about how you want the space to be used and how you want the flow to be. That way you can plan accordingly.

2.     A bit of clutter goes a long way. Piles of paper and unwanted items get magnified in a small space. Be sure to keep your space tidy at all times. Edit frequently and keep only the items that you truly love.

3.     Maximize vertical space. Shelves can be your best friends. They make great focal points when styled properly and they keep items off the floor. If you can have built-ins made, even better.

‘We had these shelves built when we bought the house. They hold a lot of keepsakes and tchotchkes from our travels and keep items organized and off the floor.’ Marble bookends by The Masonry, plants from Mama Botanika.

4.     Mirrors make a space look bigger. When placed properly, they reflect light and make the space look larger and brighter.

5.     Measure, measure, measure! Before buying anything, be sure to check all the dimensions and have a record of the space you plan on putting it in. Furniture that is too big can make spaces feel cramped, while using lots of small furniture can make them look cluttered. Plus, picking the wrong furniture will not only cost you time, but money as well.

6.     Make an impact in a small space. Tiny spaces like powder rooms are the ideal space to go bold. Use gorgeous wallpaper, paint it a dark color or fill it with artwork. These are the perfect spots to have fun.

‘We were able to set up a seating area in our master bedroom by choosing the right furniture. We chose a loveseat as opposed to a couch and our coffee table is on the smaller side but works perfectly for the space.’ Pillows and lamp from Archipelago Home.

7.     Use multi-purpose furniture.  Look for pieces that do double duty; ottomans not only provide additional seating but also double as side tables when not in use. Another route to take is having custom pieces made. In our case we had drawers built into the sides of our bed to use as storage for our linens. 

8.     Use a cohesive color scheme and see how rooms interact with one another. Having a small space means you can pretty much see every angle of your home. Make sure that all the rooms tie in together.

Small rooms are the best spaces to go bold. Whether it’s with fun wallpaper or lots of art and plants, these are the perfect places to experiment and make a statement. Plants by Mama Botanika

9.     Use furniture with exposed legs. Exposed legs show more of the floor, making the space feel wider.

10.  You can never have enough art or plants. Art pieces when placed properly add so much color and personality to a space. Plants, on the other hand, breathe much-needed life into a room, instantly prettifying the space.