FROM creating an illusion of a bigger room to incorporating built-in furniture designs, industry experts revealed some points to consider, as well as tips and tricks to make the most out of limited areas, most specially in studio-type condominiums and one-room units.

Interior designer Katherine Anne Correa, MArch, Interior Design Program Chairperson and architect Harvey Vasquez, MArch, UAP (United Architects of the Philippines), Architecture Program Chairperson, both from the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde from the School of Design and Arts, noted the importance to identify the purpose of a given space.

“We Filipinos are very ingenious when it comes to maximizing small spaces. It is part of our culture,” Ms. Correa stated. “Ask yourself: What do you intend to do in that small space during daytime and night time? Can we compartmentalize those specific functions within the available space or make it flexible that we can convert any time?”

She added that using certain shades produces an illusion of a more spacious room. “Receding colors are those that are high in value, lower in saturation and cooler in hue,” she expounded. “They are perceived to raise the ceiling height.”

She suggested white-painted ceilings and walls, matched with bright lights, to make for a bigger area. For those who do not want to go all-white, they can opt for cream or pastel. To complement the soft backdrop, she recommended home décor such as pillows, artworks, or even indoor plants for pops of color.

Choose furniture designs that are useful both for day and night. “Murphy beds can be tucked in or folded and be converted into a dining table, work table, or sofa during day time,” Ms. Correa advised. “Another option is to design a bunk bed wherein you can use the bottom part as a work space or a living area.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Vasquez added that the concept of open spaces, now deemed a trend, was the main design feature of a bahay kubo or nipa hut. “It was ahead of its time. In the morning, it served as the working area for the housewife, play area for the kids, dining area during family meals. At night, it became the sleeping area. With minimal fixed furniture and just one cabinet, it successfully hosted the basic role of a house.”

He stressed multi-functionality as the core element. “Flexibility of being able to adapt different scales of activities is a welcome feature to an efficient house,” he reiterated.

To instill a sense of privacy amid the open spaces, he further proposed portable partitions. “This was especially highlighted during this pandemic, as we are trapped inside, with no place to do personal work,” he explained. “Moving forward, being able to design a personal space, even though limited, is also important.”

Maintaining a tiny space means constant decluttering. Mr. Vasquez advised full-height cabinets as a great way to organize the limited space. “It can also be a room in itself; a full kitchen can be inside a cabinet if designed right,” he noted.

Lastly, “Flexibility has always been related to mobility as it gives us the potential to transform spaces simply by moving the furniture around,” Mr. Vasquez detailed. “Different configurations of spaces can be achieved by reconfiguring chairs, cabinets and tables.”