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Turning Small Spaces to Huge Hubs


Do you often get frustrated in designing your home because you find yourself limited in terms of space? Don’t fret — interior design experts say that there are more ways than one to create an illusion of more room.

Read on to find out how to get the most of every inch at your house:

In Living Areas. A favorite room-enlarging trick among interior designers is to hang the curtains up high and let them flow all the way to the floor. The room will seem taller and more spacious! Mirrors are also a tried-and-true method for making rooms feel larger. And finally, free up existing floor space by using multi-use furniture, like bench seating that doubles as storage.

In the Kitchen. There are quite a few visual tricks that can be applied in the kitchen to create an illusion of more space. Switch some cabinets to open shelving, and install glass cabinet doors. Overall, the color white will make any room seem more spacious and airy. Max out your kitchen’s storage abilities—clear counters and tables to instantly make a room feel more spacious. And lastly, increase the amount of natural light coming in.

In the Bedroom. To create the illusion of more space in the bedroom, make sure your furniture is all of a similar color palette. This secret trick is so effective because mismatching furniture visually breaks up the room and gives an overall disjointed impression. Place a few brightly colored accent items decidedly apart, so the eye must travel to each one. This will trick your brain into seeing more space! Design experts also often advise their clients to tuck and store away as much as possible. Use vertical storage like shelves, particularly in your closet. The visual tricks from elsewhere in the house can work here as well—clear, glass furniture; light colors; and mirrors! Metallic accent furniture will have a similar effect to a mirror.

In the Bathroom. Many professional redecorators say the trick to creating more space in a small room like a bathroom is to use glass or lucite as much as possible to create the optical illusion of more space. Switching out storage baskets and shelves for clear glass ones is an easy and effective change. Opt for a non-bulky sink or vanity, it will appear to take up less space.


How to Personalize Rented Space


Living in a rented apartment, condominium or house? If you think you can’t personalize your space because you don’t really own it, think again. There are actually a lot of ways to go around the rules without breaking the bank.

Here are some things you can do  to make your rented abode feel like something a little more permanent, without spending so much:

THE FLOOR. So the carpet hasn’t been replaced since the 80s and you don’t happen to like the color green, no worries! Set up your main living spaces with some large rugs, neutral is probably best as you don’t want to clash with the carpet in the places you can’t cover. Do this and watch the room change into something a little more to your liking. You could even go one step further and buy some carpet off-cuts/end of lines that can be held down by furniture – done right it can look neat and tidy and you can take them with you when you go.


THE WALLS. Just like floors, the wall color is something you are stuck with in a rental, but it’s nothing that some nice artwork won’t fix. Artwork doesn’t have to be expensive either – from special family photos to a cool postcard or just a picture you like – grab a frame and put it up. Walls are no longer restricted to just one picture either, with cluster galleries a popular way to display art. Another idea is using wall decals, which can be relatively cheap and are easy to remove. Just make sure you have had a chat to your landlord about using hooks/pins.


THE FURNISHING. Curtains are also a really easy thing to change, and you aren’t wasting money because you can take them with you! Just store the blinds/curtains that came with your rental in a dry place out of the sun and they can just be put back up when you leave. As a bonus, thermal backed curtains will help keep the warmth in over winter, reducing your power bill.

POT PLANTS. Both inside and out, pot plants are an easy way to style your rental home without feeling like you are putting money into a house that isn’t your own.

THE LITTLE THINGS. Sometimes it is the little things that count and that is certainly true for personalising your rental. Don’t like the lampshades? Change them – easy to do and they can go with you when you leave. For instance, with recessed lighting use a low wattage bulb to take them ‘out of the spotlight’ and instead use stylish floor lamps that will provide functionality while adding to your décor! Another cool idea is to swap out all your kitchen cupboard knobs/handles as they are simple to replace when it is time to go – just make sure you buy ones that fit the existing holes.



Quick Home Fixes Revealed


With the recent typhoon Glenda, many Filipinos were forced to stay at home, not risking their lives and limbs from uprooted trees, flying roofs and other harmful debris.  With nothing much to do — since electricity was also out for some days — it was a perfect opportunity to do a checkup on our respective homes, identifying problem areas that we often neglect due to busy schedules.

Now that the weather is better — despite ongoing rains due to another typhoon — it’s time to get cracking on fixing those problem areas. Before you rummage your phonebook for a plumber or a carpenter, check first if you can do the deed yourself.

Here are some common household problems that you may be encountering, and how to fix them:

How to unclog a toilet. What you need: a toilet plunger or a toilet auger. First, you need to know the difference between a sink and a toilet plunger. A toilet plunger has an added extension to make it easier to pull a clog out. Minor clogs can be cleared up with some water and several plunges. Major clogs may need a toilet auger, which is a wire-like tool that goes deep into the bowl of the loo. To remedy any major issues, run the end of the auger until it reaches the blockage and start cranking. A good enough grip with the auger should pull out the clog.

Unclogging the sink. What you need: hot water, a sink plunger, drain cleaner and drain snake. Like unclogging a toilet, this can be done with a few expert plunges or even by using your hands. The first step would be to clear out any sink traps over the drain itself, then pour hot water into the drain to melt any potential grease. For stubborn blockages, use a drain cleaner. If the obstruction persists, use the drain snake to break up the closure.

Squeaky door. What you need: lubricating oil spray, long pliers and a hammer. Spray lubricating oil on the hinges. If that doesn’t work, oil the hinge pin or the pin that sits between the flat plates on the hinge. Remove the hinge pin by rotating it clockwise and counter clockwise using long pliers. Once it’s out, give it a rub down with a cloth to remove the dust. If the pin is bent, you can correct it by hammering it down.

Image from arthub.org

Is Your Home Flood-Ready?

Residents ride in a rescue boat after being evacuated due to heavy flooding in Marikina, Metro Manila

With another strong typhoon already inside the Philippines, it’s high time to revisit tips on how to keep your homes from being flood-free.

Of course, common sense has it to avoid living on flood-prone areas. However, because storms are becoming stronger and more unpredictable, even locations that used to be safe from the deluge are also at risk.

While there’s no such thing as a 100% flood-proof home, you can still fortify your homes and avoid damage. Jamie Gibbs, the resident blogger for flood insurance comparison site Confused.com shares some tips to prepare a decent flood defense that won’t cost a cent.

Non-return valves are  one way drainpipe valves that use a hinged door to allow water to go out, but block any water coming in.

Re-wire your electrical sockets so that they’re at least 1.5m above the floor, and raise your electrical appliances on plinths (or mount them to the wall) to provide extra ground clearance. This may prove more costly than you expect, so see a qualified electrician before you carry out this kind of work.

Upgrade your air bricks to ensure that flood water can’t get into your house through your external vents. Automatic air bricks work in the same manner as non-return valves, allowing air into the house but blocking out any flood water coming in.

Lock up your important documents such as your home insurance policy, your passports and identification, your bank details and your treasured photographs. If you want proper protection then you should invest in a waterproof fire chest, which you can pick up for as little as £50 depending on what size you want.

What to do when the flood hits

  • Listen out for flood warnings on the radio, TV or Internet. Your local radio station will likely give up to date information about the progression of any flooding in your area.
  • If you’re told to evacuate your home by the authorities, don’t argue with them. As hard as it may be to leave your home at the mercy of the water, you’ll only be putting yourself and your family at risk if you ignore their advice. When the time comes, get out!
  • Move as many of your valuables as you can upstairs. The higher up you are, the better off you’ll be. The same applies to your valuables e.g. your TV, your kitchen gadgets, your expensive or valuable trinkets. It’s unlikely that a flood will engulf both the ground and the first floor, so heading for the high ground should keep your possessions safe.
  • Switch off all of your gas, electricity and water supplies by the mains. Given enough force, flood water can cause damage to pipes, causing water and gas leaks in the home. All it takes is a spark from a water-damaged socket to cause further devastation to a flooded house that also catches fire (the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in New York shows what devastation can be caused by a combination of flood and fire) . Ensuring that all of your utilities are completely shut off before the flood hits will minimize this risk.
  • Install a flood screen on your external doors to stop flood water getting in through these vulnerable areas. These screens are lightweight barriers that can be fixed to virtually any door opening, providing a tight seal between your entrances and the flood water.
  • Use sandbags to create a useful first line of defence. Sandbags are a popular and traditional flood barrier, so it helps to get these ahead of time. Your local DIY shop or building merchants should supply them for you, but check with your local council as you might be able to get them for free.

With enough preparation, you can minimize the damage that a flood will cause, and you can ensure that your precious possessions stay safe and secure despite the rising water.

(Photo from GMA News Online)

Solved: Coffee Table Alternatives


Now that the weather has gotten cold and rainy, sharing a cup of coffee with family and friends is perfect. Problem is, where to put them?

If you can’t find a coffee table that matches your furniture, or if you’re looking for something more versatile, don’t fret — there are a lot of smart and stylish alternatives for a coffee table. Perhaps you already have one right under your nose, so get inspired with these ideas:

Baskets. Who would have thought?! Covered baskets are good for more than just storage, and you can swap them out when you feel like an easy change.

Treasure Chests. Treasure chests as coffee tables is such a fun and nostalgic idea. Plus, they’re incredibly practical for extra storage and even better in an eye-catching color.

Stools. Switch up your stool routine and bring them front and center. The best part is they’re versatile and easy to move around depending on your entertaining needs.

Poufs. Small and stylish, poufs are a smart coffee table alternative when you live in a small space and need to get creative.

Ottomans. Be it a circular, square, or long bench style, ottomans are a fabulous styling secret. In this case, you can use it as a coffee table – styled with a tray – and later move it to the foot of the bed.

Side Tables. Side tables as coffee tables – why not?! They’re particularly handy for those lazy nights when you just want to have a drink or meal in front of the TV.


In Home Decor, Small Touches Spell Big Difference


When it comes to home designing, the little details can sometimes create a bigger impact.

Acclaimed designer Eric Cohler — listed as top international designer by no less than Elle Decor and House Beautiful — says these small touches are an inexpensive yet important design remodel.

If you want to update your home’s look by starting with small steps, Cohler offers the following tips:

Think Metal. Metals are a hot trend—from artisanal coppers to sassy bronzes and from cool nickel to sharp stainless steel. While metallic finishes may already be peppered throughout your home on appliances, plumbing fixtures and even textiles, don’t forget that you can subtly follow the metal trend by including the look on cabinetry door pulls, furniture hardware and even hinges. It adds just the right amount of polish and elegance to a room without being too opulent.

Warmth. Copper, along with its chromatic cousins—brass, bronze and gold—brings a sense of warmth to the home. Pair it with natural wood, leather or glass to create a calm, elegant impression in any environment. Avoid mixing copper too much with primary colors. For example, if you’re looking for a warm and rustic surface with dark undertones, Cohler recommends considering knobs, handles and hinges with a Brushed Copper finish. A copper finish has the versatility to blend with both modern and traditional décor.

Layered Look. Combining a range of finishes can give you a layered effect, which is visually interesting. Avoid fittings that are identical or match everything in the room, says Cohler.

Cabinets. When it comes to decorative hardware for cabinets, a coordinated look is still the most popular among homeowners. For the more adventurous, try a modified mixing of hardware. For instance, you can have all your wall cupboards fitted with brass and all the base cabinets and drawers with copper hardware.

Don’t get bored. Fashion conscious homeowners should consider keeping two sets of cabinet hardware on hand and change them every other year to keep the look fresh. Swapping them out is simple, and just requires a screwdriver.

Make it Easy. For many people, choosing cabinet hardware can be confusing and arbitrary. However, narrowing your search to a curated collection can make the process easier. For example, AmerockNOW curated by Cohler, captures regional style trends across the country, with refreshed styles and new finishes that blend with both traditionally styled interiors and more contemporary decors.

Living 101: Apartment Items to Throw Out


In designing your homes, sometimes it just needs a little more common sense. For example, when your space is miniscule, the least you could do is clutter them with unnecessary items. Sure, they may look beautiful, but in time, they’ll just turn into dust collectors and wasted space.

Which items scream less-is-more? Check this out:

Kitchen gadgets. Many people who live in apartments are often tempted to get a juicer or a food processor. However, the truth is, you’ll probably only use these appliances once and never again. You’ll be able to do more with a good knife, a blender or one or two sturdy pots for your kitchen.

Throw pillows. These gather dust and will need regular cleaning. Be smart about decorating – use a bed sheet or a stylish but affordable wrap as a furniture cover from time to time. You can also make use of cheap pillows that can be recycled as additional bed pillows.

Pricey bathroom curtains. A bathroom curtain is a bathroom curtain! If you’re thinking of getting one of these, remember that they have to be washed regularly. The cheap home store curtains for under P100 are more than enough, and they come in many stylish designs.

Linen napkins & hand towels. These are nice to look at, but in the end, will only be cleaning up spills and messes. Opt for paper towels or table napkins when you have company over. Linen napkins will require laundry and ironing to stay luxurious-looking. For hand towels, no one will bother reading the brand. Generic department store towels do the trick at a cheaper price, and the right color will be more than enough to give your bathroom that extra “pop”.

A full dining set. Save these for when you finally have a home of your own. An apartment can only fit in so many people, so you don’t need six spoons, six forks and knives, plates and the like. In the event you have company over, you’ll be better off buying disposable plates, spoons and forks.

What home furnishings and accessories do you think should be included in the list?

Home of the Future: Food in a Bubble?


How would you like it if your food is readily available in floating glass balls around your home instead of just a fridge in the kitchen? It’s like the live version of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, without the mess!

A designer from Jiangsu University in China came up with this nifty concept for the Electrolux Design Lab 2014 competition, a design contest involving concepts for the homes of the future.

Among the 35 semifinalists, the U-Bubble is a series refrigerating bubbles that hover in the air around your home, using the power of magnetism to keep in place. The bubbles have an interactive screen so you can see the use-by date of the food inside.

Other designs include a wearable computer game in which you eliminate pollutants in the air and personal flying robotic bar tenders.

The competition’s winner, to be announced in November, will receive a six-month’s paid internship at Electrolux’s global design center in Sweden. The competition is in its 12th year, with this year’s theme revolving around the issues facing society in the future, with the focus areas being air purification, culinary enjoyment and fabric care.

Sun-building: The Future of High-Rise?


Fancy a building that follows the direction of the sun?

Inspired by the power of the sun, Italian architect Paolo Venturella has designed a concept building called Flex Tower hich would help conserve energy.

The upper floors would move with the rotation of the sun at a 30-degree angle. He plans to use photovoltaic or solar panels, which can generate electricity from sunlight, for the proposed structure. The energy generated will be dispersed accordingly. The exterior is a steel frame that Venturella says can create an interior space completely free from structural elements.

We still don’t fully comprehend this; after all, performative architecture—or the use of digital technologies to challenge the way the built environment is designed, as Wiki puts it—is a relatively new concept. But we’d like to know what you think of the Flex Tower.

Do you this kind of idea will fly?

A Spa-ctacular Ambience, Right at Your Own Homes


Undoubtedly, Pinoys love the tranquility and relaxation that spas offer. As a result, more and more homeowners are looking for ways to bring the spa bath experience home.

Do you wish to have your own bathrooms to have that spa ambience? Spa baths typically feature a calming color palette; mood lighting; frameless glass doors and minimal hardware; and the integration of smart technology that allows for remote and customizable control of water pressure, temperature and more.

Mark Danuser, president of Tatum Brown Custom Homes, shares some of the most coveted products and trends in spa bath design.

Get smart with technology. Showers, fixtures and tubs are much more technologically advanced today than they were even just a few years ago. Now homeowners have the option of incorporating high-tech features such as heated tubs and shower systems that provide a more knocked-out spa-like shower.

Go sleek with fixtures and plumbing. Green building code requirements have prompted the popularity of low-flow plumbing fixtures. Aesthetically, sleeker fixtures are in high demand, and cooler materials such as brushed steel or stainless steel are the most requested, Danuser says. With the popularity of clean lines and transitional/contemporary home design styles, many brands and larger retail stores are rolling out more modern bath fixtures, he adds.

Incorporate mood lighting. Energy-efficient LED lighting packages are popular, as are shower systems that feature user-controlled chromatherapy, a lighting technology that uses color and brightness to set a certain mood. From starting off the day with a shower filled with energetic lighting to wrapping up a long day with a soothing soak in the tub, lighting can really enhance the spa bath experience.

Take it up a notch with tile. Sleek, spa-like tiles in neutral colors, arranged in modern or contemporary patterns, provide an interesting focal point for the shower or bath. Tatum Brown’s clients largely prefer to use more durable materials in the bath and shower, and Danuser says he has seen a rise in popularity for porcelain because it’s not as porous as natural stone.

“Today, these more durable materials are available in larger dimension pieces, which allow for sleeker applications in the shower and on the floor,” he explains.

Calculated countertops. For their counters and vanities, homeowners want surfaces made from “genius” materials, which are dense, man-made products, quartz and glass blends that are more durable and have a longer life cycle than other natural stone. For instance, the look and feel of Calcutta marble is now available in a denser option that is easier to clean and more. resistant to build-up than the original stone.

Hardware goes minimalist. “The trend is minimalist,” Danuser says. “Less is more. Smaller knobs, thumb tabs and blending in so the hardware doesn’t compete with the aesthetics are popular. Spa bath hardware is about functionality. And often we find that homeowners want to eliminate as much hardware as possible.”

Design considerations
Spa bath design has grown in popularity, and there are more products and technology options than ever before. When designing a spa bath, Danuser says there are several things to consider, and these are some of the most common issues:

Are the shower heads the correct height?
What natural stones should be used that aren’t so porous that they require heavy maintenance?
Where should the windows be placed to allow for the greatest amount of light?