Lee Borci Chua


If you’re the type of person who spends a pretty good amount of time every single day planning (read: plotting) her OOTD, chances are you usually zero in on a single piece of clothing or accessory that would be the icing on your full outfit, in other words, a fashion accessory that would make great eye candy.

Imagine that socialite in an all-black ensemble, elegantly clutching that It Purse in deep velvet red…or what about that celebrity in a baby pink dress that she matched with ruby-toned stilettos? Your eyes will definitely be drawn to the purse and shoes, because, well, their colors pop.

So what’s the point in all these? If you can spend a considerable amount of time visualizing your OOTDs, then it actually makes perfect sense to seriously strategize how you want to create dramatic looks in your own home, that is, by carefully choosing an item in your home’s specific area, painting it dramatically, and turning it into a stand-out accent piece.

Try these painting DIYs for those eye-catching interiors.

Statement Doors

Seeing beige, brown, and white doors can be a daily occurrence, so why not level up your entry’s welcoming powers and color it bright! Orange, red, green, yellow, or a lively kind of blue will certainly increase the attractiveness of your  entrance or exit. In the past, I recoated my ordinary-looking white back door using excess red paint, and what a difference that made. From a shy, self-effacing door, it made a loud statement, “Come through me, there’s so much more to see!”

Happy Chair

In a room filled with muted tones of neutral-colored walls and furniture, a cheerfully colored seat can be a welcome sight for weary souls. Check out which area of your home needs a quick facelift, without necessitating repainting of walls. Repainting a plain-looking chair with a vivid color can work wonders.

Cupboard Drama

Skip the whites and light-colored hues, and be bolder with your kitchen cupboards. Play up your kitchen cabinets by experimenting with adventurous colors. The kitchen after all is no place to be meek and timid with the visual vibe. A lot of cooking happens here, so let your dramatic cupboards complement the flurry of activity.

Vibrant TV Wall

Remember the time we used to place our TVs on humdrum racks or tables? Well, gone are those days. Boost the experience of TV viewing by providing your telly with eyecatching and buzz-inspiring backdrops.

Kid-magnet Study Table

Ever wondered how else you can make studying more exciting for your child? Just like that automobile bed you bought your son, where he gets his oh-so-lovely naps, why not add some pizzazz to his place of study by splashing his table with his fave color? Your daughter currently in love with pink? By all means, treat her to a pink study table. She will thank you for it. Who knows, the thank-yous might even come in the form of better report cards.

These are minor color transformations that do not require too much cost nor time. Amazing how a little color change can go a long way, and be pleasantly surprising.

Feature image: Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash





Remember the teenage character of Kevin Arnold played by American actor Fred Savage in the TV series, “The Wonder Years”? The comedy-drama series was a big hit back then, running from the late 80s to the early 90s. I remember following the series which tackled the coming-of-age journey of a typical teenage boy from the American suburbs. I was amazed at how Savage wonderfully depicted Kevin Arnold’s character, and how the voice-over narrative excellently played out Arnold’s inner thoughts.

Before: Fred Savage at rehearsal for the 41st Emmy Awards | Photo by Alan Light
This is Fred Savage now. | Screenshot from the Conan Show April 2016.

A number of scenes in those episodes reminded me of my own childhood. I got so fascinated with listening to Kevin’s inner musings, as it sometimes reflected my own thoughts as a teen. So how is this series related to colors?

What struck me with this TV series was how a person’s psyche goes through a lot of changes as he himself undergoes physical change. Our journey from childhood to adulthood and the experiences that we go through during this phase largely affects who we will become as adults.

When I reminisce about my childhood, I always visualize specific incidents and episodes in full color. Imagine how drab our past would be like if there were no colors. It’s even uncannily funny that when I talk about my childhood with siblings and cousins, and we laugh over a particular mischief, it’s often associated with a color, ‘naalala ko orange shirt ang suot mo’… ‘yung nauntog ka pa nga sa wall, kulay blue pa yun noon!”

Our memory’s recollection of our experiences growing up and its association with colors says a lot about how our behavioral patterns may be shaped by our surroundings.

When we were just starting our young family, the hubby and I made it a point to surround our babies with happy colors. This meant specifically painting our home then with yellow, terracotta and a cheerful kind of green. This color combo worked pretty well with our Mediterranean-themed home.

In the past, parents used to anchor the color of their kids’ bedrooms according to each child’s gender, assigning the daughter to a default pink while the son automatically gets a blue room. Today, young families with babies and toddlers are into more unique color choices. Some of the colors that work well for young children are those that infuse energy and encourage activity to support their developing minds. Like yellow, red is a good choice, if used sparingly or as an accent wall. Too much of red may cause restlessness and aggressive behavior. Orange is also a warm color, and using a subdued kind of orange helps influence friendliness, independence, and confidence in one’s self.

As the kids enter their early adolescent stage, this is where they start learning more about themselves and they begin to gain more confidence and self-esteem. A good color to accompany our kids during this stage is a light kind of blue which can promote intellectual thinking. At the same time, light blue soothes and calms down anxious minds or help ward off an oncoming tantrum. Purple can also inspire creativity, which helps to boost the creative growth spurt at this stage. Other colors that may work for puberty are the moderate uses of orange and pink since these are all warm colors which give the feeling of security.

As teenagers, it will not be surprising to find our children taking part in a lot of various activities in school and with friends. This are their years of peak activity, and toning down on colors may help calm raging hormones and overactive imaginations. Your best bet for bedroom colors are whites, beiges, even tinges of blue and green. These are considered cool colors, and can promote calmness and serenity within your home. At this time, your teenagers are already well-equipped to decide for themselves (and may even assert it), so why not ask them for their preferred bedroom color? A happy teenager always makes for a happier home.

So go ahead and change your home color as your children and your family go through their personal development. Believe me when I say it does its work in providing a fitting complement to life’s ever-changing circumstances

Kevin Arnold’s inner musings resonate, “Things never turn out exactly the way you planned. I know they didn’t with me. Still, like my father used to say, ‘Traffic’s traffic, you go where life takes you’ and growing up happens in a heartbeat. One day you’re in diapers, the next you’re gone, but the memories of childhood stay with you for the long haul. I remember how hard it was growing up among people and places I loved. Most of all, I remember how hard it was to leave. And the thing is, after all these years I still look back in wonder.”

The minute we enter a room, our eyes usually take in and scan anything that’s within our eye level, including what is usually the four corners of a room. However, there is a fifth element in a room that is usually taken for granted. Look up and see a room’s oft-forgotten element, the ceiling.

As much as it is important to wisely choose the final paint color for your walls, the significance of using the right kind, color, and texture for your ceiling cannot be underestimated. As a general rule, the ceiling color will affect the overall  mood of a room. A dark-colored ceiling may make a room smaller, but it can also create intimacy. A light-colored ceiling will allow for more illusion of space and airiness, but may make an already huge house with high ceilings seem cold and distant.

There are several shades you can choose from for your ceiling’s color, depending on the ambience you want to achieve.  Here’s a quick guide on how to play around with your ceiling paint.

Dark Paint

A dark-colored ceiling will always give a semblance of coziness and intimacy. This is especially helpful if the room has a very high ceiling, because the dark tone will “bring down” the ceiling and make the room feel less impersonal. A good candidate for this ceiling treatment are rooms used for cooling down or relaxing, such as the bedroom, music room, the library, or even the hubby’s man-cave.

This same treatment is also often used to create more drama to any room. One approach would be to give the room a monochromatic treatment, where the walls and the ceiling are painted the same hue. It would be safer to paint the ceiling a few shades lighter than the color used on the walls, as the ceiling tends to usually look darker than the walls. Not only will this approach give the room more character, it will also lend a more theatrical vibe.

Another advantage of a dark-colored ceiling is that you can get away with having a sparsely decorated room and your guests won’t even notice, since their eyes will tend to focus on the dramatic visual above them, which of course takes away the pressure of having to fill-up the room space with additional home furnishings and accessories.

Light Paint

The opposite treatment of a light-colored paint on the ceiling is also true. An effective way to create more space in an otherwise cramped room, is to paint the ceiling with a light color.

This will immediately give an airy and cool vibe. A tip: the lesser the contrast of your ceilings from your walls, the more effective the space-adding illusion will be. So if you want to paint your walls green, don’t make your walls too dark a green so that a light green ceiling would not create a contrast to your walls, but rather complement or harmonize it.


This one is a no-brainer. White is always safe, practical, and no fuss.

If you tend to be conservative, cautious, and traditional, then by all means paint your ceiling with white or off-whites.  This classic will never get outdated. However, the lighter the color used for the ceiling is, the easier it is to spot the surface’s flaw. A glossy paint finish will tend to magnify the ceiling’s unevenness, if any, so it would be a wise decision to use a flat-or semi-gloss white to hide or mask any surface imperfection.


Going for a personalized ceiling is when you can truly muster the courage to be the king or queen of your castle.

Personalization is when you go out of your comfort zone and proceed to stamp your ceiling with your unique kind of painting style, be it a specific pattern, a textured paint, or even a mural. Go ahead and try it! There is always Pinterest to go to for endless ideas.

Read more about personalized walls.

Choosing a paint color is always a matter of taste. The challenge is to create some harmony and balance in your choice of colors so that each room will be able to give off the ambience and feel that you want it to exude.



Ask any architect, interior designer, or contractor and they will readily tell you that one of the most expensive part of home building is the construction—and finishing—of the bathroom.  Yes, the much used, and abused, banyo. 

You may be a young couple excited about starting a family, and looking forward to seeing your first dream home, or perhaps a middle-aged couple with grown-up kids, envisioning the outcome of your bathroom remodeling.

Regardless of circumstance, one common factor when going through a construction is budget limitation. When it comes to budget allocation, it is not uncommon to hear people say that they’d be willing to swap the grandness of an opulent living or dining room for a clean and well-appointed bathroom. After all, the bathroom is every man’s own quintessential private headquarters, the epitome of his oneness with himself, the ultimate…well, COMFORT room.

There are all sorts of ways that a would-be homeowner can ensure that he gets the most out of his hard-earned money in terms of cutting down the cost of bathroom construction. One way is to immediately determine whether you’ll go for a tub, or a shower enclosure. My own experience taught me not to be too excited about replicating what I’ve seen in other people’s homes, and instead focus on what I really do want for myself and what works for me and my family. I was all too thrilled then to have a bathtub installed in the master bathroom, only to find myself having to pay a worker years later to have it removed. I realized belatedly that I didn’t like to have to hop over the ledge of the tub day in and day out. I wanted to keep things simple, and I also welcomed the extra space that came with its removal.

Another area for cost savings would be the bathroom fixtures. Matte-finish fixtures are oftentimes more expensive than the glossy ones. When I had our bathrooms remodeled, I preferred the matte ones over the glossies, as the former exuded a more modern feel. But the matte ones were playing hard to get, it was quite costly. So the compromise was—I still purchased the matte fixtures but settled for the slim-line…less bulky, less expensive. Brilliant, huh? They were more affordable, and even looked very stylish and contemporary.

One budget roadblock that we can all consider a major one is the expense of bathroom tiling. While there is a large assortment of tiles available in the market now, the really good ones can cost you an arm and a leg, not to mention the labor cost that comes with it, plus throw in the mess and dust you have to deal with from all that tile grinding. It can take quite a while too, to get the job done.

Tile installation too costly for you? Here’s a tip. Keep the tiling to a minimum, say just the flooring. Get that can of paint and start painting your walls. Probably the most important aspect of painting a wall is what comes before it, and that is wall or surface preparation. If the bathroom is already being constructed, and you got a worker who does great masonry work, then your painting job will be a breeze. You can even choose to go DIY with painting your walls, to further save on labor cost. You may even be surprised to later see that the painted wall treatment looks more jazzy than a conventional-tiled bathroom. Lower cost, yet high-end look. All the better!

Using the right kind of paint is also key. Among Boysen’s numerous lines of quality paints, I would recommend using Virtuoso and Healthy Home for the bathroom. What’s the advantage of one over the other? Depending on your requirements, you are likely to find one that suits your needs.

Both Virtuoso Silk Touch and Healthy Home Odor-less Antibacterial paints are equipped with Antibacterial Protection Technology. This assures you that your bathrooms, porous walls notwithstanding, will allow you and your family to enjoy cleaner surroundings.

Aside from its antibacterial properties, Virtuoso Silk Touch is your go-to paint if you want the low-sheen finish and easy-clean feature. Your walls will be very low-maintenance, because it has Dupont’s Teflon component, which gives the paint a natural resistance against common household stains. A bonus feature is that it’s odor-less, so it’s friendly to use for those who want to go DIY.

For the obsessive-compulsive who want to push for lower costs, Healthy Home is a great fit. Since it’s water-based, it’s also odor-less and its inherent antibacterial protection gives extra defense against microbes, mildew and fungus. So you are assured of an easy-to-clean, hygienic bathroom.

Go ahead, go DIY! Quality painted walls is the new sophisticated. Achieve the elegance you want, at a fraction of the cost. Win-win na ang scenario, bongga pa ang banyo.



Someone who identifies herself as part of the Millenial Generation or Gen Y once asked me how I handle my family’s finances, including strategies on saving and/or investing.

I look back fondly at a time when I had just started working for a few years, and being in that life pace where I had ‘landed myself a decent enough job, but not yet quite making it.’  I suppose the question comes with a mix of the desire to move things forward in her life economically but at the same time feeling not quite confident to stick her fingers into something that requires long-term financial commitment.

Because it has worked for me, I was quick to share this advice: Go into condo leasing.

It may be daunting for a millennial who’s just starting a career to even conceive of regularly deducting a significant amount from a seemingly meager salary to be able to pay off the monthly amortization of a condo, but believe me when I say it IS doable.

How? Where do I get the extra cash? I hardly earn enough for my own upkeep.

Check your daily practices. See that expensive coffee frappe you just bought? What about that designer bag you purchased last week? And let’s not forget your newly upgraded mobile phone.  Shall I go on?

Needless to say, these little things lumped together, if you make a conscious effort to save, will eventually yield a bigger nest egg, which will then mean stronger purchasing power to allow for bigger, more significant purchases…like a condo unit. Now is as good a time as any to seriously look into condo investing.

The past decade has shown us significant changes in family living and mobility.  Whereas before families choose their ideal home, and expect to live there until they retire, the family behavioral landscape now is much more mobile, more active, and increasingly dynamic. More and more families are choosing to live in condos instead of houses. We can blame the worsening traffic and numerous condo projects sprouting all over the metro for that.

This observed growing mobility provided the push for our own family to go into condo leasing. What was once a family get-away place or hang-out turned out to be a great source of passive income.

Having said that, as in any business, there were hits and misses in the process, but I’m happy to note that there were a lot more hits. I’m sharing these tips based on lessons I’ve learned from condo leasing.

1.  Be smart about choosing you condo’s location.

This cannot be emphasized enough. If you have to ensure making the right decision about just one thing, let it be the wise choice of location. More often, the area where your condo is located becomes a bigger factor in the decision making process of a would-be renter, than the condo unit itself. Choose an area where businesses thrive, ones which are near schools, and has close proximity to malls, groceries, hospitals, and churches. It goes without saying that you’ll also need to check on the building history of the condo corporate developer.

2.  Size matters.

Getting a family-size unit of 2 to 3 bedrooms with 2 toilets and bath may be a bigger cash-out investment, but this proved to be a more attractive rental offering than a studio dwelling. One, because there is an abundance of studio-size units, which means more competition in rentals. Two, because a head of the family will likely allot a higher budget to spend for rent for the comfort of his family, than, say a couple or a single tenant who would be willing to scrimp on rent since they’re on solo flight anyway, and would have less need for extra amenities.

3.  Colors can increase or decrease your unit’s rental potential.

My interior designer and I had a long discussion on the merits and demerits of using either a neutral or bold color. I had always favored whites or neutrals since I like my place bright and cheery, but she argued that a low-key, subdued shade or a vivid flash of color gives a place the added oomph, which makes it more cozy. We eventually struck a compromise of painting the unit a mix of whites, and a subdued gray, and injected colors through easy-to-replace accents like throw pillows and bed sheets.

4.  Interior design is key.

To renovate or not? This is a question you need to weigh carefully. Renovations and a great interior design work can push up your leasing potential significantly but a major rework may also put a hole in your pocket, and make it more challenging to get back your investment through rental fees. My own experience on this was good, in that, after renovating a plain-looking 3 BR unit, I was able to lease out the same unit for thrice as much as its previous rental fee.

Another good thing that comes out of having this passive income through rentals – now you can eye another condo investment using the extra income from your initial condo rental to finance monthly payments.

No worries, that designer bag can always wait.


The rains are here, and so are roof leaks.

Global climate change notwithstanding, the rains are here as expected at this time of the year. To most Pinoys, this can be a cause for celebration as we kiss the summer heat goodbye.

But it seems that the local weather has become so chummy with the heat that it doesn’t even want to leave us, even with the onset of the rainy season. So what’s worse than melting under the summer heat? It’s continuing to melt even when the rains descend upon us. And what’s even worse than that? Sweltering in the heat, amidst a torrent of rain, under a leaking roof.

The Eurythmics chill classic goes, “Here comes the rain again, falling on my head like a memory…,” except that one would feel far from chill, when raindrops are anything but a memory.

I can very well relate to the frustration of having an unidentified source of roof leak. The irritating pitter-patter sound of raindrops that you think you hear on the right side of the ceiling, only to frown at the suspicious stain starting to form in the middle of the room’s ceiling, and waking up one day to see that the paint ceiling on the right side is starting to peel off . Saan ba talaga galing ang tulo?!

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Roof leaks or any house water leaks for that matter, pose a major challenge for any homeowner. The best way to find out the source of a leak is to investigate it as soon as you see it. If necessary, remove ceiling openings to investigate further where exactly the leak is coming from, and the most ideal time to do this is during a heavy rainfall.

Last year was a challenging process of elimination for us, when we found ourselves badgered with a constant dripping sound coming from our ceiling, and soon enough we started seeing a map-like vision of a stain staring right back at us during our relaxation time. After establishing that it wasn’t a major leak, but big enough to bother us, I started asking around and discovered that sometimes, a leak does not necessarily mean a major house repair expense.

As it turns out, Boysen carries some products to address the perennial water leak and seepage problem common to home maintenance. Let me focus on 3 Boysen products—Boysen Roofgard, Boysen Plexibond, and Boysen Acrytex. Now, all three address water-related problems. How are they different from each other?

Boysen Roofgard

Boysen Roofgard is a gloss acylic, water-based roof paint designed to protect and adhere to most roof substrates. Roofgard can be applied on pre-painted galvanized iron sheets or on corroded G.I. surface roofings, provided that rust removal and application of Boysen Metal Etching Solution is done first.

Boysen Plexibond

On the other hand, Boysen Plexibond is an acrylic polymer (a kind of formulated plastic to resist breakage and elasticity), which when mixed with Portland cement, transforms into a compound that gives you excellent adhesion and water resistance. Plexibond is best for water seepage and is ideal for waterproofing roof decks and firewalls.

Boysen Acrytex

Boysen Acrytex is an acrylic solvent-based coating that forms a seamless, non-porous, watertight film that repels water and also prevents seepage. Acrytex is usually applied on any interior or exterior wall or substrate, be it wood, cement-type, or steel.

As with any house repair project, it is best to consult with a professional on how to go about repairs. But do consider that your water-leakage problems may not require extensive masonry rework, and may in fact be simply addressed by over-the-counter, tried-and-tested products, which we can easily access from our neighborhood home depot.

My home’s leaking problem was a small, 3 sqm cemented deck area right outside my son’s room, which caused water to fill up and leak through our kitchen area under it. I had the bigger cracks recemented which only took half a day, and applied Boysen Acrytex for good measure. It’s been bye-bye leaks since then. I’m glad it wasn’t as laborious as I thought it would be.

One happy homeowner here. Now, to get back those zzzzzz’s I missed out on, worrying on those leaks.





There is something amazing about seeing something breathtaking that brings about that feeling of awe and wonderment.  More than a few times, when I’ve gone out of town or visited a spectacular place locally, it is not uncommon to hear people say, “Ang ganda! Parang wala ka sa Pilipinas!”

Why is that? Why do we sometimes have this penchant for appreciating beauty around us, only to immediately follow it up with some negative quip about our country? I may liken this to a Pinoy who receives an unexpected guest in his home, and suddenly feels the need to be apologetic, “Pasensya na, simple lang ang bahay ko.”

I remember a conversation between my friends, with one in the process of finishing his house construction. Friend A mentioned how he needed to scrimp on the construction of his gate, adding that he can’t replicate the intricate grills of his house’s window, and so his gate might have a different design. He was worried that neighbors might have something to say about the non-uniformity of design. Friend B was quick to reply, “Why should they complain? They’re lucky they have something to look at.” This got me laughing so hard, but the truth resonated with me, that as a people, we are sometimes quick about wanting to make a good impression, but also just as quick to put ourselves down.

Outside our usual out-of-country or town trips and vacations, we usually find ourselves being in a place, either because we have something to do there, we needed to get something there, there’s an event, so on and so forth.  But how many times have we visited a place near us just because we want to see it with new eyes?

Recently, I have had the privilege of reconnecting with my college co-majors, and with our enthusiastic, small group of four still holding the same interests that initially brought us together in our youth, we’ve embarked on a journey of rediscovery.  Our squad’s mission:  Go to places that are familiar to us, not because we needed a reason to be there, but just because we wanted to. We make an effort to see the extraordinary out of the ordinary, because we have fun doing so. Who says we have to be rational all the time?

Armed with our smartphones, we fired away with unli-clicks here and there, channeling our inner shutterbug selves, and in the process gaining more appreciation for the myriad attractions that the familiar had to offer. What magnificence! Beautiful in its disorganized glory! Such explosion of colors!

The beauty of this nonsensical approach is that I’ve come to embrace and enjoy being in the moment. I’ve learned to ‘stop and smell the flowers’ again, sometimes literally. Breathe in the moment, breathe in the place. Savor the experience. I am rewarded with knowing the joy of seeing what is truly beautiful in my home. To be fair, our ‘lupang sinilangan’ is not really the cleanest, most organized place, but look closely and you will see the beauty amidst its chaos, simply because it is home. Our folks said it quite well … love your own because what is yours is beautiful.

Home is truly where the heart is, and this should be enough reason for us to lift ourselves up, to resist the lure of disparaging ourselves as a people.

So take that journey to rediscovering your home, your country, and yourself. The next time you’re in a company of people and you hear someone say, “Ang ganda!”, go ahead and say the words that need to be said and heard, “Kasi nasa Pilipinas ka.”

Imagine this scenario: You enter a cozy, swanky place and you feel this warm, comfortable feeling envelope you, and you whisper to yourself, “What a nice ambience.” Then you notice that the whole room is swathed in low, yellow light, and the walls are painted white.  Easy enough to replicate. You go home, arm yourself with a brand new pristine brush and cans of white paint, and merrily shift to DIY mode to paint the whites on, only to be dismayed in the end because your white feels flat and you did not quite achieve the cozy feel you were hoping for. What gives?

To the untrained eye, white is white. But the fact is, not all whites are created equal. If you ask me, white can be a very tricky color. We all know about the advantages of using white – for small spaces, white makes space bigger, white is generally deemed as a ‘safe’ color, and so on.  But white can actually wave its own brand of magic, if correctly used.

With the prevailing lifestyle shift of most Filipinos now, what with the seeming preference for cosmo and convenient condo living, the use of monochromatic color, especially white, has become very effective to use in small and limited spaces. But here’s the catch: those walls of white that so enchanted you? They are not painted just white.  Those ‘whites’ are actually a combination of white and different hues done in different shades to subtly create depths, and to be able to distinguish between areas, and yet allow for creating one harmonious space, therefore giving you that ‘cozy, warm ambiance’. Now if you are a brave soul, and still insist on channeling your DIY persona, go ahead and do so, but just come down a while from your mighty ladder, and elicit the help of the friendly people at your paint shop or depot’s Mix & Match station. They will be able to help you come up with your ‘right white’.

This unit was painted using Virtuoso Silk Touch for the walls because of its Teflon properties and Microban antibacterial protection. The unit owner opted to use Virtuoso because it will allow her to enjoy the whites longer as Virtuoso is an easy-clean, matte- finish paint. Using Virtuoso was also strategic, since the unit is also leased out, hence, Virtuoso’s easy clean feature makes the place less vulnerable for tenants who may not be as careful with the usage of the unit.

It has, in fact, been a very smart move for the owner to use various light shades of Virtuoso as the quality of paint has proven its longevity even with the constant comings and goings of different tenants, thus helping the unit owner in her own business of condo rentals. For this unit, white creates airiness, while exuding sophistication. Additionally, the source of light also determines whether your white will come out intensified or subdued.

Suffice it to say, white is a very flexible color. Floor may carry a very light tinge of gray, walls are “white”, with ceilings that are even “whiter”, all these subtle differences create that fluidity – making the floor, wall, and ceiling undefined space —thus allowing for the illusion of bigger space and yet providing a cohesive look.

So the next time you see a sea of white walls and ceilings and floors, and you start feeling relaxed, warm, and all fuzzy, look again, and you’ll know better…perhaps it’s not quite white.

After every school day, when my ten-year old son comes home from school, I greet him with a chirpy, “How was school today?” He smilingly greets me back with a kiss, “It was ok,” he cheerfully answers. Then I reply with something like, “Have something to eat, rest a bit, then we’ll study.”  And just like that, as if on cue, a monster of a wail is heard within the walls of our entire house. The message is clear: I’m not in the mood to study. Rewind, playback. This scene is all too familiar for most moms or dads who take on the tutor role for their child.

The Pout makes a special appearance when it’s study time.

It has always been a struggle between my son and me to go through our daily task of studying for quizzes, answering homework, and doing projects, and to finish it without resorting to what is seemingly like the makings of the next civil war. Sometimes, we’d finish late at night, which would mean that going to school wide awake the next day would be a struggle.

Sleepless in the city

Admittedly, my patience for tutoring my youngest is more finite now compared to then when I taught my two other older sons in their younger years. But hey, if you’ve been tutoring for the past 15 years, you’re entitled to get cranky during study time too, right? Well, right or wrong, the fact is study time had become a point of conflict between the two of us, and we both weren’t happy about that.

Since I didn’t want anymore squabbles of any kind, I devised ways to make our study landscape more cheerful and friendly. Here are 5 tips:

1.  Room color affects your mood.

Interior design books always discuss how there is a direct correlation between colors and moods, and the color of one’s room is no exception.  One can’t undervalue the importance of choosing the right color scheme to have a more conducive place to study.  For example, green walls make for a restful place and a calm green pastel may be good to quiet down a kid and get him into a study mode. For our part, we opted to color the kids’ room in neutral tones of beiges and off-whites, which the kids found very comfortable.

2.  Proper lighting is equally important.

My eldest son kept on wondering why he felt sleepy when reading in at the study table in his room. On closer inspection, we realized that the room didn’t have ample lighting, which contributed to his feeling of being lulled to sleep. We made provisions and added more pin lights, and lo and behold…we finally saw the light! No more drowsy spells.

3.  Provide your child with a ‘study headquarters’.

If Batman has a bat cave, by all means give your kid a study cave. When we were filling up my son’s information sheet for his new school, we got stumped with this question. “Does your child have an appropriate, properly lighted and organized study area in your house?” or something to that effect. A study headquarters is an important prerequisite for a more productive study period because once your child goes to his study area, he would have already psyched himself up for study time and is therefore more prepared to focus. It is of course par for the course that any presence of a gadget on his study cave should only be for the purpose of research or as a study tool.

Not exactly the most organized study table, but it helps to have a properly designated study area.

4.  Provide distractions.

Yes, distractions can be a good thing. It keeps the study session from getting boring, and serves as a bridge when assignments are especially tedious and lengthy. My son loves to hang out in the nipa huts scattered around our village park, and in one particular moody afternoon that he was having, he wanted to go to the park but had yet to finish his school work. Problem, right? Later on, I realized that the whining to go to the park was actually a solution. We headed off to the park, brought along his school stuff, and spent the rest of our tutor period studying inside the nipa hut. Cool! Some kids also concentrate better with relaxing music playing in the background. Easy, play some music.

Productive Distraction

5.  When you talk about studying, use the right tone.

I belatedly noticed that since our study time was becoming stressful for me, I’d usually summon my stern mommy voice when it was study time, thinking that this will get the message across quicker. Rather than helping, the result was counterproductive. My son started feeling the stress in my voice, and would automatically proceed to grumpy mode. I made the necessary adjustments, started sounding more cheerful about the whole thing, and he started responding positively as well. No more grouchy face, his and mine.

There are more ways that we could help our children develop a love and habit for studying. But first, we also have to explore what works for them. Once a child’s study area is established, the learning process will be much easier.

You can picture it vividly in your mind. Too vividly that you even dream about it, in fact, you can almost touch it, literally.  It’s your last thought before you doze off to la la land, and the first thing that flashes in your mind when you get back to consciousness…’ah, my dream home!’

The hubby and I were well into the  fifth year of our marriage, with our then two bundles of joy born a few years apart, and had been renting a decent bungalow near my parents’ home, when I started feeling the itch to have our own place. It was an itch that never left us. So, born out of our desire to finally see our dream home after years of mindful saving and investing, we bravely started the construction of our home.

It took many months of meetings and huddles with the architect and contractor, numerous trips to depots near and far to make sure we got the best building materials that we could afford. It was about ten months of highs—so happy about how our lanai turned out, and lows –- one of the kids’ bathrooms was too small so just gotta tear down a wall; no big deal, right? The journey was physically, emotionally, not to mention, financially exhausting that I felt like breaking down at some point, or maybe I did!

Then came the masonry work, tiling, and finally painting. Hubby and I both wanted a young, energetic vibe so that our sons could imbibe the positive energy. So we opted for a mango yellow tone for our walls. I loved how it turned out, complementing our home’s Mediterranean theme. It was years later when I was becoming bolder  at experimenting with colors that I decided on my own to paint accent walls with terra cotta. It gave the added oomph and contrast to my predominantly yellow home. Many happy Christmases were spent in our home, which became our sanctuary of memories.

Until one day, hubby came home looking frazzled after a 3-hour drive. Oh, did I mention that hubby worked in the northern part of the city, while we lived in the southern part? This was to be our new normal, the long hours spent in traffic. Suddenly, our dream home was no longer the solace it previously was. There were signs to act on it, to do something, but what? Then our sons, now teenagers, successfully made the cut to the bigger schools up north. What to do? Then, a moment of epiphany: It was time to move…and so we did, because our current location no longer fitted the status quo.

We acquired a pre-built house near the kids’ new schools. It was a year of transition.  We had the old house repainted, and we put it up for sale at the same time that renovation and repainting were being done in the house we were moving into. The enormity of the work ahead floored me, more like knocked me down…almost. We had to put in serious efforts in decluttering and purging, and bear the constant struggle with the angst of letting go of things that we had accumulated but were no longer essential. After a year of shuttling back and forth, we finally settled into our new home. It can still be considered a dream home by virtue of the house being practically near everything.

What were my biggest takeaways from our move?

The concept of a dream home can be temporary.

There was no doubt in my mind that my former house was the home I would grow old in. I failed to consider the changes in our daily lives as our kids grew and our needs changed. What was once ideal for us did not quite match our  current living requirements.

Stick to a home design that is generally appealing.

If you want to install a clear glass open shaft in the flooring of your second floor bathroom, or put a sliding kind of spiral staircase for entertainment in the middle of your living room, you may want to forego doing so. As much as it appeals to you, this may affect the marketability of your home later on.

The easiest and most cost-effective way to change the look of your home is by repainting.

Nowadays, repainting your home is easier than you think. Just a few adjustments of some furniture and stuff, and you’re on your way to making your home look new again. It is so uncomplicated that you can go DIY, and because paints now come odor-less, the repainting job will not significantly disturb the movement of people inside the house. A few strokes of paint, a change in the tone of color, can make a remarkable difference in your home’s ambience. I had my old house repainted with an off-white color palette as it was a more neutral color than my mango-bravo-yellow-extravaganza color of choice, which can be too bright for sensitive eyes.

Remember that every single item you bring inside your home will not disintegrate or melt on its own.

Until now, I still cannot believe the amount of purging and disposing I had to do during my decluttering efforts. It got me to a point where I asked myself, “Why did I buy this ______ (insert item), when keeping or disposing it only added to my ‘TO DO’ list? And my TO DO list was already way too long.” Fancy buying those Italian vases? Just remember that at some point, you will have to tackle how to dispose of them. They are not going to magically vanish into thin air to  make room for your new stuff.

It is every person’s dream to see his dream home come to fruition. And hey, it’s good to dream big dreams, but make sure to leave room for changes.

So, are you ready for your dream home?