home design


The Boysen and SM Home collaboration sprouted wings and flew down to the queen city of the south Cebu City. SM Home’s assistant vice president for Marketing Tom Castañeda organized a design event called The Essentials of Condo Living on February 24 and 25 at the SM City Cebu Northwing Atrium.

Boysen in SM Home Cebu City

The Cebuanos were treated to room vignettes to show how paint colors and home furnishings and accessories could be combined to make contemporary, cool living spaces. The Technology palette of Boysen Color Trend 2017 was the designers’ favorite, with the pink Techy Romantic being the showstopper.

How to Infuse Personality Into Your Home with Paint and Color

The crowd was very much into the talks given by the interior designers and stylists of the vignettes. Boysen was there to talk about how to use paint to make your homes become places you would be so happy and proud to call your own. Our very own Carla gave the following ten tips:

The Boysen x SM Home Collaboration in Cebu City
White is a safe color
The Boysen x SM Home Collaboration in Cebu City
Use pastels
The Boysen x SM Home Collaboration in Cebu City
Grey is cool and modern
The Boysen x SM Home Collaboration in Cebu City
Make accent walls like ombre
The Boysen x SM Home Collaboration in Cebu City
Use colors from nature coz organic is in
The Boysen x SM Home Collaboration in Cebu City
Black adds drama
The Boysen x SM Home Collaboration in Cebu City
Open yourself to bold colors for functional features like doors
The Boysen x SM Home Collaboration in Cebu City
Change room dimensions with stripes
The Boysen x SM Home Collaboration in Cebu City
Geometric shapes for a modern feel
The Boysen x SM Home Collaboration in Cebu City
Embrace color

More Collaborations with SM Home

SM Home’s Tom has a lot of things on his drawing board. I’m sure Cebu is one of them but I don’t know where or when. So my advice to you, dear reader, is just continue visiting us here. We’ve got lots of things up our sleeve too 😀


The first post we wrote about the work of interior designer Gila Salvador of Madhouse Design Studio, was about a renovation she did of a small space, a 22 sqm condo to fit a family of 5.

This  second one is about another renovation of a 29 sqm condo, again for a family of 5. It is not only space that was the challenge but also the dated look of the condo because it is in a 25-year old building.

Ways to Maximize Small Spaces

What I admire about Gila is that she makes something seemingly impossible possible. You can see from both projects that she really listens very closely to what the homeowners have to say. Here are the main elements that make her projects successful:

  1. She uses both vertical and horizontal spaces in her design.
  2. Clutter makes any space look smaller so she provides as much storage as she can so that the family members have somewhere to put their belongings.
  3. She provides fitted furniture which may be multifunctional, like a bed-cum-couch.
  4. Wall, furniture and upholstery colors are neutrals and blend well together.

Gila is the CEO and Creative Director for Madhouse Design Studio, an interior design, graphic design and construction company based in Metro Manila. If you follow her FB page, you will see that Gila’s unique abilities to cater to this market has been keeping her so busy.

For more tips, read these blog posts about small spaces:
Design Ideas for Small Spaces
Tips on How to Use Paint to Make Your Condo Look Bigger
Small, Space-Saving and Sustainable Structures


Whether you have a big lawn or a pocket garden, landscaping produces a huge impact in beautifying your home. And choosing the right plants is the key to effectively utilizing your space. Factors like clients’ vision and lifestyle, as well as terrain should be defined in determining your plant selection.

Filling in a Big Yard

The client: Bachelor with no children, with household help
The terrain: Big front Yard
Plants used: Mothers tongue (espada), Eugenia, Yellow pandan, picara, Spider lily, licuala and Peanut plant.
Project duration: 1 week
Rationale for plant selection: Since there are no children to use the space for recreation and given its sloping terrain, the idea is to turn it into a small field of plants to fill blank space and accent house design.

Designing big spaces is a landscaper’s dream come true. The idea is to turn it into a vast garden. To achieve this, plants of various colors, shapes and textures were added to create a lush landscape. A dedicated household help to maintain the garden is needed, as this requires a lot of tending and TLC.

A rainbow of colors– Mother’s tongue (espada), licuala, spider lilies provide the gradients of green while yellow pandan provides contrast.

Tip: Always consider plant growth when grouping them together.

Maximizing small spaces

The client: A family of 4, with household help
The terrain: A small front space
Rationale for plant selection: This space was made to have easy access from the garage to the front door, a mini zen garden was planned to soften the modern design of the stairs
Plants used: Dragon ball of different sizes, Horsetail on vases
Project duration: 2-3 days

The client: An extended family, with household help
The terrain: A medium sized garden at front of house
Rationale for plant selection: Client on a budget, wanted to maximize space with minimal plants
Plants used: Dragon ball of different sizes, selloum, maki
Project duration: 1-2 days

Dragon balls are fun to use. You can have it potted or on the ground. They are practical plants that can fill a space with minimum cost.

Putting selloum plants in your garden is the easiest way to maximize space and create dimension while flat stones add curves and contours the landscape.

Maintenance of this plant selection is stress free. Water the plants once daily and a monthly visit from a gardener will do.

Tip: Limit your plant selection to a few that go together as a group. Avoid filling your garden with one of everything.

There is an empty wall left in my shoebox condo, and I want a mural for my home….maybe. Or should I go for a painting instead? There’s always this ambivalence because I feel that murals are too permanent. Nothing wrong with that if you like permanence. However, I’d think, “What if it’s no longer in style? What if I get bored with it? What if I have to move out? It would be such a waste that I’d have to leave it behind!…” And so on and so forth, you know that kind of busy thinking that goes nowhere and wastes time.

Hamming it up

On a trip to Puerto Princesa a year ago, I stayed in a hotel called Canvas Boutique Hotel whose interiors were designed by Edwin D. Uy.  There were murals everywhere, also in each room. It gave such a personal and unique touch to the place, something I like having in hotels that I stay in. From the Canvas website: “The walls at Canvas speak volumes, and—quite literally—every storey has a story. Weaving that narrative into life were a team of visual artists who rendered Palawan culture, life forms and mythology onto colorful, vibrant reverbs of the island’s most celebrated cultural traits.”

Mural in the bedroom
Murals in the driveway
Mural in the floor lobby
Murals on the walls leading to the rooms

I wish I were an artist who could paint murals, like Nell del Rosario or the Ink Scribbler. Then I would just pick up my brush and create an obra maestra on my walls, at least that’s the goal. If it comes out a disaster, then it would be mine. So who cares, right? Uhm, my courage levels are not there yet. Maybe in this lifetime it’s gonna happen.

A long, long time ago, I had signed up for a lifestyle blog Apartment Therapy.  If interiors or anything about home are your thing, subscribe coz it’s a wonderful site! I got this post about murals in my inbox the other day. Oooh, so lovely! It’s a mountain mural made by Pam Lostracco from Canada, which apparently changed her business course in life.

There are many muralists who use Boysen paints for their projects. I will write about their works once I get my act together. Right now, I’m still busy thinking about my empty wall and the possible artwork I can paint on it.











Minimalism is a trend that has yet to influence living spaces. Space is a resource that is sometimes overlooked in sustainable architecture. Life quality decreases as population density increases since pollution levels rise, population goes out of hand, and resources become more expensive. Many of us in the Philippines are experiencing these effects firsthand.

Manila is one of the most densely populated cities in the world. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, the capital region had a population of 12.9 million people in 2015, inhabiting an area of 620 square kilometers – that’s around 21,000 people per square kilometer. In the same year, New York had a population of 8.5 million people living in a 784 square kilometer area, or about 11,000 people per square kilometer.  This means that Manila is nearly twice as densely populated as New York City, the most crowded city in the United States. Other cities that are having difficulties with rapidly growing populations include Karachi, Mumbai, and Jakarta.

Designers are now thinking of ways to reduce living space by creating homes that are compact, stylish, and easy to construct. Living in small homes discourages mindless consumerism (since you wouldn’t have enough storage space if you buy too many things) and uses less resources like electricity, which prompts people to live greener lifestyles as well.

Not Your Average Cardboard House

The Wikkelhouse is designed by the Dutch studio Fiction Factory. They created this recyclable structure that can (supposedly) last a century. It is lined with waterproof coating and wood paneling to make it more durable while 24 layers of cardboard are used for the body. The lightweight material also allows it to be brought anywhere and constructed within a day.

The Zero-Carbon Caravan

Green Cat Technologies from France presented a self-powered caravan that sources its power from sunlight and wind. The 26-foot trailer can be unfolded to maximize space and transform into a 420-square-foot home. There’s enough room for a small family, and the house even includes a deck where you can host intimate parties.

If IKEA Sold Houses

The Pin-Up Houses designed by Small House Architects is a three-part house you can build in three hours – by a team of three people. They claim it’s easy enough to build on your own, in fact their website sells a book How to Build a Tiny House  to help you out with the process. The sections are color coded and are for sleeping, working, and cooking.

The Luxe Box

KODA by Estonian firm Kodasema is a moveable, two-storey house that sources its power from solar panels. Unlike the other compact homes, it arrives whole so it spares you from manual labour, plus it also takes less than a day to install. It’s made out of concrete-timber composite panels which keeps the structure sturdy and independent of a foundation.

The Transformer

TEN FOLD Engineering’s unfolding building takes convenience up a notch. Their structures are easily transportable and open up with a push of a button. The buildings come in varying sizes and are fit for a multitude of uses, such as homes, offices, clinics, schools, and shops. It doesn’t need a foundation and is powered by solar panels.

Child’s Play

EkoJunto is a Costa Rican company that sells bricks which are completely made out of recycled PET plastic. The bricks are shaped to make them fit with one another like Lego blocks, making it easier for people to assemble a house. This innovative method of upcycling doesn’t only benefit the environment, but low-income people as well.

Imagine if these inventions are utilized to help solve our problems here in Metro Manila. I think the EkoJunto would be especially beneficial, to rid the city of trash while also providing homes for the poor.

There are many ways to help solve our issues on space, but it would mean giving up on a lot of excesses and living simpler lives. We are conditioned to believe that having bigger homes and more things lead to a happier life, but consumerism and greed are big factors contributing to environmental degradation.

The young designer and entrepreneur Gila Salvador transformed a 22-sqm condo to fit a family of 5.

For this turnkey project, the team did concept, construction, furniture and accessories, and finished the project in 45 days.

Gila said, “We always use Boysen paints in our projects. Also, stay tuned for our upcoming project wherein we used Boysen paints as well.”

This video has become viral with nearly 3.5 M views. Because of the exposure, the company announced a couple of months ago that they were fully booked for July and August. According to a post in their facebook page, “Due to the overwhelming amount of inquiries and oculars conducted in the past 2 weeks. We are now officially fully booked for July-August projects. We can only take in a maximum of 12 construction projects every 30-45 days. But rest assured we are expanding our team to cater to more clients.”

Gila is the CEO and Creative Director for Madhouse Design Studio, an interior design, graphic design and construction company based in Metro Manila.

What are personalized walls exactly? These are walls that you can call your own, where you can put your mark on, paint on it with whatever it is that you want to create, using colors that appeal to you and never mind the rest of the family (if you don’t live alone, but ask permission at least). It is a space of individuality, YOURS. It could be a journal of dreams, YOURS. Or a manifestation of who YOU are.

Where you live, you can have as many personalized walls as there are walls, as many as your time allows, and as magnificent as your imagination is. Skill comes to play too but hey, if you’re the experimental type, no problem. If you’re more straitlaced, now is the time to take off the fetters that you put on yourself, and just let it rip. It’s paint. You can always change it if you don’t like it.

– Robin Sharma, Canadian writer and leadership speaker

Tom Castaneda, AVP Marketing for SM Home, and Boysen continued the collaboration in August because the one in July was successful. This time though we wanted to up the ante by introducing personalized walls using more Color Trend 2017 colors.

So what kind of personalized walls did we use in this first round?

Hexagon High
Make It Metallic
Dreamy Ombre
The Quadruple Triangle
A Rebel’s Kitchen

More about the Rebel Yell kitchen here.

You will find the Complete Your Home at SM Home exhibit at the bridgeway in the fifth floor of SM Makati. You still have time to catch those personalized walls coz it ends on August 31.







How do you want your dream home to look like? How do you create it? This process starts even before you found a place to buy.

After going through the process of buying a home, there follows a time of creativity, fun, exploration, experimentation and the stresses that come along with a major life change.

If you buy a property which is already standing, you kind of fit your needs in the spaces already provided. If you start with air, the sky’s the limit. For some, this is exciting; for others, it’s a nightmare.

Sir Terence Conran, architect, designer, entrepreneur, author, and the man behind the furniture store Habitat, said that before you even begin to think of how you want your new home to look like, you must first KNOW YOURSELF AND HOW YOU LIVE. This advice is true for both scenarios – an existing property or one yet to be built.

These are two books that I enjoyed reading years ago.

Small Spaces: Inspiring Ideas and Creative Solutions
The Ultimate House Book: For Home Design in the Twenty-First Century

1.  Explore the Style that Appeals to You

Let’s limit this post to a home that already exists.

When I was searching for a condo to buy, I was already dreaming about how I wanted my new home to look like. For me, it had to be different from my previous home abroad, which was an eclectic loft, contemporary-cum-minimalist-cum-Asian. In other words, maskipaps, or anything goes.

Now that I was in the Philippines, I wanted to use as many local furnishings as I could, and I wanted color! Not an explosion of color, but there should be more than just neutrals.

I loved this part of the process because it’s so creative and allowed me to dream as I tried on different interior styles in my head. I discovered new things and new places,  What’s great about this phase is that you can do it for FREE for as long as you like, and as many times as you like!

Go and visit as many furnitures stores and home depots that you can. The only major drawback to this is that you have to deal with the traffic. But hey, it’s YOUR HOME, and that deserves loving attention!

Surf on the internet, pin images to a board, mine was entitled “My Dream Home”, read online magazines. Or buy those magazines you like and have the satisfaction of turning the pages, cutting out those images that you find interesting, and making a scrapbook out of them.

There’s so much inspiration everywhere. Try different styles and see what resonates.

2.  Have a Budget

When you’ve found the style you want for your interiors, make a budget. These are the following costs that I considered:

  • the professional fee of an architect and/or interior designer
  • construction costs + 20% for budget overruns
  • the cost of furnishings and accessories

If you need to rent a place temporarily while work is being done in your new condo, you should also include that in your budget. Just remember that most of the time, construction projects run into delays, so you should again prepare for that possibility by creating a buffer.

If you’re a creative maven, even if it’s only in your mind, then skip the architect/interior designer, unless you need to do major renovations like knocking down walls, redesigning a bathroom (e.g. changing the tiles or sanitation fixtures), or kitchen (e.g. changing cabinetry, adding electrical outlets). A rule of thumb is to hire an expert to do plumbing, masonry, carpentry, and electrical works. But if you are a DIY guru aside from being a pseudo-designer, go for it. Be prepared though for a lot more stress. If you’re working full-time, just know that you’re heading for a burnout.

3.  Stick to Your Budget

There will be temptations, especially if you have an architect/interior designer who has expensive tastes, and he’ll show you all those beautifully designed, posh furniture and lighting fixtures. If money is coming out of your ears, by all means, buy! But if you’re a working girl who often dreams but is practical to the core, challenge him to come up with alternatives that are within your budget.

Especially if you need to buy everything, including home appliances down to plates, it is better to keep within your constraints. This is for your future peace of mind.

Look for bargains, even in garage sales. Negotiate for discounts. And definitely, do NOT max out your credit card.

4.  Buy the Essentials First and Furnish Your Apartment Slowly

Make a choice from the start what things you need to have immediately, and which pieces can wait.

Don’t scrimp on the essentials. Don’t go overboard either. Consider every purchase. Avoid trendy stuff. Make sure that not only do you need it, but you can really feel that this is a piece that will stay with you for a very, very long time. Decide which pieces you will really invest in.

Examine a potential investment closely and thoroughly: Does it have a solid frame? Is it made of non-hazardous, durable, sustainable (even better) materials? Is the craftsmanship good, if not excellent? Can you see the quality with one look?

The good thing about taking your time is that you avoid buying things that look good, but would fall apart after a short time. Or you avoid ending up with a matchy-matchy kind of decor, that over-coordinated look that would make your future guests think they are in a theme park.

5.  Use Social Media to Find Stuff You Can Use

Put social media to good use so that you save money. Ask family and friends if they have furnishings that they want to get rid of for a song. 

Don’t be greedy though. Be careful that you don’t buy things because they’re nice and inexpensive. Just get those things that you need. You really wouldn’t want to start living in a new home that’s already cluttered.




















Living in the city, the noise never stops—the perpetual buzz of traffic, our countless interactions throughout the day, the nonstop activity.

Then there’s the noise from our smart devices. Our phones keep us in constant connection with everyone we know, always a single tap away from bombarding ourselves with an endless store of information and audiovisual stimulation.

It isn’t really as bad as it sounds. That’s just how we live today, but it also means that real, quality silence —the kind we all probably need more of—has become much harder to come by.

We can’t control the world of noise around us, but we can control how much silence we actively try to bring into our lives.

Why Silence Matters

A lot of us simply prefer noise to quiet, but we can’t deny the benefits that silence has to offer. By reducing auditory distractions, we’re able to relax, recharge, and destress more easily. Reading, working, and even reflecting in silence help us to engage the complexities of our inner thoughts and emotions more effectively.

By carving out our own personal quiet space at home, even for a few minutes to an hour or so, we’re giving ourselves a chance to get in touch with ourselves and take a break from the everyday noise.

Set the Mood

Choose the quietest part of your house where you feel most calm, or create one for yourself. Install soft, orange lighting instead of bulbs that give off a harsh white glare. Go for a neutral color palette that’s pleasant to the eyes. A room with windows will provide you with natural light, ventilation, and a feeling of spaciousness. Some scented candles and essential oils wouldn’t hurt either.

The biggest factor to consider, however, is clutter. The less, the better. Dirty and disordered surroundings make a space feel cramped and less welcoming. It isn’t hard to imagine how different you’d feel in a messy room versus a clean one. The tidier the room, the more you’ll feel a sense of order and composure.

Disconnect All Devices

Or at least your Wifi and mobile data. Eliminate as many distractions that you already have enough of during the day—notifications, emails, compulsive urges to check social media.

Many prefer their self-imposed quiet time just before going to bed. A convenient strategy, especially since gadget use has been shown to cause difficulties in sleeping. Aim to finish as much work as possible at least an hour before sleeping to give your brain time to wind down.

Be Alone

Besides the obvious lack of any possible interaction with anyone besides yourself, being alone (at least for me) makes it easier to put yourself in that desired state of calm and self-reflection.

Total solitude isn’t always possible, but when it is, you’re more likely to tap into thoughts, emotions, and ideas you might not normally engage with during the day.

Make a Ritual of It

If doing absolutely nothing for prolonged amounts of time bothers you, incorporate your allotted quiet time into a certain activity that you can do in silence: drinking coffee, taking a shower, eating, driving, doing chores. And if you have the patience for it, take 5-10 minutes of pure, uninterrupted reflection the moment you wake up to plan your day, or just before you sleep.

For the productivity-obsessed, the idea of a self-imposed quiet time would sound completely unnecessary and wasteful. But on days when I do have the luxury of allowing myself a golden hour of silence, I always feel refreshed and ready to dive back into the noise of the day.

The Boysen Color Trend 2017 has many blues – all bold, buoyant and beautiful.

For this month’s SM Home’s Complete Your Home, Tom Castaneda, AVP Marketing, chose three:

Rebel Yell

Rebel Yell belongs to the palette Maximal. It has the bright, intense blue of lapis lazuli. Rebel Yell was used to paint the kitchen vignette, giving energy to the space, which is very fitting for a place where food is prepared, food being the fuel required by all of us to keep living full lives.

Designer Denim

Used in the living room vignette, Designer Denim is even deeper in color than Rebel Yell. It is a bold color, dark in hue but not sombre.  Paired with light warm greys and a muted orange, the living room becomes a place where you can relax and find your balance.

Space Encounter

Space Encounter, the lightest blue in the trio, has a tinge of grey. This color is used in two vignettes, the bedroom and the home office.

In the bedroom, the feeling you get is one of buoyancy, a place of rest and feather-light dreams.

Space Encounter in the home office is used together with other colors in the Technology palette – Shimmer Shake, Techy Romantic, and Crystal Sparkle. With all four as your wall colors, you’d expect some jarring notes. But in this case, you get a place that invites you to do your creative best in your work.

I’ll be writing more about the new look of Complete Your Home in the coming weeks, to show you that with a change of colors and different furnishings, you get a totally different look-and-feel to any space. The vignettes are on show at SM Home in the bridgeway at the fifth floor of SM Makati until the end of August.