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Create illusion of space in 20-sqm condo

By Marge C. Enriquez
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 05:48:00 03/25/2009

Filed Under: Lifestyle & Leisure, Lifestyle (House & Home)

WITH GOOD SPACE PLANNING, a 20-sq. m. condo need not be like a shoe box.

Architect Erwin Manalang, managing partner of Teknomobel, an interior design and furniture manufacturing firm (tel. 7101960), has come up with design solutions: built-in units, convertible furniture and lots of hidden storage.

?Urbanites, young couples and professionals are looking into small pads in the metropolis. We came up with a system where you can double the space.

Manalang shows how a 20-sq. m. one-bedroom unit can function like a 40-sq. m. condo unit.

Light, neutral colors make the room expansive.

Since clutter is the main concern of condo dwellers, many of the walls are actually built-in cabinets.

To save on space, the furniture has dual purposes and its proportion scaled down. Benches contain lots of drawers, and freestanding cupboards can be converted into a work desk. Beds and iron boards can be tucked in the walls and laid out when needed.

Doubling the space means doubling the utility. You can use the space for other activities during the day. A room, for instance, can be a study or office by day and converted into bedroom at night.

The kitchen can be transformed into dining area with cabinet caddies that can be folded up into a dining table. The hallway is actually a walk-in closet.

Teknomobel?s furniture is made from engineered wood in laminate. ?You don?t have to cut down trees. Engineered wood uses only the branches. This is the new inclination of buyers. They want a nature-friendly approach to manufacturing,? says Manalang.

The architect explains that the 20-sq. m. condominium has become a big market trend. It has been popular with people working in call centers. ?Twenty years ago, people moved into the suburbs because the city was getting crowded. But with the rising cost of gasoline and traffic, they?re now acquiring small condominiums in the city for convenience,? he says.

?Our advice is that for a small space, stick to simple natural colors so the space looks expansive. Too much of plain colors can get dull so we add accent paints and accent finishes?a range of finishes in which all the swatches match. The selections are idiot-proof. They can be mixed and matched without worrying that nothing can blend. The colors are mostly earth tones and natural colors drawn from nature and sunlight. The finishes are suitable for condo living?resilient to the wear and tear of daily use and are cost-effective.?

Long-lasting finish

One finish is Thermafuse laminate which endures extreme heat and pressure. The hardware is also very sturdy and rust-proof and the acrylics are safe for children. ?You can use them at the lower portion of the cabinet without fearing that the kids will break it or hurt themselves,? says Manalang.

Even the lighting design follows an idiot-proof formula, where every square meter follows a certain ratio of lights and fixtures, depending on the pricing. The lighting could be as direct as task lighting for reading or for highlighting artworks, or cove lighting for mood and avoidance of glare.

On trends, Manalang observes that clients are more mobile, hence they want a low-maintenance lifestyle with less clutter. ?Storage is their main concern because clutter is the enemy of space. Compared with the past decades, they are more selective about their accessories. They are more pragmatic, and favor objects which have emotional value.?



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