design challenge | What Else Michelle

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Sneak Peek: My First Condo Unit Project

Okaaay, after months of struggling with my first ever take on interior decorating, here is the glimpse of what has been done so far. The pictures are not in their best quality because I had to take photos really quickly. It’s almost 9pm and most of the afternoon was spent organizing the clutter (the owners moved in weeks before I finalized everything and just dumped all their stuff in every nook and crannies they could find.)


There’s still a lot to do here but it’s more on just accessorizing and personalizing it. Here is the living room showing almost no personality of the owners (should I say it’s more like mine since they left the decision on me. Haha!) I still need to add boxes on the top shelf, a huge decorative bowl on the right of the TV to hold the remote, chargers, etc. The TV needs to be hung and the DVD player to be hidden in the shelf.

Since my idea for this condo unit is a “blank canvas to add art to”, I made the walls white and the furniture plain and in neutral colors  so different color palettes can be used. Check out the mood board I did for this although the result isn’t kind of exact. Framed artworks need to be added too so it can pull the look together. All the colors will come from accessories so those are essential to the design and should be chosen carefully or else it’ll end up cluttered.

By the way, that’s my DIY upholstered sofa!


My absolute favorite is the dining area. And my all-time favorite feature is the mirrored wall. The table was a design collaboration by me and my husband!

Below is how the kitchen looked like during the turn over. I am so not digging the medium brown faux wood formica and the salt and pepper granite so I had the cabinets painted.

kitchen-beforeAlthough it’s still far from what I have envisioned, the new cabinets now seem to match the look I’m going after: young, bright, “blank canvas.” If only the granite were plain black or white, I would have opted for a bright colored painted glass for the backsplash, or maybe mosaic tiles. But since salt and pepper is already a busy design, I just chose mirror for added depth.


There still has lots to do here. The left side of the kitchen where the stove is supposed to be is still empty. And don’t dare look inside those cabinets because it is where I put the “skeletons.” Haha!


This is what you see when you enter the master bedroom and that’s just it! There is nothing else behind that door except the wall. That’s how small this room is. The other one is even smaller. FYI, I didn’t choose the curtains nor the beddings. My mother in-law placed them temporarily (I hope!) while we’re still waiting for the black out curtains to be finished.

Since the walls are painted medium gray, the curtains that I wanted for this room is white with a strip or two of accent color. The beddings should be pure 300 or above thread count luxurious linen for a hotel feel. The silver leafy curtains should be ok if paired with plain white linen. The black and white beddings should also be alright if the curtains and pillow covers are plain too. This current look is too department store-ish… Ick! So not luxurious at all.

bedroom1-semiafterI love the pearly leatherette headboard which we DIY’ed too (husband and wife tandem) but something is still missing. I’ll be back next week though to finish it. Again, the bedroom looks like a hotel room with no trace of the owners’ personality. No wall art yet and other personal paraphernalia.

It’s December and I Haven’t Done Anything in my To-Do List

Sorry for being MIA for the a few weeks. As usual, crazy schedule is my alibi and probably lack of exercise, thus the lack of energy to do everything. I know it would be impossible to accomplish everything in my list but I’m going to try my best because the house really looks pathetic. It has to look somehow appealing for 2013. I placed the list on my sidebar just to help me remind myself of the tasks to do.

Anyway, just wanted to show some little home improvement we’ve done for the past months (ever since I started this blog.)

First, is our living area. The walls were re-painted and all the ugly chocolate brown “baseboard” that was oh-so-80s were painted white as well. And since we have that unusual (and downright ugly) half-wall protrusion, I had the center covered up so that there will be alcoves on either side.

Now, it looks clean (and bare). I’m still trying to decide what to do with those alcoves since they are irregular in shape, not the perfect book case type. And, notice those brown stains at the bottom? It’s one of the many things I hate about this house. I think that is rust coming from the concrete wall. Same thing is happening to the rest of the house walls. This house really needs major overhaul!

Here is the messy dining room before…


… and now the repainted one. The best we could do with teeny budget after the flood damaged the walls.

Since I badly needed storage for all the clutter we have, a built in shelf was made.

I am planning to make a built-in cushioned seat out of that (another!) wall protrusion so I could get rid of those monoblocks. I also want to  build a longer dining table out of reclaimed wood. Hopefully next year. So much to do to make this house quite picture-worthy. Haha!

And lastly, here’s the wall that was severely damaged during the flood. You can’t see it here but the top corner was about to fall any minute so we had to change some of the wooden frames under the ceiling. There were water bubbles under the paint (yes, bubbles with water, brown and icky!) so the paint had to be peeled. And again, there were rust stains showing through the white paint.

Here’s the wall now.

The rust stains keep on showing despite layers of paints (see bottom left of the door). I keep on trying to make this house better but it just keeps on messing itself up. Yes, it’s the house that doing all the mess, not us since this is an old, crumbling house. This is not out permanent house and so we just can’t do major improvements (we better save the money for our “forever home” as Mommy G. calls it.) It’s a bit frustrating and challenging at the same time because the budget will always come first.

I hate the floor too. It’s dirty and corroding. No matter how much we mop and vacuum it, it’s always sandy. I wanted to have it tiled but again, it will cost us a lot for something that is not ours…

So there, I just hope I can have powers to turn this house into something I can love… 🙂

Renovation: From ICK to sleek toilet

It’s been almost two weeks since I have last updated this blog. I’ve got to earn some extra bucks and so I had been awfully busy with work. Ok, I admit, that’s what usually happens when laziness strikes. It’s like losing the momentum and starting again is such a challenge. Anyway, I posted a proposed toilet design earlier this month and now it’s finally finished! Here’s the “before” pictures before I go through the details. I wasn’t able to take the actual “before” picture of the ladies’ toilet because they had already stripped it down when they turned it over to us. This is the men’s toilet actually. The ladies’ toilet was a pink/maroon version of this–pink marbled tiles for the wall, maroon version of the green floor tiles and yes, you guessed it right, pink toilet bowls and lavatory! The wash area looked exactly the same as the image on the left (except it was pink and the mirror had a huge chip on the upper right hand corner and our pail was way smaller than theirs. Hehe)

PROBLEM: Upon entrance, there were three cubicles squeezed in this tiny space. The two on the left were so tiny, they were less than 70 cm in width and less than 1 meter in depth so if you’re taller than average, your knees would probably touch the door when you’re doing your thing. And if there were at least 2 people using the mirror/lavatory, it was quite hard to get into the 3rd cubicle. I hope you can visualize how small this space was.

SOLUTION: We demolished the concrete partitions, moved the cubicles (now just two instead of three) to the left side with toilet bowls facing the right wall instead of the door and opted for wooden partitions to save space.

Here are a few progress shots:

The hanging countertop!

Almost done!

The project is our Kingdom Hall’s toilet (I am one of Jehovah’s Witnesses) so the funds were donations only. Here’s what we did to maximize the budget (P30,000 + donated water closet and lavatory + labor of love):

For the walls, I wanted a lot of horizontal lines to make the space look wider and since plank tiles are too expensive (around P160/pc), 60x60cm tiles (P152/pc-Arte Ceramic Tiles) were cut into 4 making them 15x60cm. We also used 60×60 tiles for the floor and cut them in half. (30X60 tiles are about P90-110/pc). White grout was used to emphasize the lines. Since this is a just a toilet and not a bathroom, tiling the entire wall would be unnecessary. Only 1.05m of the wall was tiled, just a little above the water closet. 2″x1″ painted wood were placed where the tiles end for coverage and accent. Instead of using granite slab for the countertop, we used granite tiles which we got from Floor Center on sale for about P135/pc. The sleek water closets were also on sale in Wilcon (about P3,800/pc. Similar types are priced P7,000 up) Overall, we spent about P8,000 for the tiles. Most of the budget went to our fabricated wooden partition which totaled to more than P15,000, including marine plywood, formica, fittings and accessories. But still, it’s way cheaper than buying from a supplier/installer. The cheapest they can give us was P17,000 for just a PVC partition. No way!

That floral ceramic tissue holder and soap dispenser were just P29 and P19. The white vase was P199, all from Uniwide Warehouse in Novaliches.

And yes, knowing me, I would never, ever type the toilet rules in Word, print it out, laminate it and just tape it on the wall. Gotta do it with style! Here is the “after” shot again: 

We installed four pin lights instead of just one round light in the middle. See how warm white light can easily make a space exude an elegant, hotel-like vibe? When using daylight bulbs, you can see every visible flaw, making the space look so ordinarily blah. Plus, everyone seems to look prettier in warm light considering that really huge mirror. Hehe!

Again, everyone who worked for the completion of this renovation were all volunteer brothers and sisters, pure labor of love. Noone was paid, but still, everyone was more than willing to devote his/her skills, knowledge, energy and time for the improvement of Jehovah’s house. This is just a small toilet, but the brothers and sisters in Joplin, Missouri worked on a bigger scale project–an entire Kingdom Hall finished in just two weeks.

The Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses already built one in Joplin following last year’s deadly EF-5 tornado.  A brand new church on Highway N north of Republic is built with Insulated Concrete Forms — basically giant Styrofoam-type Lego blocks that can withstand winds up to 250 miles per hour. The blocks are a foot thick with a six-inch reinforced concrete center. Once the foundation is poured, more than 500 volunteers built the new church in about two weekends — all without accepting paychecks. read more

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