An interior designer's compact city retreat

An interior designer's compact city retreat 
By Walter Ang
June-August 2006 issue
Metro Home & Entertaining

Forty square meters. That's all the new studio owner had to work with in her new little cubbyhole in one of Makati's newest high rise condominiums. But for this on-the-go restaurateur and interior designer, it turned out to be more than enough.

"When I got this studio, I just wanted to try out having a small space near my restaurant, a half-way house if you will," she recalls. "But having spent several nights here already, I've realized what a huge convenience it is."

The long commutes home to the family residence south of Manila during the week have lessened. More than just a place to rest or freshen up before zooming off to the next meeting, the space has been imbued with a more meaningful purpose. "It's become somewhat of a spiritual center for me. I come here to clear my mind. I even hold Bible study sessions here."

The elegant purity of the tiny space is the handiwork of interior designer Ana Rocha. Emphasizing that this is a place intended to reconnect with clarity, the designer draped white shower curtains by the door to create a small foyer. Stepping through them creates a sense of entering a space shielded from the outside world.

To encourage the cleansing of noise from the mind, the designer retained the studio's original white color. Creating the illusion of added space, she unified a pair of sofas and a daybed against one side of the room by upholstering them in white as well. For practical purposes, she ingeniously employs fabric that's usually used for sneakers. "They're super easy to clean. You just wipe with a rag and you're done!" exclaims the designer. She clad the pillows in the same semi-waterproof fabric she used to create the foyer.

For entertaining the occasional small group of friends, two square wooden tables are placed together to create a long table for dining. A long bench against the walls and chairs on the other create variety while still maintaining a Zen atmosphere. For a personalized touch of creativity, the designer transformed a set of capiz bowls and cups that she "couldn't stand" into centrepieces with a simple glue gun.

Touches of color are courtesy of paintings of fruits and vegetables hung above the couches. "At least that's what they look like to me!" she jokes. Further enhancing the vertical clearance of the studio, two standing lamps are placed on elevated surfaces, making their shades almost graze the ceiling. The lamps' coconut tree trunk design adds an organic element to the room as they flank the picture window.

An elongated oriental lamp in the middle of the room adds a touch of whimsy. "You've got have fun!" encourages the lady of the house. "You have to pick out things that make you happy."