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Living In A Shrinking World

AS CITIES get bigger and their buildings grow taller, the ironic effect is that it forces us to squeeze our lives inward, taking up smaller spaces. A new property by Rockwell Primaries, The Vantage at Kapitolyo, opened a pop-up model unit at the Powerplant Mall, showing shoppers what it’s like to fit a whole life into 29 sq.m.

For that purpose, Cyndi Beltran, Interior Designer and Managing Partner of Moss Manila Home, a lifestyle boutique was invited to walk and talk through the model unit, to show guests at a March 4 launch how to save space.

“One of the first questions that I usually get is the colors, right? A lot of people think that using whites and beiges and lighter tones automatically make your space lighter. But for my case, I usually recommend having about a couple of walls on a darker tone, say either a dark gray, or... a taupe,” said Ms. Beltran. According to her, this direction lends depth and dimension to a space, “Rather than having everything fall flat with white.” 

“It’s nice to have interest... a little bit of contrast in some of the spaces,” she said.

“Storage is the number one problem of a lot of my clients,” she said. “Storage doesn’t necessarily equate to cabinets... too much of that makes your space look too chunky... and tight.” Instead, she recommends creativity, such as using bins and baskets -- and even jars. “It can be a part of your design element when you do your vignettes for the shelves.”

“Mirrors [are] a no-fail trick,” said Ms. Beltran with some enthusiasm. “It’s an old trick, but it really does the magic.” If you’ve ever observed two mirrors set up face to face, the reflections seem to be never-ending, like a puzzle from Escher. “It creates... infinity. Especially when you do wall-to-wall, it really makes your space very, very big, and light.” She recommends giving the old trick a new twist, however, saying, “To just deviate a little bit from this old trick, you might want to use other reflective surfaces as well. You can go tinted... your mirror can be bevelled... and you can go creative with mirrors.”

“I... recommend forgoing cocktail tables,” said Ms. Beltran, discussing using furniture that serves more than one purpose in order to save space. “In a tight space, your center tables can be ottomans. You put a tray on top of your ottoman, and... you can have books there, and things like that,” she said. 

“An ottoman, when we have more guests, can already serve as additional seating space,” she added. Other solutions include rejecting box-type beds for beds with open legs, so the space under the bed could be used as a storage space.

“Decluttering is a discipline,” said Ms. Beltran. Creative decluttering is becoming a trend now, as observed in the meteoric popularity of Marie Kondo, a Japanese “organizing consultant” whose books about decluttering have spread the word about the joys of less stuff. “It’s a way of life,” said Ms. Beltran. “You know... if you keep on accumulating things but never letting go of other things... there’s not enough space in the world for you.” -- JLG