This Remodeled 409-Square-Foot Manila Apartment Feels Larger

published Jun 1, 2023

This Remodeled 409-Square-Foot Manila Apartment Feels Larger

published Jun 1, 2023
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“Maximize. Personalize. Make it cozy. Waiting for my condo to be turned over for the last five years or so, I set my mind on achieving these three goals,” explains Kenneth Llave of this 409-square-foot apartment he’s owned in Manila for nine months.

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“I decided to invest in my first home back in 2017. It was (and still to this day is) the biggest investment I’ve made, and because I’ll be pouring quite a lot into this apartment, I had to be clever with maximizing the available resources to me. Other than stretching every peso for the build and furniture pieces, I also wanted to make the space work for me as best as it could. The floor plan of this 38-square-meter/409-square-foot one-bedroom unit was kept intact, save for its biggest change: modifying the partition wall that separated the bedroom from the living room. Because I only had two windows on one side, I wanted to maximize the available natural light and also achieve a larger sense of space by having the two main rooms ‘merge,’ when needed. The ‘window wall’ allowed for light to pass, but also gave me the flexibility to adapt the rooms’ mood and function, depending on the situation. By altering the use of lighting and shades, and using the (unexpected) reflections the glass brings at different times of the day, you are spoilt for choice,” Kenneth writes.

“Inasmuch as I wanted to take on a fixer-upper apartment, that may have had more character from the get-go, I had to be realistic with what I could achieve. As a single man with a consuming day job, and someone who’s quite hands-on with the build — I knew that a fresh built development would be the best fit for me. Expecting a cookie-cutter unit to be turned over, I had to take advantage of what the apartment’s bones could bring and embrace these,” Kenneth continues.

“Throughout the unit, I was also quite intentional with the storage solutions and furniture pieces used. I tried to make things blend well to achieve a cohesive look that I wanted, while making sure they provided multiple functions. After living here the last eight to nine months, I’m quite fulfilled with what was achieved. Given certain limitations, I’ve always been driven to solve gaps and maximize the available resources, as oftentimes we end up having to make the most of what we have. Although some details aren’t as perfect (like the build quality of the handmade cabinets and such), I still embrace these quirks as marks of personality and points of improvement down the line.”



  • All walls (except the bathroom) — Boysen’s “Cottage White”


  • Eames hang it all — CWC Interiors
  • Bastua tray — IKEA
  • Nymane floor lamp — IKEA
  • Custom embroidered bird art piece — Alima Embroidery
  • Custom arch mirror — Facebook Marketplace
  • Ladenbau Schrade acrylic stool — Maison Cura
  • Prato umbrella standMaison Cura but also same as this on Amazon


  • Johanson Design Studio chairs — Mid Century Manila
  • Tulip dining table — Facebook Marketplace


  • Rug — IKEA
  • Bastua pillows — IKEA
  • Hanging shelves & arms — IKEA
  • Pillow covers — H&M
  • Vitra Eames elephant — CWC Interiors
  • Hudson drink table — West Elm
  • Setago lamp — &Tradition
  • HAY Sonos One speaker pair — Sonos
  • Sofa — Vintage, been in the family since the 60s and just reupholstered 
  • Tendo Mokko side/coffee table — Mid Century Manila
  • Nelson Ball wall sconce replica – Studio Yakal
  • Eames LCW — Studio Yakal

Thanks, Kenneth!

This tour’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.
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