The Condo Makeover: Phase 1

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A very quick illustration by yours truly.

Written in my provincial home:

White floor, white walls, white ceiling. I realize tonight how much I hate my condo unit in Manila. I dislike the emotions I’ve come to associate with it, even more the tiny issues that thin me out— that I have to use an elevator to get to my room, that it is surrounded by so many tall buildings in so little space, and that when I am in it, my life feels like a mess. Even now as I type this, a literal clutter awaits me in that office. Yes, it does feel like one. With all of my hobbyist items stowed into corners— into cabinet drawers where they will indubitably collect dust— it is nothing more than a room that will hold me throughout my college stay. It has not the eccentric little pieces that make my (actual) home so endearing—no acorns from the States, nor a wooden toad sculpture from Thailand. Neither does it have our figurines from India or cassette players from two decades ago. No, the room demands my sweat and blood: dream about vacations later, and focus on school requirements today. It is square, tight, and always busy. Throughout the semester, it gathers piles upon piles of paper clutter. It collects a few tears from me, as well.

Time and time again, my condo unit has witnessed me work non-stop for twelve straight hours—possibly more- and lose sleep over the next ‘big thing.’ I hate that place and its unhealthiness. I don’t know how my mind managed to suppress this realization for so long.

Still, I will have to return to the city in the next few hours. After writing this, I’ll have to bid goodbye to my provincial home, as I always do at the end of every extended break. Manila awaits. I only hope it’s better than how I remember.


Written in my condominium:

Upon reaching my condo, my suspicions were proven true. It really was cold and uninviting. Drat! Physically, I know it’s far better than the tiny units some of my friends own, but the unease I experience is something deeply personal. Perhaps I associated the place with all of the terrible things that’d happened to me in the previous semesters (which— there were a lot of them). On my first night, I felt quite lonely. Heavy thoughts came flooding back into my system.

I did not want to start my semester this way, so I went ‘home shopping’ the next day. I’ve never done anything like this before, but it was definitely a step in the right direction. The first problem I had to solve was the lighting of the main room. No furniture was going to work if the mood of the room wasn’t right.

My dad told me I wasn’t allowed to configure any of the electrical systems because it would be difficult and not worth the struggle. With this, I looked for lamps or light bulbs that could be plugged directly into outlets.

Here’s a list of the things on my buying list:

  1. 3 Light bulbs / Lamps
  2. 1 container for my plates
  3. Scented candles
  4. Bedroom slippers
  5. Coffee table
  6. Rug
  7. Drawer / cabinet
  8. Throw pillows

Since I was looking for cheap items, I didn’t buy anything unless I was sure it was the best thing I could get for its price. In the end, I only bought about half of the items on the list (bold). That’s good enough for Phase 1, though. One thing I did get that wasn’t on this list was an extension tower. It has proven to be exceptionally convenient!

I love everything I bought and will be going ‘home shopping’ again sometime soon. It’s crazy how such a subtle shift in lighting can change the ambiance of an entire place. It wasn’t that expensive, either! Each bulb cost about P120, and the wire for it, around the same price. The candles were a bit pricier (from P200-P500), but these were things I was willing to invest in.

I’ll admit that the new lighting is a bit too dim and moody (and my brother remarked that it looked like a cult), but the room already feels far cozier than before. For a cheap fix, I am absolutely pleased with the outcome. I’ll be ‘dimming the lights’ when I feel like resting and listening to classy music, preferably with a glass of wine and a sparkly red dress. (Probably kidding about the wine part, though.)

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The condo living room, with all of the things I bought that day
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Phase 1 objective: warmer lighting. It looks more yellow in real life, I swear!
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I put some lights behind the TV, as well.
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Scented candles, completing the look. The room is brighter than this IRL.
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My favorite buy of the day: this basket for keeping all of my architectural items. They used to ‘spill out’ and crowd in that blue bucket.

And that’s it for now! With this condo makeover project, I’m not really trying to create space that is picture perfect; I’m simply doing the best I can to make my university life-with all its stress and struggle-more bearable. For the next phase of this project, I’ll be on the lookout for rugs, a coffee table, and objects that can make the area neater. See you then!

-B

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