Saturday, July 23, 2011

Dream homes by design

“Dream homes by design”
Sun.Star Davao, July 23, 2011

Having being born and raised in Manila, interior designer Jennifer Tiu-Tan faced the challenge of establishing herself again in the city after she got married to a Dabawenyo eleven years ago.

Starting her own business and career in an entirely new place at first seemed to be daunting. However, being one of the few practicing interior designers in the city, the big move to Davao in the long run turned out to be fulfilling and more than what she had ever expected.

After receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Interior Design from the University of Santo Tomas, Jennifer practiced as a freelance designer of all sorts.

"Aside from the usual home and offices, I also designed fashion jewelry for an exporter and stuffed animals for a toy company. I realized I needed more work experience in order to establish my craft. That led me in joining an interior design firm headed by Ms. Grace Reyes- Serapio. The training and exposure I received there for five years proved to be very helpful in my work today”, she reveals.

Maximizing function and style

Jennifer shares that there is a notion that hiring an interior designer can be expensive when, in fact, doing so can “save one plenty of money, not to mention a lot of headaches and precious time, by preventing costly mistakes”.

The busy mom of two explains that interior designers provide access to the best material sources and their technical knowledge may be used to enhance one’s personal style.
“In short, a good designer can help achieve a more stunning and functional space even on a budget”, Jennifer declares.

She emphasizes that “a well studied interior design can maximize the potential of a space. Interior design is not merely color scheme and matching furniture. It considers a lot of aspects such as the client’s needs, likes and dislikes, combining tastes, practicality, limitations, etc. A beautiful and comfortable home can definitely create a positive atmosphere”.

Clutter-free family home

For Jennifer, “an ideal family home should be well situated, has ample space for a growing family’s needs, good space planning and above all, clutter-free”.

Jennifer suggests that the easiest way to maximize one’s storage space is to sort the family’s possessions once or twice a year. “This way, you will be able to know if you’re clinging on to something you don't really need anymore”, she adds.

Eye level space can be used to store things you use everyday. Overhead, under or dead spaces inside your cabinets can store seasonal or items you are not ready to let go.

In addition, Jennifer suggests that we choose functional containers over aesthetic ones. Examples are clear plastic bins for toys you can label and stack vertically. Vacuum storage bags for bulky blankets and comforters are also readily available.

Illusion of space

To create an illusion of bigger space in small homes, Jennifer gives several pointers:

Use neutral or light paint colors throughout the space. You may also use the same color for walls and ceiling which produces an illusion of height. The more colors you introduce in a small space, the more it cuts the space visually.

Use of mirrors in walls, closet doors, etc. reflects light and doubles your visual space.
Maximize cabinet height up to the ceiling. You do not only gain more storage space but this will draw your eye vertically too.

Use multipurpose pieces of standard-sized furniture. Sofa beds, Murphy beds and coffee tables that double as dining tables as well as ottomans with storage are some examples.

Lastly, the more natural light that enters the space, the more illuminated it would look.

Top five tips to a better-looking home

Do you want to improve the look of your home but don’t have the time and a substantial budget? Moms can also do their own home improvement projects by just adding these five simple things as pointed out by Jennifer:

Fresh coat of paint--Just highlighting a wall with an accent color can make a huge difference.

Wallpaper--Jennifer reveals that wallpapers can add interest to a space by giving texture and patterns.

Lighting fixture--Table lamps and floor lamps can create cozy corners in a rather dull space.

Accessories—Adding inexpensive vases, throw pillows or decorative artworks can greatly enhance a room’s impact.

Curtains – New window treatments can dramatically change the look of a space.

The S.O.F.A.more

When Jennifer was starting out with her interior design practice in the city, she and her business partner noticed that there was a “dearth of high quality, one of a kind decorative materials as well as absence of a good range of choices for furniture and home accessories in Davao”.

"I would often find myself frustrated when I couldn’t find a piece I wanted for a particular project”, Jennifer recounts.

This gave Jennifer and her partner the idea of setting up The S.O.F.A.more, an acronym for the The Shop of Furniture and More. Their design mission is to provide clients with “everything they need to furnish and beautify their homes under one roof”.

“In Sofamore, we have items for modern, contemporary, classic, country and Asian interiors. If you require furniture which is not available off the floor, we can custom make it for you”, Jennifer discloses.

The shops offers top of the line sofa sets, dining sets, screen divider, center tables, accent chairs, chandeliers, display cases, home accessories, lamps and many more. It is also a distributor of imported curtain, upholstery material and Keystone lamps.

Dream homes by design

Most of Sofamore’s items are proudly made in the Philippines and are of export quality. “We source them from as far as La Union and Pampanga in Luzon; Cebu and Negros in Visayas; and of course, Davao in Mindanao. You won’t find these items in the ubiquitous stores in the malls”, she guarantees.

The Sofamore’s unique home accessories and furniture can be functional conversation pieces. “Believe it or not, clients come to the shop to de-stress by savoring with their eyes each and every item we have on display!”, Jennifer says amusingly.

One of The Sofamore’s most valued customers is a European gentleman who regularly visits the shop to see new items on display. “He has built an entire wall of shelves behind the bar in his house, each shelf with an item in it, mostly from our shop”, Jennifer exclaims.

“See this artwork of fishes? My best friend and I have gone sailing around the world when we were much younger”, the European client fondly reminisces with a twinkle in his eyes.
“See this handcarved wooden fisherman?”, he asks. “He’s me with his white beard. See this beautiful woman? She reminds me of the ones we saw in our travels”, he continues.

“That special wall bearing his most prized art and décor collection tells the story of his life and dreams”, Jennifer smiles.

And, for a dedicated interior designer such as Jennifer, nothing gives her more satisfaction and happiness than being able to make her clients’ dream homes and designs come true.

The S.O.F.A.more is located at the 2nd and 3rd floors of Mitaji Bldg., Tionko cor. Mapa Sts., Davao City. Telefax : (082) 2250484. Open Monday to Saturday from 9 am to 6 pm.

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