Giving old structures a new lease on life is an inspiring sight, especially if the execution does the original justice. Casa Floria is a 1920s home that has been the subject of an award-winning adaptive reuse project by design firm Arc Lico. 

Arc Lico is a research-oriented design consultancy that specializes collaborative, heritage-led development and architectural education. They’re also the firm who restored the newly reopened Manila Metropolitan Theater and the Rizal Memorial Coliseum

Casa Floria won the best adaptive reuse project at the recently concluded International Architecture and Design Awards. The Rizal Memorial Coliseum revival, meanwhile, was named runner-up.

Casa Floria was built in 1924 by Floro Santos and Maria Feliciano as a family home. It was the first house built along Foch Street (currently P. Guevarra) in San Juan. The property was then passed down to one of their children, who passed it further down the line. 

Casa Floria’s exterior from 1925

“The property is a good example of a 20th century American colonial era bahay na bato at kahoy or stone and wood house, showing the salient morphological developments between Spanish colonial era houses and their American era counterparts,” according to the firm. 

Casa Floria before the restoration

The original brief of the project wasn’t just to restore and update the home, but also to transplant it from its original address to a new location. This project is a prime example of giving new life to ancestral spaces, while still maintaining its original spirit and aesthetic. 

Casa Floria’s sala area

The owner also requested additions like a new wing, including an art gallery, audio-visual room, gym, modern kitchen, home office, and a six-car garage. All these inclusions were made to the rear of the home in its new location, ensuring that the original configuration and most of the design were retained. 

The project took three years to complete and currently serves as the owner’s family home in its new address. 

With a reemerging passion for local art and culture, we’re hoping to see more adaptive reuse projects that give meaningful spaces a second chance at life. 

Casa Floria’s kitchen with modern amenities
The dining room at Casa Floria

You can learn more about Casa Floria here.

Fruit flies are probably the most benignly annoying insects to exist. Unlike mosquitoes or cockroaches, these bugs (mostly) aren’t harmful. They can carry bacteria and germs like other insects, but they’re not specifically linked to any illness that can cause humans harm. 

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Fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) are especially attracted to ripening fruits and vegetables. For people who love having fresh produce at home, the existence of these winged pests can be especially irritating. People who live in high-rise buildings and condos most likely suffer from infestations from time to time. And if you’re reading this right now, you’re probably suffering the same. 

There are a few tricks out there to get rid of fruit flies. My personal favorite (and the one I use whenever the need arises) is adding a drop of dish soap to a shallow dish filled with apple cider vinegar. Fruit flies are attracted to the scent of rotting fruit and the dish soap acts as a barrier to stop them from flying out of the liquid. The best way to use it is to put the mixture by the kitchen sink or wherever the fruit flies frequently gather and leave it alone overnight. It’s as easy as that. 

Some online recommendations say that you have to use a bowl and a cup of apple cider vinegar, but I found the shallow dish method to be more effective. Using a wide, shallow dish means there’s more surface area for the flies to land and get trapped in. 

This is the vinegar mixture looks like. I set it up next to my kitchen sink in case there are fruit flies coming from the pipes.

The only downside to using this method is the smell. Apple cider vinegar has a strong odor, to say the least, and leaving it exposed on your kitchen counter means you have to smell it every time you pass by. 

Getting rid of fully developed fruit flies is just a band-aid solution, though. The most important part of fully eliminating a fruit fly infestation is to get to the root of the problem. Like other insects, fruit flies like to lay tons of eggs. They usually lay their eggs on overripe fruits and vegetables, or in moist areas like drains, garbage cans, empty bottles and cans, and even pipes. 

Cleaning these areas thoroughly will save you from more irritation. Washing and storing your produce properly will also get rid of the problem from the root.

The “minor” millennial migration to quieter rural areas—specifically island towns—surged in the middle of the pandemic. We all know that one person who decided to leave city life behind for the peace of island living somewhere in the surf towns of Siargao and La Union. And who can blame them? For one, urban rents and the overall cost of living are skyrocketing.

Living a nomadic life so close to the sea and working remotely in one small cafe after the other sound like a dream. Plus, it is far cheaper paying for your own flat and comes with a self-congratulatory feeling of accomplishment having “helped” local tourism thrive. (Its subsequent gentrifying effect is another essay in itself. Not this one, obviously.)

[READ: Why Poblacion’s gentrification is problematic]

You don’t even have to own property—not that we ever could in this economy. There are plenty of transient living spaces that cater specifically to restless millennials who are willing to squeeze themselves into tiny quarters in exchange for a sunset view and beaches you can walk on every day.

[READ: Going to the beach is good for your health]

Still, there are dignified tiny spaces that don’t force you to give up your life of maximalism (just check this YouTube channel dedicated to them). And no, you don’t have to go to Japan—or god forbid, Hong Kong—to experience it.

A little (rentable) home in LU

In La Union at least, what you lack in floor square footage you can overcompensate with the fact that the beach is just a walk away. And in the case of Burt Little Home, a few functional features also can’t hurt.

minimalist Japanese inspired interiors
Burt Select Shop in La Union

The new concept is born from the same mantra that brought Burt Select Shop to life—“a home-style environment where we can connect to people on a deeper level” minus the literal clutter. So naturally, it is an extension of the minimalist multi-use space.

Burt Little Home is slated to open this August to travelers seeking slow-living shelter during the rainy season. Just like its sibling concept, the little home is brimming with natural wood finishes and natural light combined with the integration of tropical elements (there’s a tree growing inside!).

Digital render of Burt Little Home facace

The construction started sometime in May with a few tweaks on an already existing house, Burt’s Troy Ventura said. “The major ones [were] the skylight, shower, and the kitchen. I also [needed] to buy a water tank because the water supply here is unstable.” He also worked closely with a contractor to stay on budget amid rising construction supply costs, something they were also able to accomplish with Burt Select Shop but at a P100,000 cap.

A month or so later, however, they had to stop construction for three weeks after their original contractor left. But they picked up the pace and continued on with a new one this month in hopes of finishing by July’s end.

Tiny but intentional space

Located in Ili Norte, San Juan, La Union, every nook and cranny of the rental home is well-thought-of starting with the entrance. When you open the main door, you will be met by a dark enclosed entry space intentionally constructed to create a Zen temple-inspired boundary between the inside and the outside worlds. The transition from the dark enclosed space to the bright and airy living space creates a sense of release that Ventura likens to “a portal from the profane to the sacred space.”

The bungalow has one expandable bed and one bath. “My space is ideally extra comfortable for one to two [persons] so you can focus more on your individual energy while staying in my home,” said Ventura. 

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If you think sleeping on one double-size bed (with a Muji Bonnell coil mattress!) sounds cramped, well, read this first: “I prepared a double-sized futon to accommodate up to four persons in case you have kids or just a group of friends who wants to interdepend with each other for a period of time.” The Japanese-style futon can be folded and stored in the cabinet during the daytime to make more space.

Another interesting and space-saving detail is the use of finger holes to pull and slide cabinets. No more bumping into cabinet handles! Yay!

Ventura, who is vegan, also incorporated little details to encourage guests to live a low-impact lifestyle. These include a market bag they can use during trips to the palengke (a five-minute walk away) as well as a QR code on the wall next to the bag mount, which contains plant-based recipes. Yes, you can cook here too as it is equipped with basic cooking equipment like a stove and microwave oven.

Booking your minimalist vacation

Burt Little Home is currently in its finishing stage but you can already pre-book your stay with a 20 percent discount. A one-night stay for one to two people costs P4,650. The earliest booking date as of writing is Aug. 20.

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They are also giving away a three-days-and-two-nights stay for four people on Instagram right now. All you have to do is follow their accounts, like and share their post on your story, and tag someone who you think needs to live their days a bit slower. The contest runs until Aug. 6.

Check this link to see its amenities and inclusions.

Living should be a holistic experience. This is especially important when it comes to curating your own space. Aside from aesthetics, the full experience of living in your own space is just as important. You should be able to enjoy your space to the fullest.

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to decorating, but the goal should be creating a space that brings you the most joy and comfort. 

Here’s how you can incorporate the elements of your senses to make your dream space. 

Sight

Everyone’s visual and aesthetic preferences are different, but it’s universally agreed upon to tap into what you like to see. Creating a visual palette of the colors you like can help you decide on what type of furniture or decorative elements you should include. 

Photo by stefano manzini on Unsplash

Light is also another important consideration in making your space as comfortable as can be. If possible, skip out on the harsh office lighting and go for warmer tones (around 2,700 to 3,000 watts for dim light and 3,000 to 4,000 watts for warm white light). Adding accent light fixtures like lamps are also another easy way to create ambiance. 

Photo by Francesca Tosolini on Unsplash

There are tons of inexpensive light fixtures with dimmable settings that can add a cozy dimension to your space. Smart bulbs have also gotten a lot cheaper online, which means you have the ability to change the color of your light fixtures to fit your mood. 

[READ: No sun, no problem: These plants can thrive in low light conditions]

Finally, adding a plant adds freshness to your space. Greenery can be calming and help freshen the indoor air. If you don’t have a green thumb though, no problem. You can always go for dried plants instead of the real deal. Dried eucalyptus is a good option because it’s still green and doesn’t require much maintenance. 

Smell

Scent is probably the most underrated way you can level up your space. Aside from scented candles and aroma diffusers, room sprays are a great way to distribute scent. 

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Switching up scents can also help you throughout the day. Going for a refreshing scent like lemon and eucalyptus in the morning can wake you up and get your day going. At night, you can opt for a warmer and cozier scent like fresh linen or amber to help you fall asleep. 

Going for natural cleaning supplies can also help you avoid harsh chemical smells that tend to linger in places like kitchens and bathrooms. Adding deodorizers to your closet, shoe rack, and storage spaces can also help you avoid the musty smell that comes with time. 

Photo by okeykat on Unsplash

You can also DIY your own room scent by boiling some leftover citrus peels with vanilla and some cinnamon. 

Sound

Depending on where you live, sound can make or break your space’s peace. Living in the city is plain noisy. The sound of traffic, construction, neighbors, and maybe even karaoke can seep through your door and disturb you. Adding a foam seal to the frames of your doors and windows can help dampen the sound coming from the outside. 

If you like white noise, playing some storm or drizzle sounds from your phone or laptop can also help drown out unwanted sound. 

If all else fails, just blast your favorite playlist and try to ignore the rest of the world. 

Touch 

Texture actually plays a big role in how your space comes together. It goes without saying, comfortable bedding is a must. Whether you like your pillows big and fluffy, flat, or dense and structured, you have to cater to your personal preference. 

Different thread count sheets also make a difference. The rule of thumb is that the higher the thread count, the softer it can feel. Good sheets can often range between the 300 to 500 thread count, but again, it’s all a matter of preference. 

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Other textural choices you can make are tapestries, carpets, rugs, and decorative pillows. Carpets and rugs can feel nice to walk on, and they also help distinguish areas from one another. Decorative pillows can honestly be unnecessary, but it can come in handy when you have guests over. You can also freely cuddle them without worrying about it getting dirty and sleeping on it later. 

While all of these things are admittedly high maintenance and possibly expensive, they’re still options you can splurge on if your budget allows. 

Taste

While you can’t taste a specific area or room, you can definitely still incorporate your sense of taste in making a space that you’ll love. How? By adding snacks, of course. Stocking up on your favorite snacks and drinks for easy access adds to the whole enjoyment experience. 

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If you’re into coffee, you can also make a coffee area with all your equipment. If you frequently have guests over, you can store small candies or snacks in jars or containers that they can easily access. If you’re a snacker, having a designated snack area in the spaces you’re usually in (like the living room or your office space) can make it an even bigger delight to be there. 

Honestly? The possibilities are endless.

Having your own place is a luxury most can’t afford. But for those who can, it’s an exciting and nerve-wracking adventure. Living independently can be a liberating experience, but also challenging when it comes to taking care of yourself and your space.

Aside from the basic furniture and appliances, there are some items that people tend to forget when moving into their own place. Whether you’re going solo or if you’ve moved in with roommates, here are some items people tend to forget. 

Can and bottle opener

Photo by Marcelo Leal on Unsplash

Cracking open a bottle of wine or beer is the best way to celebrate moving into your own place—but that experience can be sufficiently dampened if you forgot to pack a can and bottle opener. 

According to personal experience and my friends who’ve gotten their own places, this is a shared phenomenon. Make sure you pack your can and bottle opener along with your beers or wine so you won’t forget it. If it’s too late, and the wine is still corked, this shoe hack works, too. Just make sure your neighbors aren’t home. 

Cleaning materials 

Eco friendly cleaning products header nolisoliph
Photo by Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash

Brooms and mops aside, there are so many other cleaning materials that you need to keep your space clean. For your kitchen, you’ll need an all-purpose surface cleaner, drain declogger, a dish rag, a multi-purpose basahan, and some gloves. For your bathroom, you’ll want to stock up on toilet cleaner, detergents, scrubbing brushes, and bleach.

First aid kit

One of the worst things that could happen to you if you live alone is get hurt, followed by getting sick. While it’s best to avoid both those things by taking care of yourself and your health, accidents and emergencies still happen. And preparing for the worst is the least you can do for yourself. 

Photo by Julia Zyablova on Unsplash

You can buy ready-to-use first aid kits at drugstores and some supermarkets, but you can also DIY it for cheaper. Some common items you should always have are antiseptic ointment, bandaids, gauze, bandages, alcohol wipes, a thermometer, common medications (like paracetamol, ibuprofen, antacids, and antihistamines), and medical tape. 

Rechargeable emergency light

Again, we never hope for emergencies to happen, but it’s best to be prepared. Typhoons and other natural disasters can cause a lot of damage and disrupt water and electricity. Having a rechargeable emergency light is an essential item that can help you in worst case scenarios. 

Tools

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Having a leaky faucet, loose nail, or squeaky hinges are all minor inconveniences you can fix with a tool kit. It doesn’t have to be that fancy, but having a tool box with the necessary tools can save you lots of money. There are some screw and wrench sets that come with different types of heads, which is more bang for your buck.

Reusable containers

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If you like to cook your own meals, reusable containers are a godsend. More often than not, we end up cooking more than we can eat. It’s important to keep a set of reusable containers to store your leftovers in. And even if you don’t cook, you can use it to organize and store produce and other grocery items. 

Your containers don’t have to be brand new. You can reuse old takeout containers to cut down on waste, but just make sure it’s still food safe.

Food clips

Having a set of food clips on hand can save you from spending extra on ziplock bags. You can seal up bagged food items like chips and cereals to keep them safe to eat and preserve their crunch. Best of all, it’s easy to open and you can reuse them for other items.

Everyone’s cleaning routines are different. Some people have a daily schedule of areas to tidy, while others have a one time big time approach and clean everything, everywhere, all at once. Whatever the approach may be, there are definitely some areas in your home you missed. 

Areas like bathrooms, kitchens, and bedrooms get special attention because it’s where we spend most of our time. But even then, there are probably some things you’ve missed out on during your routine cleaning. 

Cleaning these areas are especially important if you have frequent and unexplained allergies, asthma, or eczema. Being allergic to dust could be a culprit, which means a more thorough home cleaning is in order. 

Here are a few spaces and items you need to add to your cleaning routine. 

Items and appliances

Washing machine

Photo by PlanetCare on Unsplash

Like all other appliances, washing machines need periodic cleaning and maintenance. You should clean out the lint filter after every use, and give your washing machine a thorough clean monthly. If you’re not confident in your skills, there are technicians that can clean it for you. 

Remotes

TV, gadget, and air conditioning remotes are other often touched areas that need a thorough clean. Aside from germs and dust, the natural oils from our fingertips can damage the buttons over time. Wiping it down with some alcohol every other day should do the trick. 

Handles and light switches

In general, handles are commonly used areas. Be it a door, fridge, or appliance handle, there’s a high concentration of contact. This can also mean that handles are especially susceptible to bacteria. Handles should be cleaned as often as possible to prevent the spread of germs. Same goes for light switches.

Knife and utensil holders

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Cleaning our utensils is a no-brainer, but what about where we store them? Drying racks, utensil compartments, and knife holders can accumulate dirt and grime over time. Washing them with soap and water can keep them clean so you don’t have to worry about them contaminating your utensils. 

Knife holders, especially the block types with slots, need extra care. Slotting in wet or moist knives can encourage bacterial growth. It’s best to soak knife holders in some soapy water and scrub the inside of each slot with a wire brush or a pipe cleaner. 

Rugs and carpets

Sadly, vacuuming rugs and carpets aren’t enough. If you have pets and kids, you’ll need to deep clean them at least once a year. Pet dander, dirt, crumbs, and hair can live in your carpets and become a breeding ground for allergens and bacteria. There are professional rug cleaning services that can shampoo and dry rugs and carpets, especially if they’re delicate. 

Decor 

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Figurines, collectibles, paintings, and assorted decor is nice to look at, but also requires a good dusting every so often. If you keep your decor in a display cabinet, wiping it down from time to time is a good idea. Bigger decorative pieces that are out in the open such as vases, paintings, and other assorted knick knacks should be dusted as often as weekly because they’re more exposed. 

Light fixtures

Large accent fixtures like chandeliers and lamps can collect a lot of dust over time. Overhead lighting can become neglected because it’s a hassle to get that high. Going over delicate glass or crystal light fixtures with a feather duster should be part of your weekly routine. If there’s a special occasion on the horizon though, you’ll want to break out the crystal cleaner to make sure the fixture really shines. 

Areas

Under big appliances

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The out of sight, out of mind principle is at work here. You don’t see the mess, so you don’t see the need to clean it up. Microwaves, ovens, refrigerators, and stoves can collect a lot of dust and dirt if there’s some space underneath. 

Aside from underneath these big appliances, you’ll also want to check the space next to it. With stand alone stoves, there can be a gap next to it where dust, dirt, old ingredients, and grease can build up. 

Walls

Often seen and touched but seldom cleaned, walls need a thorough scrub, too. Natural oils from finger tips, smoke residue, and dust can accumulate on its surface. The approach to cleaning is different depending on the type of paint and material the wall is made of. Using natural, all-purpose cleaners can work for most types of walls, but make sure to spot test it in a discreet area before going all in. 

Molding and baseboards

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Depending on your taste, molding can be a great addition to any home. It is a pain to clean though. The groves and corners of molding can easily store dust and dirt. The same goes with baseboards. A thorough vacuuming weekly and a scrub down from time to time can keep the dust away and make sure it keeps looking great. 

Recessed areas

Alcoves and recessed lighting have been a trend for a while now. While it does look nice, it also requires a lot of cleaning and maintenance. Dust and insects can settle in recessed areas of the home, so taking the time to vacuum it is a necessary chore. 

“The lifespan of a fresh cut flower is approximately 15 days.” This ephemerality inspired Sara Rosa Oppermann and Alice Soro Cilliara of Danish design company Reevein Studios to rethink blooms as keepsakes that will never wilt.

[READ: These flowers won’t die after just a week]

Reevein Studios’ latest release looks a lot like anthuriums, the waxy flower prized for its heart shape that is often associated with warmness, hospitality, and long-lasting relationships. Except when you look closely, these red and black blooms are not shaped like hearts; they are more like squares with hyperrealistic veining. 

Photo courtesy of Reevein Studios

This is because they are not, in fact, natural flowers. They are made from recycled scraps—branches, cotton threads, tapioca flour, and recycled plastic bottles to be exact.

In an interview with Wallpaper magazine, Oppermann and Cilliara said, “Our designs are a bit rougher and not super romantic. We have a bit more of a biological approach and get very inspired by the anatomy of flowers, and the anatomy of humans, and the many striking similarities that exist between them.” The two liken the veins of their creation to human blood veins. 

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What initially drew the two into creating these faux flowers is the short-lived yet high waste-generating nature of fresh flowers. Flowers, for the most part, are part of human rituals, from weddings to funerals. But before they reach altars, tables, and foyers of private homes, these precious cargoes—in the United States, at least—travel between 1,500 to over 4,000 miles in refrigerated planes, boats, and trucks. “A significant environmental footprint for a product whose beauty lasts only a few weeks,” reads a report from climate and culture publication Atmos.

In 2020, when the world ceased to celebrate, the flower industry took a hit. A report by the New York Times reads, “[M]any flower farms’ crops were discarded. Since no one knew what was going to happen, new crops were not planted as usual.” Not to mention, its production and supply chain are among the most impacted by the drastic changes in global temperature.

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Many individuals are finding creative ways to repurpose “used” floral arrangements: There’s a service for secondhand flowers, efforts to redirect post-event blooms to hospitals, homeless shelters, and temples; and locally, florists with a penchant for found dried plants. However, the duo behind Reevein wanted to focus on sustainable design in the first place. Each flower part of its Geometric Series is made of 70 percent recycled materials. New designs will be introduced every third of the month.

For its first campaign, Reevein teamed up with Laguna-based photography duo Cenon at Mav to create a mise-en-place of its faux flowers set against the romantic backdrop of soft silks. 

Each handmade floral “sculpture” retails for DKK 350-450 (approximately P2,600-P3,500) depending on the size and is available to order through their website.

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