At the end of a busy workday, the homeowner dreamt of going home to a house that would cease—and not increase—her stress. “Now that I’m a working mom, I wanted to have a relaxing home environment,” she wrote in her letter to Real Living.

But in reality, she had a hard time pulling off the ambiance she wanted because of a limited budget and her lack of design know-how. On top of that, a portion of her and her husband’s hard-earned cash for renovation last year went to a devious contractor who shortchanged them, leaving their abode in a sorry state: stairs bereft of handrails and balusters, unsightly beams and electrical pipes, to name a few flaws.

After the couple’s unfortunate experience with their former contractor coms a blessing in the form of interior designer Hannah Acab-Faustino and Jorge Faustino, her husband and contractor. This time, the homeowners didn’t have to worry about getting shortchanged—they didn’t even have to shell out a single centavo for this makeover—and they were confident of the outcome, even though they barely peeked at their living and dining rooms as these underwent renovation (they stayed at a relative’s house nearby).

Click “next” to see how the whole makeover turned out.

Get more fabulous home makeover ideas in the May 2013 issue of Real Living Philippines, out on stands now! You can also subscribe to the magazine's digital edition.

Also in this issue:
How to do the HIGH-LOW mix
SPLURGE, SAVE, & everything in between.

(First published as "R & R at Home" in the "Real Makeover" section of Real Living Philippines' August 2010 issue. Words and production by Kathleen Valle. Pictorial direction by Coni Tejada. Photography by Jun Pinzon. Adapted for use in Female Network.)

One of the homeowner's concerns was the lack of division between the living and dining/kitchen areas. Instead of adding an actual partition or a bulky panel, Hannah solved the problem by creating a light lattice divider--also in distressed finish--to segregate the spaces.

The homeowners' staircase was a cause of major alarm for Hannah because of its lack of handrails and balusters "...which made it very dangerous to their one-year-old-son," she says. The designer didn't only make the staircase functional, but also good-looking with its distressed finish, which ties in with the overall look of the house.

The dining area, formerly bare and all-too-plain, was turned into a cozy, dreamy corner with pictureque wall prints, just-right droplight, and a console tabletop accessories.

Hannah created a fantastic shelving unit and seating nook out of an off-key space that was once filled with the homeowners' son's toys. As a mother of two tots, she knew the importance of making furniture as kid-friendly as possible. "I made the drawers low so [their son] can open them himself as he stores his toys." Meanwhile, the new window ledge seat was created to augment the insufficient seating space in the living room.

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