30 December 2017

Before & After: Hallway and Staircase




In fixing up this house, I've noticed that we've been trying to recreate parts of our apartment in Singapore. For example, the picture frames in the hallway - they're positioned the same way as when they were hanging in our Residences @ Somme bedroom.

As to the gallery wall by the staircase, this was the first thing I thought of doing when we bought the house. Putting it up was harder than I thought, but I think everything worked out in the end.

25 December 2017

Christmas 2017

Merry Christmas everyone!

This year, our theme is minimalist - mostly because I was so busy fixing up the house, I forgot to buy holiday decor. By the time I got around to shopping for a tree, I was informed that the type I was looking for had been sold out by September. My idea was to place a pencil slim tree beside the foyer table to save on space (not to mention that it's the only logical location in our house for a Christmas tree).

As to the other decor items, most of what I was interested in, were either sold out or the last piece. My problem with the last piece is that it's not in a box and has probably been on display for weeks (meaning dusty). So, of course, I didn't want that.

Given the situation, I told my husband that we'll decorate next year instead. He was disappointed. Considering this is our first Christmas in the house, I could understand his sentiments. Fortunately, a trip to National Bookstore turned out to be lucky and they still had decor items stored in boxes in the stockroom. That's where the wreath and the tabletop Christmas tree came from.

The snowman stocking was sourced from SM and the red and gold balls were the ones we had on our old tree.

20 December 2017

Supplier Ratings: Upcycle Manila

Supplier: Upcycle Manila
Price Tag: Php 9,000
Rating: Php 9/10 (10 being the highest)

Another furniture piece I'm in love with! Even the underside of the table is smooth - many furniture makers don't give the hidden areas much thought. They're probably thinking that if no one can see it, why bother? Not the case here and I didn't even have to tell them about it. I usually instruct my suppliers to ensure that all sides are smooth and even then, there's no guarantee that they'll follow.

They also promised to deliver in 2 weeks (including weekends) and they kept their word.

Can't really think of any, unless you count the time they forgot to do the order form. They already started on the furniture before I actually signed anything.

On hindsight though, I should have gone with my original measurements and made the length and width 10 centimeters longer. The table looks smaller than what I had imagined it to be (despite measuring many times).

15 December 2017

Window Shopping: Accent Table

We need an end table to go between the blue sofa and the pale yellow armchair. But I want something with metal that way, it will add a bit of interest in that not everything is made of wood.

So, I started asking around - Mandaue Foam can do custom-made furniture, but not the ones with metal and it will take three months as their factory is in Cebu. Our most recent furniture supplier, Woods Innovation Center, doesn't do metal either. Other suppliers I asked were busy so I just ended up with two quotations.

Initially, I was considering 80 x 90 x 65(h) cm, but thought that the table might be too large for the space.

Dimensions: 70 x 80 x 65(h) cm

Biara Furniture
Rate: Php 19,200
Delivery Fee: Php 3000

Upcycle Manila
Rate: Php 8,000
Delivery Fee: Php 1,000

There's not much to think about here, Upcycle Manila wins hands down.

10 December 2017

Before & After: The Study




By the way, that the fabric of the armchair color coordinates with the picture frames was not on purpose. I forgot that the prints were yellow and black, and had I remembered, I would have chosen something else.

20 November 2017

Slow Progress

We're still working on the house, but things are not moving as fast as I would like due to the other items on my plate.

The last pieces of furniture are coming soon and half the picture frames have been hung. I also have guests arriving in less than two weeks so time to start cracking!

10 November 2017

Leaky Bathroom

See the light brown water marks on the ceiling? This is right below the upstairs bathroom. Yup, it's leaking probably due to the holes in the floor grout.

Fortunately, I called Maricel of Rabacon (contractor who installed everything in said bathroom), and she sent a couple of workers over to seal the gaps. Though, I was also thinking that maybe the holes are due to the bathroom tiles or the toilet not being installed properly? This assumption is based on the backyard roof which also had leaks while a similar, but older, roof made by Avida over the front door never had a problem. And speaking of front doors, the red front door they installed warped and cracked after a couple of years.

So, I was a little wary of calling them to fix things since they didn't do a good job to begin with. But Maricel mentioned that I should have called her to repair the roof and the door which they would have done for free. Considering all of our expenses thus far, I was thinking, maybe it’s worth a shot.

Also, the previous village manager, Engr. Froilan, once mentioned that things inside a house will start cracking due to the heat especially if the house is closed and hot air has nowhere to escape. So that might be another possible explanation, though not even the workers who came over know for sure. Well, let’s see if this will work.

05 November 2017

Supplier Ratings: CADI Showrooms

Linden Writing Desk - Php 14,500
Mariela Wing Chair - Php 16,500 (fabric not included)

Supplier: CADI Showrooms
Price Tag: Php 68,800
Rating: Php 8/10 (10 being the highest)

I love the furniture!!! As far as I can tell, all the pieces look sturdy and really well made.

L - Unno Chair #1 - Php 5,100 each (without cushion seat)
R - Petite Wing Chair - Php 14,900 (fabric not included)

They can only do what's in their catalogue - custom made items are only for bulk orders (think hotels, restaurants, etc.), and having changes made to their design proved to be problematic.

For example, their dining chair (Unno Chair #1) originally had an upholstered seat, and when we asked to switch to solid wood instead, the sales agent in their SM Megamall branch said it wasn't a problem. After paying in full (which is a requirement prior to delivery), I was informed that changing the chair design would cost us more. They also told us that the seat height was lower than normal as the workers received the wrong instructions. Take note at this point, two months had already passed since they informed us that all the items were ready to be delivered. We had asked them to postpone the delivery as the renovation took longer than anticipated.

As you can probably guess, I wasn't a very happy camper. I pointed out that it was unfair of them to change the price right before delivery. Why should we be paying for the mistakes made by the company? In the end, they conceded my point and kept things as is. The delivery though was further delayed as they had to redo the chair height.

Oh, and their delivery fee is rather steep. If they deliver to Alabang, the fee is Php 400. Our house is just an additional 20 minutes away and they're charging Php 3000 because it's located in Cavite, though I was able to negotiate it down to Php 2500.

25 October 2017

The Cusm Furniture Shop Nightmare: Part III

Cusm: We have tried to come up with settlement to agree but now this email that you sent. You said we don’t have the right to be mad, after accusing us as cheaters, scam and involving our daughter. If you are not insensitive, not US.

May I inform you that we did not make any profit on your cabinets since we quoted it in a special price. You even posted it in your blog that we gave you the lowest price for your kitchen cabinet. We may have change some materials but our intention is to make it look nice and it is not cheap either and not to make money.

We have a company policy, if our Client is not happy with our product, we will give full refund and pull out what we supplied. At least you can have a chance to replace your cabinet s with what you wanted.

Just advice us when to deposit the P 171,320 and the schedule of pull out.


Nicole: So, you've just admitted that the material was changed on purpose and that it wasn't a mistake as Tita Cindy first claimed.

What else is there to assume especially if you keep repeating it's just the cabinet doors that has MDF (and it's been proven that it's not just the doors)? If it were really a mistake, you'd be clueless as you'd think nothing has MDF and wouldn't know which part has MDF.

When something is not part of the agreement amd the client is not informed, what would anyone normally think? Especially when you've WILLFULLY AND PURPOSELY changed it to cheaper and less durable materials? Anyone would naturally think they've been cheated and scammed.

I told you from the beginning no MDF. Then you're going to twist this into something that was supposed to be good? You're kidding, right?

We never asked for a discount, so if you're claiming you didn't make money, that was on you, not us.

Here's a quote I read yesterday that I thought timely and apt:

"Sometimes people pretend you're a bad person so they don't feel guilty about the bad things they did to you."

I told my family about the refund and pull out you're offering. You know what they said? "How rude!"

Again, how you're trying to twist this as though changing almost everything to MDF was out of the goodness of your heart is amazing. I am being extremely sarcastic in case you missed it.

Fine, don't give us a refund. That way I can forever think you owe us.

Lastly, as to your company policy, you first offered to refund the down payment in exchange for the doors. I suggested that we be given the difference given that 70% is MDF which you completely disregarded, and now you're insisting on complete pullout and refund. So on top of everything else, you're also mean-spirited. You're such a great example of honesty, accountability, and responsibility.

My mind is really blown on how you disregarded signed contracts (isn't that breach of contract?), and then claim it was for the greater good. Is that what you do to all your customers? If it was done to you, would you be happy? And then you're mad at me? This is so incredibly absurd!

Cusm: Because at first you didn't want the Php 48,320 which is why we offered the full payment refund and pull out. If a refund of Php 70,000 is okay with you then we won't pull out the cabinets. Please advise when we can make the deposit.

Nicole: That was because you said 48,320 for the doors. But it's not just the doors, is it?

We'll settle for Php 60,000 and up to you if and when to deposit.

Cusm: Will deposit Php 60,000 on Monday. I'll email the deposit slip once done.


They really have nerves of steel, don't they?

I've since come to the conclusion that the low rate they gave wasn't due to a discount, but because the material they used was cheap to begin with.

20 October 2017

The Cusm Furniture Shop Nightmare: Part II

- Six days later -

Nicole: Any update? Your silence makes me think more that all that MDF wasn't a mistake.

Cusm: I did not reply last week because we talked to the workers who were in charge of your cabinets, and according to them they only used MDF on the kitchen doors. And they don't remember anymore as it's been 7 years unless we go there and check. Anyway, we are really sorry and we will refund your downpayment. Can I get your bank account number or I will send thru LBC the amount of Php 48,320.

Nicole: Tita, you've been so sure from the beginning that only the doors have MDF. If it was a mistake, how would you or the workers know or remember? So it seems based on your emails, the MDF was on purpose especially since they even recall it was only for the doors.

No need to come over as I had Timberpro go over each and every cabinet. He told me more than 70% is MDF.

So we paid over Php 171,000+ for MDF. Is that fair?

I feel like we've been scammed. This reminds me of the time Uncle Stephen charged us Php 11,000 for a demand letter. I found out later Php 3,000 was already too expensive for that type of service. And my cousin-in-law told me he could have done it for free.

But we trusted Uncle Stephen as he was Daddy's brother. Needless to say to this day I feel betrayed and makes me question the type relatives Earl has. We also trusted you.

Let's hope you or your daughter never have to go through what we went through with you. You'll never understand how pained and angry I am until you experience the same thing.

Oh, remember I mentioned there were doors that were returned because I found out they were made of MDF? Their color is different from the rest of the cabinets so It was easy to find out which ones were replaced. It's not just the doors, a few drawers too. But I'm skeptical whether they were really replaced or just repainted.

So it seems that Timberpro is right.

Php 48,320 is not enough and not equal to how we've been cheated.

And here's one of the things that really gets to me - you've known from the beginning that the doors were made of MDF, why did you go through with it knowing what's on the signed contract? Why didn't you have it changed? You made us pay you the full amount even though you knew that what you did was wrong.

Again, if it was a mistake that you didn't know about, how did you or the workers know right away that it's only the doors?

Cusm: We will deposit Php 171,000 tomorrow. What bank did you give? We will pull out all the items on Saturday.

We will deposit tomorrow your P 171,000. What bank did you give? And please schedule the pull out of all that we deliver on Saturday.

Nicole: No, I just want what's fair. Are you being sarcastic? And it seems you're the one who's mad. Reminds me of an oft repeated saying.

Pull out all the kitchen, pantry, linen and laundry cabinets? It's different if it were just the doors - you could have just switched everything in one day.

Attached is a picture of one of the shelves. We're cleaning everything as we're moving in this weekend. They forgot to cover one end with laminate. Is that MDF?

And here's another shelf.

Just give what the price would have been for 70% MDF seven years ago and give us the difference from what we paid.

You said refund Php 171,000 and you'll pull out all the cabinets? Seriously? You're the one who's wrong and you're the one who's angry?

It really makes me question what kind of people are the ones who get mad even after they were found to be majorly at fault. Is that what you've taught your daughter?

Come to think of it, should I even trust you to give an honest refund? Based on your last reply, no.

What right have you to get mad? None.


The Cusm Furniture Shop Nightmare: Part III

15 October 2017

The Cusm Furniture Shop Nightmare: Part I

Duped by relatives? You be the judge.

If you've read through this blog, then you know how important it was for us to avoid having furniture made with medium-density fibreboard (MDF) as it's prone to mold and very flimsy. So in 2011, when we had our cabinets done by Cusm Furniture Shop, we specified that solid wood or plyboard was to be used for our cabinets. This was also reflected in the contracts we signed with them which you can view in the following links:

Kitchen cabinets
Laundry and pantry cabinets
Bedroom cabinets, linen closet, and bookshelves

Now that we've finally moved in, we've discovered, most of the cabinets are made of MDF. I confronted the owners, and below is what they had to say about the situation.

Nicole: Hi Uncle Mel and Tita Cindy, just wondering pls what material is in the attached picture. Is it MDF? It's not plyboard or solid wood.

Cusm: Hi Nicole, MDF.

Nicole: Thanks! That picture was from one of the kitchen cabinet doors you installed.

The thing is, I specifically said no MDF. Also, no where in the papers signed and specifications agreed upon in writing stated that MDF was the material to be used.

What we paid for is supposed to be 18mm thick solid mahogany in duco painted finish.

So now I'm wondering if all the supposedly solid mahogany doors are actually MDF.

Now I'm wondering if everything is made of MDF.

A few years ago, two or three of the doors were replaced because I found out they were made of MDF (the laminate chipped). I thought at the time that maybe it was just a mistake with a few doors. It's now looking like they're all MDF.

Cusm: We only use MDF for your kitchen doors only. Sorry for the late reply.

Nicole: But I didn't pay for MDF. The contract does not state MDF - it's supposed to be solid mahogany doors.

The first thing I said to Uncle Mel was no MDF. The contract and what we paid was for solid mahogany doors.

Why did you make it MDF? I've been feeling really bad and depressed about this. All along I believed we had solid wood doors. Honestly, I feel cheated.

Cusm: We are sorry if you feel bad and depressed. And we didn't cheat you, I don't know what happened that they used MDF on doors. We will refund half of the total cost of your kitchen cabinet.

Nicole: I take it the kitchen, pantry, and laundry cabinets all have MDF doors? Actually, would it be possible to get replacement doors instead please? Meaning, the doors to be changed to what was actually stated on the conforme?

Though, if you're too busy, then we'll go with the refund.

My old contractor just passed by the house and told me even the carcass is made of MDF (not just the doors).

We recently had a case of termites that ate part of the pantry cabinets. They took a look at the hole and said everything is made of MDF.

Cusm: I will asked Mel. Will email you again.

- Five days later -

Cusm: Can I get your account number? Will deposit your November 2010 downpayment P48,320.

Nicole: Timberpro is currently here at the house. He said the following have MDF:

- Kitchen cabinets - doors, some of the shelves
- Pantry & laundry cabinets - carcass, doors and shelves (in other words, EVERYTHING)
- Linen closet - carcass, doors and shelves (in other words, EVERYTHING)
- Bedroom closet - drawers and shelves

That's almost everything. Considering that no where in the contract is MDF listed as an approved, agreed, and paid for material, how did it get there? There's too much of it to be "mistake."

I initially asked for all to be ducco finish, it was Uncle Mel who suggested everything be covered in laminate. Remember, you even got mad at me because you said you've spent so much on laminates already. Take note it wasn't even my idea. Now I'm wondering if the laminate served another purpose.

How would you feel if you were in our shoes?


The Cusm Furniture Shop Nightmare: Part II

05 October 2017

Short Break

The end is near for this blog as we come to the conclusion of our home renovation. I'll be posting more supplier ratings as soon as I get back from vacation.

25 September 2017

We've Moved In!

Though it's a work in progress as we're currently sorting through boxes and organizing everything. We also still have to hunt for furniture (e.g. coffee table) and other things. In the meantime, here's a sneak peak of what the house looks like so far.

20 September 2017

Supplier Ratings: Woods Innovation Center

Supplier: Woods Innovation Center
Price Tag: Php 137,909
Rating: Php 6/10 (10 being the highest)

Their rates are reasonable and the workmanship, in general, isn't bad.

1. If you text or send them an email, it may take some time before they answer, if at all.

2. They don't follow measurements or instructions well. The white medicine cabinet, for example, is supposed to be brown. They delivered it covered in white laminate fully expecting me to just accept whatever they've decided on. They didn't bother to call or email to check beforehand whether white would be okay with me. They finally offered to redo it in brown after I started getting angry. I decided there was not enough time since we were planning to move-in already.

Another example is when the headboard arrived in two colors (white and brown) - it was just supposed to be one color. They insisted that they were following instructions until I showed them the signed contract. So it's very important to have everything in writing.

3. They're not great with small details. One part of the bunk bed needed paint. If I hadn't noticed, they would have left it looking dirty and unfinished. They also forgot to cover the inside of the cabinets with laminate, so it took them longer to install as they had to add it in at the last minute (they even had to make two trips to the house because of it).

4. They mess up your house. So while they did repaint the bunk bed, they splattered white paint all over the floor and didn't bother to clean it up. They also had excess adhesive on all sides of the mirror they installed and just told me to clean it up myself with paint.

5. I think they better find an alternative way to provide support. All their drawers have a wooden bar inside which I have never encountered before in any other drawer I've come across.

6. Don't expect them to be able to copy certain furniture styles. Below is what I requested (the white sofa) and what was delivered (I provided the fabric).

Three Seater Sofa - Php 18,000 (fabric not included)

Here are the other items we ordered from Woods Innovation Center:

Brown Mirror Frame - Php 8,500

Shoe Cabinet / Foyer Table - Php 15,000

Bunk Bed - Php 12,000

Queen Bed Frame (without mattress) - Php 17,000
Side Table - Php 4000 each


Bedroom Cabinets - set of three (top photo) - Php 39,409
Bathroom Medicine Cabinets - Php 5000 each
White Mirror Frame - Php 6500
Delivery Fee - 3500

10 September 2017

Blims & Uratex

Senso Memory Original

One would think that it's cheaper at the source, but in this case, it cost us much less to buy Uratex mattresses at Blims.

Mattress Type



1 pc. Senso Memory
Original - Queen



2 pcs. Orthocare Balance -



Delivery Fee







That's a difference of Php 5,320!

We looked at other mattress brands such as Vono, Dunlopillo, Ambassador, and Salem, but it was Uratex that won out in terms of price, size, and feel.

Orthocare Balance

05 September 2017

The Rainbow Conundrum

Before & After

Rainbow Cleaners came back and they came through! Yay, right? Not really.

When they returned to the house to do upholstery cleaning, they also had someone clean both bathrooms again. This time, the toilets came out sparkling! The magic ingredient was a bit of muriatic acid which they don't normally use. But at the time, the workers at the house informed me that NOTHING could be done.

So, while I am happier about the cleanliness of the toilets, confusion about the rates made me less than pleased. When they first gave the quotation, it just stated that the total was Php 11,580. Only recently did they give me a breakdown - after I had paid them already:

- Rate for general cleaning is Php 45/sqm

84 sqm - Php 3780
Outdoor cleaning - Php 2000
Cloth lampshade - Php 800
Transportation fee - Php 3000
Total - Php 9580

Let me repeat, they charged me Php 11,580 for everything mentioned above.

- Upholstery cleaning rates:

2 wing chairs at Php 700/each - Php 1400
1 3-seater sofa - Php 1500
Transportion fee - Php 2000
Total - Php 4900

I pointed out to them that we go to Makati everyday, where their office is located, and it does not cost Php 2000. They waived the transportation fee. And since they didn't do the outdoor cleaning or the cloth lampshade (among other things), they gave me a refund for the difference.

Imagine, if everything had gone according to plan, I would have never known that they had overcharged me.

31 August 2017

Renovation Update 20

In my last post, I mentioned that our contractor was at the house to do a few repairs. Well, I now wish I had never asked them to come over.

We paid to have to the varnish redone only to have a lot of green paint splattered all over. I'm wondering why didn't anyone use masking tape and cover the shelves with newspaper before painting the wall? Take note I never asked for the green wall to be repainted. It was a nice touch, but it ruined the shelves in the process. One of the workers tried to get most of it out, but there are still green specs on all three of the shelves.

Remember the splotches of paint in different areas of the house? The white baseboard had blue paint. Again, have they never heard of painter's tape and newspaper? Oh, right! Since they don't own the house, they don't care what it looks like. It's as if we paid them a ton of money to make our house look ugly.

First, blue paint on the baseboard, then a different shade of white to cover the blue. Most of what they've done needs repairing and the repair job also has to be fixed.

Not sure which is worse - multi-colored or multi-toned. The pictures above were taken a few days after they did the "repairs." I waited for the paint to dry first to see if things would improve.

One thing that I was glad about was that the workers were around to see the roof leak. Technically, the roof leaking is bad news, but at least they've seen it firsthand.

They're also giving a refund for the cost of the shelves.

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