This Simple And Modern Home With An Asian Twist Incorporates Elements Of Nature
It’s a little past lunchtime and at one of the upper floors of Arya Residences in Taguig City, the ever-chic and always-cordial interior decorator and lifestyle consultant Tania Fricke Lichauco welcomes us into another passion project of hers. We call it “passion project” since helping furnish a home doesn’t exactly feel—and look—like work to Tania who helms her eponymous seven-year-old design company. For her, there are no clients, simply friends asking for a favor to make their dwelling a little more inspiring and inviting.
One such friend is the lady of the condominium unit, with Korean roots. She and Tania were introduced by mutual friends and they have been good friends for more than a year now. It was timely that the lady of the house chose to buy a unit early last year, and chose Tania among other designers to adorn the unit.
In Search of a Sanctuary
The family hailed from South Korea. In previous years, the businessman patriarch was the only who had lived in the Philippines, choosing to go back and forth to Korea for the loved ones he had left behind. It only took a matter of time before he, his wife, and their two children moved to Manila for good.
Their unit in Arya, which they now call home, instantly appealed to them as it faces east, designed with a 180-degree glass wall view of Bonifacio Global City’s skyscrapers silhouetted by the morning sun. But while the floor plan and architecture already offered the much-needed solace, the interiors really made it feel like home away from home.
Tania tried to mix the initially agreed Asian theme into something very “simple and modern” that Koreans usually preferred. In designing this unit, she recalls, “They wanted it to look elegant, but not stiff because they have two young children, so we have things that are very child-friendly. We had to make sure that there was the integration of ideas.”
A Home Away From Home
Tania’s plan was obviously to make the unit warmer and more restful. To kick-start this, she dropped the ceiling, introduced cream, white, and pale taupe for the principal colors, and installed a lot of wood for the oriental and/or nature-themed appeal.
Two hanging pieces of chunky, wooden frames that Tania rummaged from a garage sale welcome guests at the door. The living area shows a theme of gray, brass, and copper for the colors, with Tania’s own customized low table of wood and glass as the centerpiece in contrast to Tata Montilla’s exquisite glass tables standing on “twigs” at the side. The patriarch has his own cozy corner in the living area, a leather couch next to a bar and a wooden stump as the table for his drinks. Tania herself designed a wooden border to encase the TV, making it seem like floating against the wooden wall. To keep the nature-inspired theme of the living area, she added a cane cabinet to hold the players, remote controls, and other equipment.
The dining area in the same room follows the same theme of the living area—white, gray, and wood dominating the colors. The table, another of Tania’s design, is another rendition of the aforementioned table in the living room, also serving as the highlight of the space. She turned the wall beside it into a glass mirror to reflect more light and add an illusion of space.
Rooms of Refuge
The rooms in the unit slightly deviate from Tania‘s style principles executed in the living and dining areas. She relied heavily instead on the taste of the room owners including the two children.
The master bedroom still looks contemporary Asian with the wooden design for the bookshelves, cabinets, and the closet, plus, the lamps and the La-Z-boy in complementary white. The shocker comes in the gold and turquoise for the bed and walls. Tania explains, “They want it to look restful. They were willing to go with the gold because it is a color that not everybody likes, but they were willing to take a chance with the gold.”
Tania made sure the children’s rooms exuded timelessness and practicality. The sixth grader son, for example, has his room in themes of “refreshing” denim and dirty white against his collections of wrestling posters and action figures on display. The daughter, now in fourth grade, has her room in lavender, green, and white colors to match her obsession with Hello Kitty. Tania especially installed a lattice divider to match the young lady’s daybed.
Tania left the corridor on the way to the rooms bare, except for the matriarch’s paintings amassed from the couple’s honeymoon in Italy, from their art shopping in Korea, and those her mother-in-law did herself in Chinese watercolor.
Living in Style
The unit serves as another exemplar of Tania’s signature style in interior design, which, we tell her, has always been about elegance and comfort.
“I think most of my clients get me because I do make their rooms cozy and comfortable, but still elegant and livable. Like when they see a home and say, ‘Aww, it’s so cozy!’ And yet there’s an elegance and luxe to it, and it doesn’t feel stiff. So, I think my trademark is that I make it look really pretty but comfortable and not something that looks like a hotel lobby. There has to be that cozy feeling—that homey feeling.
“For me, the biggest pleasure is when friends tell me how they love coming home to the home I created for them. It’s just really the best feeling for me. I love receiving those texts.”
More than the classiness and comfort that Tania tries to bring to her work, she likes how she has always championed Filipino artistry in her projects by always incorporating them in the interiors.
Photographs by Paul del Rosario, courtesy of Metro Home & Entertaining