EXCLUSIVE: The Best Christmas Home Tours—Jenny Zapanta Welcomes Us Into Her Elegant Space
As we start the new year, let's look back at some of the most beautiful homes that were decked out for Christmas 2018.
Many artists turn to other people to inspire or evolve their creations. For top interior designer Tessa Alindogan, this somewhat adorably capricious character is her long-term partner Jenny Zapanta.
The two share an elegant space south of Metro Manila—a home clearly showcasing Tessa’s taste through the coming together of an elegantly monochromatic combination of bold art pieces and statement furniture pieces. During the holidays, this home gets a taste of something different. For the pair, Christmas ushers in the exciting opportunity to spruce up this well designed space. And throughout the past six years, it is Jenny who carefully curates it with flair.
“In the States, it’s so different. Parang you’re all alone there, but here, you’re surrounded by so many people that you know,” Jenny says. She had moved to the Philippines after living in the States for 30 years. “I feel the Christmas spirit so much more here versus abroad—because my family is here,” she shares. “Apart from that, Filipinos start preparing for Christmas so much earlier. So the holidays feel like they stay around longer.” Their home serves as the venue for their family event for the Yuletide season. And having an inclination for putting the right pieces in place to make a gathering work, Jenny takes on the role of putting this all together for her loved ones year after year. She believes that Christmas is a cooler time, not only when it comes to the weather, but also when it comes to people’s moods.
From her perspective, the holidays welcome a unique time when the cheer is heightened, sourness becomes sweet, and folks become generally merrier—making it an ideal hosting occasion when you can go all out. And for Jenny, that entails a certain degree of planning. Sometimes, as soon as the holidays are over, she can already be seen scanning through Christmas decorations in preparation for the next year. “I’ll buy as I see something I like,” she quips.
When asked what she likes most about hosting the holidays, Jenny is quick to say that she loves the preparation. She invests time in the planning process, figuring out which details to add to the décor or menu to ensure that her guests feel happy and full when they leave her home. “You just have to put the right parts in place so that you can give people a good time,” she shares. “And that part’s a lot of fun.” One would think there’s a certain pressure when it comes to decorating a house that is itself a work of art. But there is no semblance of concern in Jenny’s mannerisms. In fact, if there’s any mood that she exudes, it would be excitement. When asked where she begins to conceptualize the look for the season, she points out that her reference will always be the venue, or “the shell” as she would call it. “The nice part for me is the decorating,” she says. “I make a theme, so that’s already my personal touch… the whole décor is my personal touch.”
It was probably fateful that Tessa and Jenny agree on a penchant for black, a typically unusual color for festivities. But Jenny assures that it complements the décor that she has planned for the house. “There’s always black. Black is elegant. It’s a staple,” she shares. Tessa gives her free reign to do as she wants with her dream home. What could be a more in tune with the spirit of giving than that?
But Jenny does enter a dilemma of sorts. When asked which is most important about hosting, she becomes a little flustered. “During the planning process, the food and the decorations are equally important,” she shares. But after letting the thoughts simmer, she finds a confident response. “It’s the food,” she says unflinchingly. Glorious food. Jenny makes sure she prepares a sumptuous feast for her family. She provides staples such as ham, cheese, ensaymada—everyone is sure to pack on a couple of happy holiday pounds after noche buena. But the best is still yet to come.
Dessert will always be the piece de resistance for Jenny. What kind of dessert? “Anything. I have a sweet tooth. I always make sure there are sweets in the house,” she shares, all the while playfully waving the chocolate lollipop she was enjoying during the interview. The preparations come together in what Jenny deems as the most important room in the house: the kitchen. “For some reason, we always end up in the kitchen. Whether it’s with family or friends, each gathering that’s happened here always ends up in the kitchen.”
This is her playground. Jenny’s sweet tooth has driven her to make her own pastries. “I can bake, but I don’t cook,” she quips. When asked if she’ll be preparing anything for this year, she confidently answers, “Of course. Dessert… kung p'wede nga wala ng meal,” she kids. Jenny is well-versed in hosting get-togethers for her clan. It’s not uncommon that her family comes together. She sees them almost ritually every Sunday so the holidays have to become extra special. So far, she has learned that in preparing a good holiday gathering, her staff must be trained very well. It’s key to making sure that her guests are well taken care of. It actually becomes a little anti-climactic for Jenny when the celebration comes, because it means that she has done her part. Tessa does more of the socializing. Jenny operates better behind the scenes and enjoys ensuring that her guests are well fed and comfortable. She says, “I’m normally quiet, kasi. It’s very loud (during the celebration).”
The holidays do become immensely festive in Jenny’s home. When asked how she would describe her family, she quickly answers: “Noisy.” She enjoys the merry chatter of guests well fed and properly entertained. Her parents join the celebratorions. “We just make sure that things don’t end too late for them, so they can rest,” Jenny shares.
During the holidays, Jenny considers each and every one of her family members’ needs, especially the younger guests. “Our family—we’re already a lot. And then there are the kids. I let them just relax and enjoy.” There’s an obvious spark of excitement in discussing how a lot of the preparation takes into account what the kids might like. She remembers, “Christmas is magical when you’re a child.” And she hopes to preserve that idea in her nephews and nieces’ minds. Now that she is in charge, Jenny is the one behind the magic. She takes it upon herself to give them that fantastical Christmas experience. “You want to make it nice for them. That’s my happiness,” she shares.
Though admittedly still evolving to be a consummate host, Jenny is certainly on the right track. She exemplifies the intention of providing a bountiful and joyous setting for all her guests, no matter what age. Like a star on the tree, a guiding light, Jenny punctuates her vision for the holidays: “The nicest part is knowing everyone had a good time.”
Photographs by Jar Concengco for Metro Society
Makeup by Patrick Alcober using Make Up For Ever
Hairstyling by Francis Guintu using Revlon Professional