EXCLUSIVE: Inside The Stylish Apartment Of Stephanie Kienle-Gonzalez Inspired By Their "Travels, Stories, And Lifestyle"
Wife, mother, entrepreneur, and now @metrochannelph co-host #StephanieKienleGonzalez opens her home in @metrosocietyph’s Home & Design issue. Immensely talented photographer @bjpascual captures @stephkienlegonzalez, one of our top 10 on #MetroMostStylish, in her element—sashaying and grooving to her playlist, all smiles, and playing dress up. Steph has truly mastered the art of understated chic, in her style and in her home decorating. Read more about this beautiful issue at the link in our bio. • Photos by @bjpascual Story by @puyatleah Makeup by @reeaquino of @maccosmeticsph Hair by @janbenj13 • #Living #Home #MetroSociety #MetroHome #wellstyledlife #lifestyled #lifegoals #inspiredliving
"GOYA-ESQUE,” captioned whip-smart lawyer and formidable woman of style Tunting Cruz Matters when she posted an impressionistic style photo of Stephanie Kienle Gonzalez, in a flamenco pose at a glorious wedding set in Madrid. It was a particularly inspired union of image and word, as Goya is most famous for his twin “Las Majas, Desunuda y Vestida,” and a maja is an 18th-19th century Madrileña known for wearing the colorful native dress, and in a proud manner. A more modern definition is one who is nice, attractive and good-looking, and there are few women as strikingly winsome as the radiant Steph, who makes being a wife, mother, entrepreneur, online lifestyle columnist, and now, a television co-host of Metro Home, look easy-breezy. As it is now expressed, she and her life are most definitely “#goals.” The only discordant note in this visual metaphor is that Goya’s majas are famous for their languorous reclining pose. And if there’s one thing that Steph doesn’t do, it’s lie around and do nothing.
To wit: on the day of this magazine’s cover shoot, BJ Pascual is shooting Stephanie for the cover and Paul del Rosario is shooting her home, which will all be integrated into one story. She also has to do interviews for Metro.Style, Metro Society magazine, and then merch plugs for the Metro Channel. She then has to cross the metropolis for a construction site meeting for the newest branch of Philux, the furniture company founded by her parents, Max and Zelda Kienle, where she is currently the vice president for sales and development. Each shot for the magazine requires a change of hair and makeup and outfit, but Steph still manages to check on the home shots, as she points out corners and objects of interest. She quips, “With the interiors, I can see which angles might come out wrong.” We counter, “What could possibly look wrong?”
In the midst of the flurry, she keeps the mood and the energy up. When I remind her of the time that I had met her and a dinner party we both attended, she reminds me, “But we were just at that shoot together, when we shot the place done by Cynthia! Thank you so much for giving me confidence that day!” I reply immediately that she is a natural interviewer and born to be on television, and she replies, “Do you really think so? I know that television magnifies everything and I have to do less with my hands and my face!”
When she turns on the music, she sashays a bit, does a little shimmy, and grooves as she smiles at BJ and says, “It’s your shoot playlist!” When Anton Barretto, the editor-in-chief of Metro Home and her co-host on the show of the same title arrives, she exclaims warmly, “I’m so glad you’re here!” She wants the interiors to be impeccably styled and photographed. When it is close to lunch time, she even goes around to ask everyone if they prefer chicken or burgers. She has also laid out healthy snacks, candies, and chocolates, water, iced tea and lemonade, which are then replenished throughout the day. Her lovely daughters also pop in now and then, and they make everyone fall in love with them at first sight.
Young, wild and free
The colors in her high-rise home are mostly neutral, but there is an air of adventure, and audacity in the way pieces have been juxtaposed. “We are so connected to Africa; first, because my grandmother on my dad’s side still lives there and my dad was born there. And then, Chris (her husband) and my girls just really love it there; we’ve gone as a family and then for our anniversary, we went—just (the two of) us—to the border of Botswana and Tanzania. That particular trip would have been too dangerous for the girls. We do make it a point to take a trip, just us.” In a past interview, Steph revealed that the untamed openness of the African plains stirs her heart and soul, and she revels in the sensation of being part of the magnificence of nature. And so, playful elephants cavort on a shell inlay chair; a flamboyance of flamingoes adorns the walls of her powder room; a pandemonium of parrots parades on a fabric that covers the doors that disguise her husband’s “giant TV”; and a singular wildboar skull rests on an armoire. Underfoot, animal hides add warmth and a camp-like feel to her foyer. Tribal stools replace a coffee table on her balcony, and books on Africa take pride of place on her shelves and console tables. One particularly massive book is the Peter Beard book. Beard is an almost mythical figure in the world of social history, fashion, and art. There is a Byronic air to him; he embodies the spirit of one who is mad, bad, and dangerous to know. He was born to an old East-Coast family and then married Minnie Cushing, an old-school heiress, who soon got tired of his preppy life and flew off to Africa. He famously invented the story that supermodel Iman was a sheepherder to make her seem more exotic. He also romanced Lee Radziwill and many other beauties, but in the last few years, he has become more known for his audacious collages, assembled with his diary pages, photographs, and handwritten lines and bold swathes of paint.
“My husband Chris loves art and the more we fell in love with Africa, the more it made sense to add Peter Beard works to our collection. He’s just a really cool guy and we both love what he does. We met him and his wife in New York and he even gave our daughter Andrea a little book, which she reads almost every day.”
“When people see our home, they usually say, ‘It’s so you!’ or, that there’s a warm sense to it. And that’s exactly what it is. It’s good that they can get a sense of who we are from our home. There’s no one particular look, but more of a feeling. So there are touches from our travels, but also something very Filipino. And more importantly, this is a home for our girls.”
With each shot, Steph confers on every detail with BJ. She says, “This isn’t a fashion shoot, so no looking away and non-smiling shots.” She prefers to take many different shots for each scenario, aware that it doesn’t always work on the first take. Regarding her new leap of faith as a television host, she admits, “I’ve always been a talker. I did have some doubts, I’ll admit. The thing is, the show is about interiors, so in a way, it’s not that much outside my comfort zone.”
Often portrayed in her magazine features and cover shoots as impossibly and unattainably chic, Steph reveals, “People don’t know that I’m in a dusty factory many days in a week! Or that I’m very self-deprecating. My dad has always been like that, and I got that from him.” Asked to characterize her recent evolution, she says, “I like to think of myself as a constant work in progress; I am never stagnant. So while every year brings on more responsibilities, more daily stress, there’s also more perspective.”
Also in between each shot, Steph finds a way to bond with her girls. She delights in capturing little Arielle cooing with glee as she sits on the makeup chair and grabs the makeup brushes. She proudly tells us that four-year-old Andrea is on her way to a ballet recital, impossibly cute in her tutu.
“I’m scared of what I see on social media! What kind of world will my girls go into? And so my husband and I want them to develop a strong work ethic; to know how blessed they are and to love work. At the same time, I want them to know who they are and how to embrace the flow of life.” Lessons Andrea and Arielle will learn from their very own mother.
Though we are the ones who have invaded her home and cluttered her urban retreat with cameras and cables and our own inquisitive presence, she enthuses: “Thank you so much for spending the day in my home.” The gratitude goes both ways. As I walked to a friend’s place near our shoot, I felt a heightened appreciation for how the well-considered, wellplanned, and beautifully crafted life can gladden the heart and enrich the soul. “Beauty will save the world,” the Russian novelist Dostoevsky once wrote, and to revel in a life where one makes beautiful objects so that many others can also craft their own private cocoons can be a participation in salvation.
Serendipitously enough, as the deadline for this story neared, I came across a Japanese word: shokunin. The writer Tasio Odate writes: “The Japanese word shokunin is defined by both Japanese and Japanese-English dictionaries as ‘craftsman’ or ‘artisan’ but such a literal description does not fully express the deeper meaning… It means not only having technical skills, but also implies an attitude and social consciousness. The obligation is both spiritual and material.”
On the surface, it is easy to assume that a lady of Stephanie Kienle Gonzalez’s beauty and style is blissfully and blithely gliding through life. But her meticulous devotion to each and every area of her life, from her passion for her work, to her deep love for her family, and to the attention she has lavished on her home can only be the natural result of good, old-fashioned hard work, discipline, and organization. They don’t sound glamorous, but there’s always grit behind the glitz.
What about design, art and home décor do you love the most?
It has something to do with the story behind the piece I’m attracted to, aside from its visual appeal.
How does your home décor reflect your personal style?
It’s classic with a twist of modern, and it’s enriched by pieces with a story behind them.
What is the design style of your home?
Our home contains a mix from our travels, stories, and our lifestyle. We’ve included touches of Africa just because we really love our trips there, and touches of the Philippines. Like I said, a lot of it is layered, and the inspiration is not just from one particular thing, but from collaborating on our family story.
Design-wise, what is your focal point?
Each room has its own focal point and I look into form and function as well—not just how the room looks, but the purpose of the room.
What are the first things people notice when they step in?
I think they notice that it’s bright but it has a lot of green, I’ve always wanted that in our apartment, something bright and fresh. Really bringing the outdoors in is important to me, that was one of the things that I wanted to highlight.
As a family, what is your favorite place to hang out in?
My kids and husband would say the TV room, for obvious reasons, but I’d like to say, my closet because I like to play dress up with my two little girls.
From experience, what has been the best way to merge fashion and function?
As I am a mom, function has become more important to me. It’s a lot more than how a piece looks but how you feel when you wear it.
What about this place makes it feel like home?
My two little girls and my husband, of course, and all the little accessories that they leave behind.
This article was originally published in Metro Society's June 2018 issue.
Photography by BJ Pascual
Interior photography by Paul del Rosario
Makeup by Ria Aquino
Hairstyling by Jan Edrosolan
Styling by Rex Atienza and StyleList, Inc.