A Moroccan-Themed Home Decked Out For The Holidays
From the outside, this two-storey home located in a southern suburban community looks conventional with its warm terracotta walls and well-manicured lawn. But walk in a little further, and your impression changes completely.
The high ceilings allow sunlight to flood in and hit you the moment you step inside the living room, instantly taking your breath away. The space and grandeur are the first things that catch your attention, before you inevitably turn to the many exotic, ornamental touches. Clearly, this house could not belong to just any homeowner, as the exquisite, unusual details reveal an eye for adventure, travel, and good taste. The lady of the house decided to adapt a Moroccan theme when they began decorating the place, which has become a hideaway of sorts for her large, growing family: six children and 18 grandchildren, who all regularly congregate here to have lunch, catch up, and bond every weekend. Her first idea when the architecture team of Antonio Balde and Son began construction was something else entirely.
“What I had in mind was a country home,” she relates, and her primary motivation was having a large space to accommodate her sizeable brood. But then she recalled a favorite trip she took with friends years ago, which eventually became the jump-off point for inspiration. In the middle of planning for this home, they said, “Why don’t we go to Morocco?” And just like that, another trip was booked, and it was on that working vacation that they sourced and purchased many of the decorative items that are now in her home.
Once she had settled on the theme, everything else simply followed. It helped that her daughter is an interior designer, but since she had to relocate to the US midway through, another interior designer, Marissa Alejandro Lopa, also came on board. A family friend who was happy to take on the project, she had traveled with them on that fateful first Moroccan trip years ago, including an unplanned detour to a souk when she’d had her fill of the tourist spots. On the visit when they were planning for this particular home, she got a feel of what they were looking for and what they would like, which she describes as “a richness that’s not the usual European style. It’s a faded opulence, and it’s different. They like it because not many have it.” Alejandro-Lopa also managed to build up her own network of trusted contacts over the years, which proved to be a big advantage. “I’ve made friends in Morocco from my other trips,” she says, and so she and the homeowner arrived back in the country carrying a container full of rare, precious finds. “We were able to source special objects that you can’t just get, even if you travel there. Everything we bought, we used.”
Morocco itself, a North African kingdom with a rich culture and heritage, was already such a fascinating source of inspiration that the work ended up becoming thoroughly enjoyable. “It’s the most romantic place, very Biblical-looking. It’s another world,” she says. That otherworldly effect was certainly well translated, with the Moroccan touches—silver jars, Berber doors mounted on the walls, tiles bordering the windows, intricately patterned chests and carpets, Hand of Fatima door knockers—pulling your eye toward different focal points as you wander around. They are spread out so skillfully, however, that the house still feels very much comfortably lived-in and stops short of looking like a stuffy museum or antique showcase. “I love that this house is so ‘used.’ It was a matter of knowing when to put the detail in and knowing when to stop if it was just too much,” Alejandro-Lopa explains. “We wanted it to function well, but at the same time, how do you put all these traditional, old stuff together? We introduced the old elements but kept it modern. I wanted it to not be out of place with regards to their lifestyle.”
Take the wall by the living room, where a colorful archway is highlighted from behind by a bright turquoise panel. One can easily imagine that this once belonged in the home of royalty, a portal to another place and time. But here, it serves as the backdrop to many of their family photos. There’s also a huge wooden closet between the glass doors leading to the terrace, a design element that serves a double purpose as storage. Although the closet is actually from Mexico, it blends in perfectly with the rest of the space. It was purchased from Alejandro-Lopa’s home store, Nest, located along Jupiter Street in Makati, along with the two bright couches in the center.
Alejandro-Lopa’s favorite part of the entire home, though, is the powder room that can be found under the staircase. Fitted with a delicately painted door and an authentic Moroccan ceiling, it evokes a sense of awe and wonder, even for something so functional.
Home Sweet Home
The homeowner favors the master bedroom, though, because she likes to spend much of her day relaxing there. She also loves the decorative grills. “It’s just right for the house. And the lighting, of course; at night, it’s so pretty,” she says. She’s referring to the LED lights installed in the ceiling, a flattering way to show off the décor that allows them to save on electricity, too. The huge and airy second-floor balcony has a billiards table, ping-pong table, and a gorgeous view of the golf course. The location of the home was a plus when they moved in, since her husband, children, and grandkids are all avid golfers.
Construction took about two years, and she visited the site daily to oversee every detail. “I was hands on. Every nail, every single thing in this house, I was really into it,” she says. She would even request that things be redone if they weren’t to her liking. But all of that hard work and attention to detail has paid off, because she now has a home that’s even better than the one she had originally hoped for.
She says, “I thought it would be nice to have just a simple country home. Never in my mind did I think I would have something like this. When I’m here, I know that I’m safe and that things are well.”
Photographs by William Ong