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A Modern Asian Resort-Inspired Suburban Home


When we see a beautiful home, we may not know all the stories and secrets that went into its creation, but we will feel its energy. “I just wanted a happy home with happy colors,” the lady of the house tells us. She certainly achieved this; a light and breezy atmosphere pervades throughout this home. The high ceilings, the easy flow of the spaces, the beautiful trees that surround the property all make this home a true haven.


When asked to describe her collaboration with Architect James Jao, she quickly replies, “He’s funny!  So that made everything easy.”


Easy does not mean there were no bumps on the road. Jao recalls, “There was a big, beautiful tree in the front of the property and I really wanted to design around it. My client told me she wanted the feel of a modern Asian resort, maybe a little Balinese touch, and then there was a strong typhoon and the tree fell. It’s a good thing there was still another old tree, and I designed a courtyard around it, along with an open deck for the swimming pool. Thus, I was able to create a double height great room with cross ventilation. We also used poly-strylane walls, which are great for soundproofing and cooling the home.


“I went to the London School of Economics to learn all about building green homes; homes that are carbon neutral and energy efficient.  Nowadays, you can build an eco home for the same cost as a traditional home, so why not be part of the future?”


So what became of the tree that fell? “I am so happy that we were able to make a coffee table and some benches from the wood of that tree,” shares the lady of the house.  Jao adds, “Actually, it was a blessing in disguise, because the view from the house is much nicer now. There's a clear view of the polo field across the house.”


Jao combined narra planks and bio wood, a composite of old wood to achieve a sense of luxury tempered by ease of maintenance. “Bio wood and many other eco materials are zero maintenance. So you're doing good for the environment and making housekeeping even easier.”


Room to Grow

Another request from the lady of the house was that everyone in her family would have lots of private space. She even requested that the guest room be a little house within the house, so the den acts as a sitting area with its own little staircase for the visting guests. “My husband has siblings who live abroad and when they come to stay with us, of course, I still want them to have a sense of privacy.”


Each bedroom also has its own sitting room. “All the bedrooms are corner rooms, and there is a wraparound balcony, again to take advantage of the breeze and the view,” Jao adds. “I really took time with the floor plan because I wanted the whole family to enjoy the space.”


The lady of the house and her daughter are avid readers so they also asked for a library, and it is a book lover’s dream, complete with English- style ladder to reach the higher shelves. “At around the time that we were building this house, my mom was clearing her house and she had given me all these books. My daughter is home-schooled so she has her classes here.” From the gleam in her eyes, she clearly cherishes this room.


Art from the Heart

The youngest of the family, her daughter, loves to draw and paint, and in the master suite and the kitchen, her work takes pride of place. The family loves to travel and their souvenir magnets and travel photos line the walls of the house. Both children love to invite their friends over so the home is always abuzz with activity.


“My friends love this house, too. It’s good for big or small gatherings. If we have a small group, we can just eat in the dining room, and spill out onto the deck. But if we have a larger party, we can open up the great room, the kitchen, the courtyard with the great tree and have lots of space for all our friends. At first, I found it strange that James put the garden on one side of the house, and the pool on the other side, but now I see how well it all works.”


The lady of the house worked with her friend and interior designer Cristina Trinidad, but Jao reveals with glee and delight, “But she is really the one who loves to go around and look for things for the house. She will go to all the stores and even to bazaars to find things for her house!”


As the shoot progresses, and the easy banter and light teasing go on, it is not difficult to imagine why this goal of a happy home was so effortlessly achieved. It is clearly manifested in the generous and warm spirit shared by the homeowner, her family and their convivial collaborators.


Photographs by Paul del Rosario