EXCLUSIVE: Nicole Asensio's Townhouse Went From Cabin Style To Modern Luxe—See The Transformation Here!
At home with Nicole Asensio
When singer/songwriter Nicole Asensio acquired this old townhouse, there were two options—either she sells it or renovates it. While renovating a house this old has its share of challenges, she still found herself going for this option mainly because of the fact that this townhouse is bigger than the new ones built today.
Nicole tells Metro.Style. “I thought it would be such a waste to sell or trade it off, because the townhouses which are in my budget range these days aren’t as big as this.”
When she was convinced to devote time and resources to this home renovation project, Nicole didn’t consider any other expert to work on it with besides her cousin, interior and furniture designer Nikki Laurel. “We agree on almost everything,” quips Nicole, and so having her cousin to turn to made things easier. Despite their busy schedules, the two managed to make things work, thanks to technology; “I would Viber, WhatsApp, or FaceTime her to ask for her opinion, and she would do the same to ask for my approval,” Nicole says proudly of her collaboration with Nikki who she grew up with.
The renovation took almost a year. “That’s pretty fast, assuming that we really broke down almost everything, even the windows and ceilings,” Nikki shares.
Nicole knows what she wants, and Nikki is more than happy to translate her requirements into interior spaces that reflect her client’s aesthetic. Nicole shares, “I’m into fashion so when you put together a look, it’s kind of the same [with designing a house], like your lighting fixtures are your jewels; your textiles, you have to have different textures. Nikki translated those for me. The look that I had aesthetically, she was able to translate into interior design.”
Nicole Asensio with her cousin, interior and furniture designer Nikki Laurel
Scroll down to see some "before" shots of Nicole Asensio's townhouse, and flip through this gallery to see what her home looks like now. While the house is still in progress (there will be a rooftop garden!), the dramatic transformation this 25-year-old property went through so far is impressive.
Upon stepping into the house, one can barely see the country style, cabin feel this house used to have. “It had a lot of adobe rock,” recalls Nikki. While the design was interesting in its traditional sense, it just didn’t mirror the lady of the house’s personality. Nicole, with her edgy yet sophisticated fashion style, wanted a modern house.
She says, “We kind of went for something neither traditional nor modern.” Nikki likes to call it “modern luxe,” and with the marriage of traditional and modern elements into one cohesive look, there’s also a transitional sensibility that is evident throughout.
While they kept some of the old beams, particularly in the music room that used to be an attic room, they torn down walls and ceilings to achieve a more open layout that suits a more modern lifestyle.
The luxe aspect in the design brief is felt in the neutral scheme that was punctuated by touches of suede and leather, as well as finishes of brass and antique gold. There are also lots of wooden furnishings whose grains and textures add a rich visual interest to the spaces.
For their dream designs to materialize and their Pinterest-worthy pegs to come to life, it was crucial for them to have pieces customized to their exact specifications. They had the sectional sofa in the living room reworked with a distressed leather finish as well as the wooden top of the coffee table across it cut to a certain shape; the dining chairs widened for more comfort and ease of use; the buffet table finished off with a luxurious fabric; and the shoe rack in Nicole's walk-in closet crafted with a rotating spice rack as the inspiration.
With their keen eye for details and solid design intentions, they were successful at furnishing the house with unique, stylish, and practical pieces that help give it a much-needed character. And what was more interesting is that, while the goal was to have a luxurious-looking home, Nicole and Nikki sourced the best deals and worked with start-up or up-and-coming suppliers—take, for instance, the statement lighting fixture by Furniture Anthology in the master bedroom which Nicole got on a 70% discount (apparently, Nicole says, "No one wanted to buy it. I was like, 'Now, I really want it, knowing that no one else wanted it'") and the brass base of her dining table which was done by a supplier in Pampanga. As this home proves, luxurious is not synonymous to expensive; this is what Nicole calls the "luxe for less."
Read more about the main areas of Nicole Asensio's house below:
A foyer of sorts, this bright space greets one upon entering. What used to be a fish pond is now an open space Nicole calls the atrium, where natural light is abundant. The area cuts through to the house's third floor. It has become one of Nicole's favorite spots for a selfie, and we can totally see why.
The wall here may be plain now, but Nicole says dressing up her house with artwork is next on her to-do list. She tells Metro.Style, “I’m taking my time because I don’t want to end up with a bunch of generic art. I mean, there is nothing wrong with generic art but I want family to be part of it. Like, if Nikki has a piece, my mom is also a painter, so if she has a piece, it would mean more to me to have those than having a bunch of pieces that don’t really have sentimental value.”
Nicole had asked her artist cousin, Francisco “Paco” Sanz, to create an abstract masterpiece for her. Nikki, on the other hand, advised that it should be a three-paneled artwork so as not to get overpowered by the big stark white wall as well as the huge sectional sofa.
Retaining the house's old layout, the living room is still across the dining area and has the view of a pocket garden on the side.
The sectional leather sofa, Nicole says, was Nikki's choice. To achieve a textured finish, Nicole shares, "We had it customized by Restoration. It took a while to get it because the leather that we used, I wanted it distressed, but they didn't have an exact gray swatch that's distressed. So, we had them make one; they dyed it first and they distressed it." Also by Restoration are the side tables (one was shortened and customized to create nesting tables) and coffee table. The rug is from Pottery Barn; on her choice of rug, Nicole says, "I had to get something low-maintenance because of my dog so as much as I like the wool, the look of it, it just wasn’t a good fit for my dog.
This area was amplified tenfold by the backlit onyx wall by David Kaufman Store against a brown wall. Nikki shares, "Nicole really wanted an onyx, 'yun na ang pinaka-statement. Everything else had to be played down because we didn’t want to distract attention away from the wall." To make the accent wall stand out, the furnishings were kept to a subdued color scheme. The dining chairs are by Nix Alañon.
Nicole loves surrounding herself with her family and friends, so she really wanted to have a big dining table that can also accommodate all her bandmates.
The kitchen used to be an enclosed space that only had small jalousie windows, which they replaced with big sliding glass windows to brighten up the area. "It looked like an industrial kitchen, at parang ang lungkot magluto du'n," shares Nicole. To give the kitchen a whole new look, she and Nikki outfitted it with sleek black cabinets, real marble countertops, and marble tiles for backsplash.
Master bedroom and walk-in closet
In the master bedroom, the modern luxe theme was visible through and through—from the chevron-patterned gray headboard anchored by a fringed gold statement lighting fixture, to the brown leather swivel chairs at a coffee nook near a small balcony, to the walk-in closet that was dramatic with shades of taupes and blacks and pops of agate (not to mention the backlit cabinets and the rotating spice rack-inspired shoe storage unit). Small yet thoughtful details, like the cabinet handles in agate (which Nicole collects), lend futher luxurious treatment to the space. This whole space truly fits the fashionista that Nicole is.
Photographs by Paola Aseron
Shoot assistant: Cara Tirona
Before photos courtesy of Nicole Asensio