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An Old Duplex Transformed Into a Modern Three-Storey Home


The house exhibits a brilliant exercise in space planning, harmonizing the previous structure with more contemporary plans. The duplex that took up residence here in the 1980s was effortlessly transformed into a modern three-bedroom home that echoes the new homeowners’ pragmatic sensibilities. Redesigned by Architect Jojo Dayrit and interior designers Anton Barretto and Tessa Alindogan, the home’s end result is reconciled restraint with a touch of candor.

The couple purchased the 500-sq.m. lot in Makati in 2012 and were set on renovating the existing duplex. They were aware of the myriad challenges the project posed, but they liked the unconventional charm of the domicile. The homeowner shares, “We went through a lot of renovating because the house looked so old with its anay finish. It had been built three decades ago. It is much harder to renovate a home than to start from scratch. We had a lot of structural slabs to work around.”

What remained were the bones of the previous dwelling and its concept of huge windows. The high ceiling in the foyer is another favorite feature of the couple that they decided to retain. Pointing to a column in the middle of the living room, she says, “That column was the main division between the two homes, and we just tore down the wall. Then we took out one of the stairs in one of the homes.”

Finding the Perfect Mix
“We visited an interior designer’s home a few years ago, and the interiors were imprinted in my memory,” says the wife, referring to the personal home of Tessa Alindogan that is frequently published for its monochromatic black and white interiors. “I really admire Tessa’s place. I also love her and her business partner Anton’s sense of style and attention to detail.”

When the opportunity came for the couple to build their first home, they knew immediately who they wanted to work with. Tessa and Anton have both accumulated a compelling portfolio in the past two decades, turning over beautiful residential, commercial and hotel interiors that reaffirmed the couple’s choice. Initial meetings with the designers focused on the busy couple’s preference to make things low maintenance. They both work and leave the house by 7:30 in the morning. The wife says, “We are inclined towards clean lines and nothing too frou frou. We also wanted the flow of the house to be continuous because we feel it is a small lot so we wanted the areas on the ground floor to open up to each other instead of limiting them.” To create the feel of space, sliding doors instead of walls serve as divisions in case the couple wants to keep a certain area air-conditioned.

The family room is dubbed the most frequently visited room by everyone since the couple gets to spend a lot of quality time there with their kids. An accent chair inspired by Thomas Heatherwick’s spun chair brings a playful vibe to the surroundings. The wife believes that the current space is ideal for their lifestyle. The house is small enough for them to see their young son and teenage daughter, yet big enough for every family member to have their own privacy.

They wanted to give each of their children their own bedroom and converted the two former master bedrooms with a balcony for their own private space. The wife shares, “The old structure had a garage with a roof. We flattened it into a personal balcony for our kids.”

She jokes that they should have thought about it more because it now makes it easier for the children to leave. The son’s room is the exact replica of the daughter’s, even down to the bathroom size and tiles. For the new master bedroom, the couple combined some spaces but kept the two existing bathrooms to make up the his and hers area. The wife confides that the separate mirrored bathroom set-up worked out pretty well in the end.

Art as Accessories
Enthusiastic art collectors, the couple furnished their home with stunning paintings by National Artist Abdulmari Asia Imao, Nena Saguil, Manuel Baldemor, Lao Lianben and others alongside sculptures by National Artist Arturo Luz, Ramon Orlina and Daniel Dela Cruz. Even with the impressive collection, they like expanding their interest in art to random finds.

In the den, in front of a Prudencio Lamarroza painting, the wife gushes about a local art piece by an unknown artist. She exclaims, “Isn’t this amazing? Look at it from afar. Someone painted Einstein on a set of old encyclopaedias. I don’t even remember who I bought this from, I just chanced upon it in one of the local art fairs.”

Their grandmother gave the couple their first artwork. They decided to collect art when they returned to the Philippines from the States in 2004. The wife shares, “We like unusual items. Some of the items we have here, like the spectacles in the living room and the gourds from New York, were acquired from our travels.”

Interior designer Tessa verified that the owners were not in a hurry so they took their time with the project. Unlike other couples, these homeowners were unfazed by the project and enjoyed the experience. The wife says, “You hear stories of people getting stressed and having headaches over their own homes. We actually look forward to the weekly meetings and loved the process a lot. We had a lot of fun renovating our dream home.”


Photographs by William Ong