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A Traditional Fil-Hispanic Property Gets an Urban Update



Built in the '90s, the predominantly traditional Fil-Hispanic property called for some modernization. “I had to change the windows, streamline the look from outside. We removed a lot of curved design elements, but I still wanted a little bit of old world touches,” the lady of the house, Ruth Ventura, explains. The result was a traditional-contemporary look.


The Grand Old Staircase

“At the heart of this whole renovation is the stairs, which was the most imposing part that we had to take out,” Dominguez reveals. The grand old winding staircase was replaced with an avant garde structure of floating stair treads and glass banister, which ends in a see-through landing at the second level. “It allows the light through,” explains Ventura. A red translucent polycarbonate partition makes the hallway seem even more spacious. The pop of color was husband Ronald’s special request.

Illumination is further maximized by incorporating glass transoms to top the bedroom walls. The layout of the master bedroom is very practical. The dressing room takes up most of the space. “If you’re changing at the same time, you don’t want to be bumping into each other,” Ventura justifies. A cast iron bench with dog details and upholstered in leopard print fabric cuts through the stark ambiance. “That’s my favorite; it doesn’t look it, but it’s super comfortable,” she says.

The bathroom makes a statement with its black and white tiles. Underneath the pair of sinks is an old wooden cabinet augmented with customized shelves and pull-out bottle racks. Ventura delightedly points to the glass knobs. “I enjoyed shopping for those!”

The sleeping area is just enough to accommodate the Philux custom-made bed for two and a reading nook. A television is noticeably missing from the grayish mauve walls. “This way, we don’t hang out in the room too much, and we are encouraged to step out and do things together as a family,” rationalizes the mother of three.


The ‘Man Cave’

The game room (or what the children fondly refer to as the “man cave”) in the attic is where a lot of the fun happens, like table hockey games and watching UAAP matches. The high chairs lend a bar vibe and allow a view through the pendant lights, 30-feet down. The walls are of the same Vigan bricks that make up the façade of the home.

“They are antique, sourced from old houses and churches in Ilocos,” volunteers Ventura. Vigan is also the origin of the tiles in the lanai. A favorite of guests, the spot is occupied by an antique set from China, a refurbished vintage daybed, and sets of marble and cast iron tables and wooden chairs salvaged from a friend’s business. “It’s like a café at night, so people like to hang out,” shares Ventura, who marvels at having as many as thirty people at one time.

The family entertains around thrice a month, and visitors move freely between the lanai and the living room. There is also quick access from the lanai to the kitchen.“This place started out with the floors,” explains Ventura, visibly proud of the black and white machuca tiles that inspired the installation of the black cupboards and the black chairs of the breakfast nook. “Sometimes I try to cook, but I’m not there yet, that’s why the kitchen is small, it’s not a priority,” Ventura candidly admits with a laugh.

Quite masculine-looking, the living room features low, mid-century furniture with fabrics in gray, blue and pinstripes. This atmosphere extends to the dining section. A wooden cabinet and chairs from her husband’s grandparents’ house provide hints of local flavor.

“The chairs are from the 1950s, they don’t match, but they havethe same lines. The wood was hidden underneath four layers of paint,” reveals Ventura, who then proceeds to narrate how she worked on the chairs herself, participating in stripping the paint, applying wood sealer and antique waxing. Paintings by Mia Herbosa, Renato Borja and Martin Honasan adorn the walls.


The Drama is All Me’

Ventura’s girlish leaning is stamped all over the music room, where you can find a grand piano, a guitar and a violin. Their children Ynez, Sancho and Joaquinito are all musically inclined so it is not uncommon to hear them jamming.

“You have the black walls, the aubergine sofa, oversized furniture, curved chairs, damask, the drama, it’s all me,” chuckles Ventura. She demonstrates how heavy the center table is by trying to nudge it. The repurposed bed has black stone slabs incorporated into the wood. Several pieces in the room are from Old Asia, which was ran by her sister-in-law. “My house is prettiest at night, the lighting totally transforms it. It’s like going to the Alhambra, you have to see it in the morning and at night,” she says while adjusting the overhead glow.

As we basked in the shift in mood, she steers our attention to the cornices on the ceiling. “I only realized halfway through construction that they’re different throughout the house. We have scallops, egg and dart motifs, and acanthus leaves, which I actually love because there’s always something new to see. You come here and you don’t notice it the first time. The next time, you’ll see another new element in the architectural details. They reveal another layer of the house so the longer you’re here…,” she trails off, and then finishes her sentence with a broad smile, clearly proud of how her home has turned out.


Photographs by Aldwin Aspillera