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Treasured Objects And Artworks Make This 70s House A 21st Century Contemporary Home

"I’ve always liked old things,” the lady of the house declares. “We were lucky with this home. It’s a Coscolluela from the ’70s and there were some really good bones, like the floor and the beautiful layout. But some things really had to go, like the tiles in the kitchen! An old home has layers, and some are good but some are not!” She recalls this last detail with a laugh. And she says, “But in some ways, it also felt a bit like a box. So we opened up the house a bit. I wanted to orient everything towards the garden, I wanted all the rooms to have a view of the garden. So this isn’t really a big house but when my family and I are all together at home, we feel as if we’re in a resort.”


How many wonders can one cavern hold? A fearless mix of colors, textures, eras, and genres adds up to a living room that is personal and passion-filled. 


That light and breezy feeling of being on a holiday is immediately palpable when entering the home. Though it is a house full of art and treasured objects, its overall vibe is of a well-loved family home. An eminent decorator once quipped that coziness is the most difficult effect to achieve, and this home is clearly conducive to long and friendly conversations and lunches that last till merienda.


Fabulous foyer. The lady of the house juxtaposed antiques with powerful contemporary art for an indelible impression as one enters her home. 


Of course, she did get some help. She turned to architect Lara Barrios to handle the renovations. “We added some newer touches like the glass doors, and we did push out the walls a little, especially in the kitchen. At first, my husband couldn’t understand why we had to change the layout of the kitchen. But it was so closed in and it didn’t even have a window. And it was very important to me that it would house my collection of cookbooks! I’ve lost count but I just might have hundreds. I really used to cook and bake a lot but now all that reminds me of work (she is in the restaurant business). So the last thing in the world I want to do when I get home is cook! But I still wanted the kitchen to be nice place to hang out in, and when my friends do come over, they do say they like my kitchen.”


A meeting of minds, a marriage of opposites. Graceful chairs with intricate wood inlays provide the classic contrast with the geometric and streamlined dining table. 


A quick tour of her home shows the story of her life and of her family. A big part of the charm of her home is her art collection. “I started collecting art even before I got married. At first, you just want some things to hang on your wall. And then, you see more and more things that you like. When you look at the art (that we have), you can see that everything is there! From abstract to figurative to everything in between. The truth is that, even after all these years, I still can’t say what makes me love an artwork. I just know if it’s for me! Of course, my taste has changed and evolved through the years, but I just can’t put my finger on what I respond to. But it’s a good thing that some of the pieces that I got from before did appreciate in value!” And she smiles again, and it is easy to see that not only is she proud of her home, she loves everything in it.


Scenes from an idyll. Rural scenes and classic Filipino motifs meet stronger ethnic flair. 


“When I travel, I make sure that I will get something for the home. When I went to Morocco, I got lamps and carpets, that’s what they’re known for. On a recent trip to Russia, I fell in love with some teacups in the shop of the Hermitage Museum. It has that red that we all associate with Russia, with some gold on the edge that just looks so rich. Actually, I also love anything that has to do with creating table settings.” Though she hasn’t really entertained as much as she would want to, she is gratified that her friends enjoy all the efforts she has put into her home.



“Some of them say, ‘I can’t believe you did this all by yourself!’ But I did! I really didn’t buy much for this home, but pretty much worked with pieces that I’ve had for years.” And so her labor of love truly reflects her personality and the deep family ties that give her strength and joy.


Fit for a feast. Serious art and touches of whimsy make this dining room a visual indulgence as well as a dynamic and intensely colorful space to create new memories and look back on long-gone good times. 


“My rule of thumb is that a room should look as though it couldn’t have existed any other way. I consider this room my jigsaw puzzle of objects of the world. They’re brought together to fit in complete harmony,” wrote the esteemed and unmatched Jeremiah Goodman, the most famous illustrator of interiors. This home follows the famous artist’s dictum. Though certain elements have been refurbished and refreshed, what really radiates is the narrative behind the home, the story of a life richly and fully lived.



This article was originally published in Metro Society March 2019 issue.

Photographs by Paul Del Rosario