This Modern Minimalist House Exemplifies Italian-Japanese Aesthetic
You immediately feel a homey atmosphere upon entering Irene Enriquez’s residence. It’s sort of a lived-in quality, where you feel at ease, but at the same time awed for you can intuit that every inch and square meter of the place is well thought of. No frivolous additions or superficial elements are apparent. Every design element, from the foyer to the upper deck, has a synergistic quality to it. The house is a thesis of great design.
This home of a real estate developer and interior design expert has a very distinctive Japanese-Italian design. No space wasted, every inch, thoughtfully designed to have a function, while being pleasing to the eyes at the same time is a very Japanese minimalist trait. The interiors has a smattering of colors that break the monochromatic theme of the Eastern-inspired interiors, which is an Italian design aesthetic. The Enriquez house is an exemplar of the skills and masterful design taste of the owner. She has effectively fused Eastern and Western design elements, a difficult endeavor, to be sure.
Located outside of the madding Manila metropolis in Cavite, the property is in a corner street of a tree-lined subdivision. The peace and serenity is palpable even before you enter the house, a fitting location for a property that exemplifies the serene aesthetics of Japanese design.
Outside, one sees the playful interaction of concrete, glass, and wood. The structure has three floors, and a total of 1,000 sq.m. in usable space, spread in three floors. The house sits in a 500-sq.m. lot, and has five bedrooms, a spacious living room, a fully modern kitchen, and a lovely outdoor area.
Simple whitewashed walls are the dominant exterior features of the house; the white colors are playfully broken by wooden doors and walls, tastefully placed outside to break the monotony of the monochromatic colors of the house, positively international moderne in appearance, but heavily flavored with Japanese minimalism as well.
The interiors have the same story as the outside design. When you enter the house, the synergy between Eastern and Western minimalist design becomes apparent. The foyer is filled with curios and knickknacks accumulated from Enriquez’s travels. The designer endeavors to fill the house with memories from her journeys.
A black console table breaks the monotony of the whitewashed walls of the foyer. The table is designed like a trellis, a framework of light wooden bars. The zebra skin rug on the floor welcomes you to the home as well, a most Italian design aesthetic. A door leading to the guest bedroom is located in the foyer.
The living room is dominated by neutral, muted colors. The sofa is in off-white, but two chairs are colored black, broken by linings of gaudy colors, again a synergy of design elements from the East and West.
An artwork from a Thai artist is the focus of the living room, while various books, trinkets, and other curiosities line the shelves. An orchid on the coffee table lends a dignified beauty to the living room, a masterful addition by the owner.
Colorful Dining Area
The dining area is adjacent to the living room, and is separated by a thin column, which also houses the lights and air-conditioning control panels. The dining area is decidedly more colorful than the living room, a stark contrast that gives the interiors a fresh, lively feel to it. Dominating the dining area is the massive, black 12-seater dining table, which is paired with off-white chairs, and a brown, rough textured rug. Looming above the dining table is a massive wooden trellis, a Japanese minimalist design addition.
The table centerpiece is a long tray of green succulents, a beautiful break from the dark color of the table. The dinnerware also features dark colors, but the monochromatic color is broken by the colorful geometric designs of the items. Enriquez again shows her masterful use of pairings and contrast. Synergy, indeed.
Decidedly Modern Kitchen
The kitchen is decidedly moderne, with white countertops, a breakfast bar, intuitive storage cabinets, and modern appliances. The definite highlight of the kitchen is the dumbwaiter, with which one can send food easily to all floors of the house. Enriquez playfully shares that the dumbwaiter is also accessible through the master bedroom, perfect for late night snacks, or when you’re just too lazy to go down for your food.
The powder room is also located in the kitchen area. Here, the room is dominated by a huge mirror, and adjacent to it, a wall patterned with geometric designs. The designs are intuitively back-lit, giving the powder room an ambiance that can rival even the poshest hotels in the metro.
The second floor of the house is dominated by the family room. Beside the second floor living area, in a corner, is a cozy looking canopy chair, paired with a wire coffee table with a dark wooden top; the space is perfect for reading, catching a quick nap, or browsing the Web with your tablet.
The main family area mirrors the design aesthetic of the living room downstairs, with muted, neutral colors and a cozy gray sofa. At the other end is another canopy chair, making the duo silent, dark colored sentries to the family space. Open windows dominate the family area, bathing the space with natural light. Sheer white curtains lend a light and relaxed atmosphere to the space.
In the second floor hallway, you see once again the familiar wooden bars, this time arranged vertically. The trellis hides the home office, serving as an intuitive divide from the family area to the workspace.
The second floor also houses three bedrooms, all serving as a thesis to the design belief of the house with its wooden highlights, muted colors, white curtains, and windows that let in natural light.
A stairway from the second floor leads into the master bedroom, which features a black and white rug with alternating chevron designs. The bed is luxurious in its muted colors, complemented by a black console table on both sides. The aforementioned dumbwaiter is a unique addition to the bedroom. House staff can send food to the master bedroom straight from the kitchen, perfect for rainy days when the lady of the house does not feel like going down to the dining area. After all, the spacious sitting area in the master bedroom can serve as a small dining area.
The master bathroom is particularly luxurious, with its all-glass shower stall and spacious bathtub. A flat screen TV hovers above the tub, perfect for a relaxing TV viewing while soaking in the bath. A walk-in-closet completes the premium feel of the space.
The definite pièce de résistance of the Enriquez house is the outdoor area, which features an upper and lower deck. The lower deck is dominated by a gray ironwork frame, slightly mirroring the trellis profile of the wooden bars inside the house. The lower deck is filled with greenery, which definitely relaxes the eyes. Black tables, chairs, and planters are a perfect foil for all the green colors. In another corner are two sofas and two chairs, the perfect place to relax with friends and enjoy the clean provincial breeze.
The upper deck houses the Zen garden. Tastefully done to recreate the popular garden style in Japan, the upper deck is serene in its greenery, broken only by the white pebble island in the middle. The upper deck, Irene Enriquez’s favorite space in the house, is the perfect spot to meditate and rest. The outdoor area, with the Zen garden at the top and the moderne lower deck below, is the perfect representation of the house, and its aesthetics. Here, East meets West indeed.
Photographs by Paola Aseron