7 Design Hacks From This Oriental-Themed Home By Interior Designer Tito Villanueva
If there's a perfect time to do some renovations and upgrades to your home, it's definitely summer. As you spend some time away from the house to go on a vacation with your loved ones, it'd be a great idea to entrust your place to a design expert who will transform it with amazing results worth celebrating when you're all back home.
Scroll down for some interior inspiration from this home project of interior designer Tito Villanueva:
Its massive front doors open into a home that is a pretty straightforward two-storey affair—the living, kitchen and entertaining areas on the ground floor, and the private quarters on the second floor—but its designer Tito Villanueva’s astute understanding and execution of his client’s needs that makes the place special.
“It’s all about client preference. I’m not one of those designers where it’s all a cookie cutter thing. I know a lot of them, and they’re very good. All I’m saying is I’m not a designer who gives the owner a certain look so that you know it’s done by me,” says Tito to introduce his design process.
Comfort over cliché
Upon entering the home, one is greeted with a living room that is designed around an oriental motif. “We started with the Qing jar. Sabi niya, let’s go with blue and white,” Tito relates, sharing how he came up with the sumptuous combinations of beiges accented with mauve, and made more appealing with dashes of patterns in the living areas. Tito has enjoyed a long working relationship with his client, where a level of trust has been established between them. This yielded a pretty basic design brief from his client, who was comforted by the thought that his long-time interior designer collaborator was in charge of this renovation.
Tito says, “Maybe because I did their house and condo before, [the design brief was] more or less the usual ‘I want comfort’… He’s one client who trusts me completely. He just tells me what he needs and how much his budget is, and then he’ll show me what he has. So from there, if he has certain art pieces, I’ll work around it. I’ll work with colors. But I noticed that they like oriental stuff so I tried to incorporate the theme without being cliché.”
And avoid cliché Tito did in the living room, through his addition of a graphic punch to the whole area via a glass accent wall that had been printed with images of antique Chinese blue and white plates, complementing Tito’s hero object, the Qing jar. This wall was an addition, in order to observe the principles of feng shui, where no two doors can be aligned parallel to each other, as this configuration is thought to hasten the flow of energy out of the home, without nourishing its spaces.
Feng shui principles are particular about the alignment of the front door to the back door. It is thought that all the good energy that flows through the front door will rush out of the back door if the front and back door are aligned. A design move was in order to adhere with these feng shui beliefs. Hence, Tito’s clever and stylish solution of establishing a glass wall to demarcate the living area. Otherwise, the front door would have been aligned to the back door leading to the lanai. “This was completely custom-made for me by Pacific Glass. They poured the paint into the glass before it was tempered, making the image permanent,” Tito says.
The living area flows into the dining area. Here, Tito repeats his accent fabrics in the living area by upholstering two chairs with the mauve patterned fabric in order to tie the spaces together. These two spaces illustrate a wealth of design knowledge from Tito, expertise gained through the years, that he imparts as design hacks easily adaptable at home:
1. Group things. Similar objects may be grouped together, or objects that tell a narrative may decorate a space together.
2. If you don’t have many accessories, use books. Use books to create different heights in a vignette.
3. If you have a collection of small things, use a curio cabinet.
4. Always have space in any table. “So that your guests have somewhere to place their glasses, etc. In some homes, you’ll see that they’re always full, and it looks nice, but where do guests put their plates and glasses? Nothing. Not functional,” Tito says.
5. For seating, there is usually 24” clear to sit on. If the sofas are too deep, go for larger throw pillows to prop you up so your legs don’t dangle, and you can sit properly.
6. Deeper sofas are for entertaining rooms where you’d want to put your legs up.
7. It’s all about maintenance. Wipe surfaces, constantly clean and dust in order to keep your finishes looking new. There is no substitute for this kind of regular upkeep.
In the kitchen, Tito took the liberty with color, indulging in a retro mint green scheme, reminiscent of kitchens from the 1960s. “When I’m presented with all the materials that are available now, that’s when I get creative. Immediately, I said, 'I’ll do mint!' Again, most clients will say, ‘Do me a white kitchen, or a beige kitchen.’ They’re afraid of very dark colors. I’m happy with a client who’ll say, ‘Have a go at it.’ They trust that I can do anything. So when I saw the mint, I was compelled to go for it.” He created a peninsula with hanging cabinets above, rendering an open kitchen where the homeowers may perch on the bar to have breakfast or indulge in some banter while they cook. It also serves as a buffet when they entertain.
For the second floor, Tito enjoyed a similar minimal design brief. The master bedroom called for something comfortable, where the clients can rest easy and sleep. Hence, Tito brought shades of his color palette from the living room upstairs, but indulged in darker tones. The entertaining room and the office were treated with the same design moves and reverence for the client’s lifestyle, making this home complete in its stylish functionality.
*This article was originally published in Metro Home & Entertaining magazine.
Photographs by Paola Aseron for Metro Home & Entertaining magazine