Cute cottage


I’ve been cleaning up my iPhoto, making backups of backups and uploading them to Flickr for storage, when I found this album from last year. This is the Antipolo weekend home of Wilmer Lopez and Thor Balanon, the design duo behind the hip home store Space Encounters. We featured both their store and their house in Urban Zone. I thought of sharing it with you because it shows what you can do with a small space using vintage furniture and a lot of creativity. The lot area is around 200 square metres and the floor area is 95 sq m.


Cute little bungalow with a door painted in apple green. They left the concrete un-painted and installed newer windows.


Wilmer, an interior designer, was guided by Scandinavian design principles. While Thor’s love for oriental pop-culture from different eras is reflected all throughout the house. Check out the poster of a Chinese soldier from the 50’s a young Mao Zedong.


Wilmer and Thor scoured second hand shops in search of Danish design finds. The rest of the furniture were reproductions – either sourced abroad or made locally.


Mid-century modern furniture.


I adore furniture appliances. I remember when my parents’ old TV came in the form of a side table. This is a phonograph from the 50’s. When not in use, the top goes down and it becomes a console table.


Chairman Mao lamp made of resin. I ended up buying one at their shop.


There’s a tiny courtyard/lanai adjacent to the dining room. I love that most tropical homes find space for outdoor living. It’s very important in terms of harnessing wind (for cross-ventillation).


Sorry that these are all outtakes from the shoot. I don’t have cleaner shots. But this gives you an idea of how the limited space they had.


They tried to maximize space by using benches (instead of dining chairs), a huge mirror and that built-in cantilevered ledge. Floor to ceiling drapes also give the illusion of a higher ceiling.


Their tiny kitchen gets a boost by having exposed beams instead of an actual ceiling. There’s an opening on one side that allows natural light in. Wilmer used light veneers on the buffet/counter surface. Lights were placed inside the cupboards, lined with frosted glass.


Thor and Wilmer.


Their den-slash-TV room is a dream come true for big boys. They had vintage toys and lots of collectibles. Check out that original Bruce Lee poster written in Vietnamese (?).


One of my favourite movies of all time – E.T. I can watch this over and over (and Wall-E too). I think it’s written in Vietnamese or Khmer, can anyone ID?


GI Joes


And more…


If you like Thor and Wilmer’s taste, check out their store Space Encounters and their new coffee shop Subspace both in Ortigas.



Ligne Roset in Manila



Ligne Roset’s Pebble


A couple of weeks ago I briefly attended the launch of Ligne Roset at Bonifacio High Street. Mawen Ong, owner of Bo Concept and Natuzzi, invited me to see her newest baby. Ligne Roset is housed on the third floor of her BHS building at MOS Design Gallery. It was a rainy day and I was not in the mood to get all dolled up. But I still dropped by because Mawen is such a nice lady. And I’m always up for design events.

Glad I went. Saw beautiful pieces. Ligne Roset is a French luxury brand that works with over 70 celebrated designers, most of whose pieces have won awards globally. Very high quality. And price tag. I didn’t get to ask about the price range. The designs were just beautiful!

In a file interview, Michel Roset, the creative director of the brand, discussed the issue of copies and fakes. “It is true that our designs are copied, but as believers in original design, we are always ahead of the rest and this ensures an excellent image for the company: that it is successful in what it has set out to do, and that it is constantly evolving.”


Ottoman by Noe Lawrance Duchaufour for Ligne Roset


From a culture that’s constantly redefining the art of fine living — from fashion to cuisine, from design to cinema  — comes the latest word on statement furniture: Ligne Roset, the revered French brand of contemporary design, with a storied history in its quest for pushing the envelope in creativity.

From its original home in the artisan towns of eastern France, Ligne Roset brings a 150-year-old tradition of exceptional craftsmanship and design ingenuity to Manila’s living rooms. Ligne Roset comes to the Philippines by way of Mos Design Gallery in Bonifacio High Street, a design gallery that features a global mix of designers — such as Vitra, Tom Dixon and, now, Ligne Roset — as well as a thoughtfully drawn selection of favorite iconic pieces of 20th century. The selection of brands at Mos Design Gallery covers a wide spectrum of different attitudes and sensibilities in contemporary design, and Ligne Roset, with its varied lines of award-winning furniture, is a much-anticipated addition to the design gallery’s top-tier luxury selection.

Source: Ligne Roset press kit


Lines Sideboard by Peter Maly.  A modern minimalist design, Lines features an interlocking grid of broken lines. It also comes in a shelf. And Clouds, an installation by R&E Boroullec.


Another way of using Clouds, designed by Rowan and Erwan Boroullec. “Innovative, sophisticated and colorful tile concept for the home. The tiles can be hung from a wall or ceiling and used as a piece of art or a room divider. They can be arranged in infinite ways and produce a unique three-dimensional effect. Available in two fabrics and seven color combinations with each tile being bicolor.” Photo source: Press Release.


Clouds again. These tiles are growing on me. I’d love to put that in my old antiquey living room. And the sofa and ottoman are called Facett, also by the same designers as Clouds. It is named Facett because the stitching hints at the different facets of a precious stone. Photo source: Press Release.


I walked around the space and found this wall installation that caught my attention. It’s not from Ligne Roset. I think it’s by Juan Alcazaren. I could be wrong. Does anyone here know?


I went closer and found out that those cute lamps were just found plastic objects from home.


Tweetie de Leon-Gonzales, me and Lorraine Belmonte


Mawen Ong and me. I was in need of a haircut then. So I just used bobby pins and purposely went for a messy look. I wore a Comme des Garcons jacket.


Bea Agnir, George Pua and Patrick Reyno


Mary Go, Kathy Go and Felicia Atienza


Mos Design Gallery
3rd level Mos Design
B2 Bonifacio High Street
Fort Taguig City.



Casa Roces




A couple of weeks ago, we shot Urban Zone at this “new” restaurant called Casa Roces. My producers told me it was near Malacanang. They said it was an old Legarda house. I had to double check to ask if they were referring to Cocina de Tita Moning, which is known as the Legarda mansion. I’ve eaten there too many times. It’s a place you have to go fasting for before eating there.

Well, it was a pleasant surprise to see another house, also within the Malacanang neighbourhood. This one has a view of the Palace gates. It is literally across the street from the palace. The entire house was recently renovated to be converted into a restaurant and cafe. I interviewed the architect of the renovation, Tina Bonoan. It’s amazing that they respected the integrity of the structure but gave the place all the comforts of contemporary living.

The cafe is named Cape Chino after Don Chino Roces. Everywhere in the house there are reminders of the family’s heritage – prints of La Vanguardia and the old Manila Times news papers, photos and memorabilia from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. I ran into Peachy Prieto who runs the business and she told me the story of the house, which her great aunt lived in. I forget the details of how the Prietos, Legardas, Roceses and all are related. Basta they are. Peachy pointed out that this wasn’t a mansion. It was just a regular house built in Commonwealth style. I thought it was gorgeous.

The restaurant is run and managed by the Cravings group. I enjoyed my meal. But please do not expect a full blown food review. You know me and food.

This post is picture-heavy so I split it. Please click on “Read more” to read more…


The gate of Casa Roces is right across the gate of Malacanang.


Interviewing the architect of the renovation/restoration Tina Bonoan. It is a perfect example of adaptive re-use. The main entrance of the house used to be off to the side (left photo). This is now the valet drop-off. Pedestrian guests can enter through the garden side, which Tina opened up to give a more dramatic entrance. They also knocked down walls in exchange for tempered glass picture windows. There’s a big Impy Pilapil sculpture and water feature out front.


The old foyer of the old entrance. Tina barely touched the layout of the great hallway. She just painted the walls and lined parts of the ceiling with pages from the old newspapers of Chino Roces.


The garden-side of the house, which faces Malacanang, has been opened up with sliding doors and a beautiful wooden deck.


Furniture came from the personal collection of the Legardas, Roces and Prietos. I love the mishmash of styles and periods.


The door to the cafe may look familiar to those who’ve been to Morita’s years ago. Morita is also a member of the clan.


The cafe reception is actually an extension from the original structure. It also opens up to a cozy outdoor bar with stone tables. Tina displayed memorabilia from the family. I love how un-stuffy the antiques look. Credit that to the chic/contemporary shelves painted in sunny yellow.


Everything here is original. The wood was just refinished. I love long curtains that drape and gather over the floor. It’s the only way to do drapes. I’m loving the light that comes through in this stairwell. The upper floor has private function rooms.


This is the terrace over the driveway of the old main entrance. Most old homes kept this as an outdoor balcony or smoking area. It was like a sunroom for the old family. Tina converted it to a private dining hall.


Original machuca tiles. This was one of my favourite rooms.


I loved that old homes had generous windows and huge eaves. Lots of natural light came in but no direct sunlight to make the rooms a living hell. I hope new architects never forget how our old homes were built. There’s so much wisdom in the bahay kubo, bahay na bato and their types.

Theres more…

Click to see the rest of the story

Beware of fake Daphne chairs




It has been brought to my attention that there is a furniture maker and retailer that claims to be an authorized seller and maker of my Daphne chairs (particularly the ones in the photo).


1. Daphne Furniture® is sold at Rustan’s Makati. This particular design retails for P15,000.

2. All Daphne Furniture® bears a brass plate with my brand’s name on it. Those without the brass plates are fakes.

3. Another outlet that carries Daphne Furniture® is La Brea in LRI Design Centre, Reposo Street. Heima in LRI also has a few Daphne® chairs (same as above) though I’m not sure they still have any in stock.

4. Daphne Furniture® is not sold online. Should you be interested in purchasing from overseas, my partners can make arrangements. You can email

5. Daphne Furniture® is made by a top Filipino furniture manufacturer with decades of experience in manufacturing and export. My partners are well-respected in the furniture industry with all the necessary certification and accreditation. They are alarmed by this development and have reported it to proper authorities.

6. The “®” in my brand means that it is a licensed trademark. Anyone who uses it without my authorization (or misuses it) can and will be sued.

7. Liars will go to hell.



Wanted: New kitchen



I’ve been talking about this for years. I’ve met so many people – designers, suppliers, architects – about redoing our kitchen. We’ve already renovated all the bathrooms, bedrooms and the downstairs living areas. I’m a veteran of renovations. We’ve lived through the inconveniences of construction – that includes delays, going over budget and negligent contractors. It is stressful. This is perhaps the reason why I kept putting off renovating our kitchen. But I can’t wait anymore.

Last week I started on the project again. I now have a clearer vision of what I want for my kitchen. It’s a small space. I want it to be completely functional and not just “for show.” I want the best material but I’m not hung up on brand names. I also want it to fit in with the character of our house – old, charming and Filipino-meets-the-Hamptons sort of feel. I only say the Hamptons because we have a cottage-like environment. I do not take themes literally. So the same will go for our kitchen.

Just to give you an idea of the character of the house…


Funny, when Rafael Calero of Kitchen Studio was talking me into hardwood floors for the kitchen he said “Wouldn’t you want to walk around barefoot in your house?” Uhm, yeah. We do that everyday. It’s not like shoes aren’t allowed. Its just that wood feels great on bare feet. All my babies learned how to walk barefoot on wooden floors. This photo was taken by Cyrus Panganiban for Celebrity Living, makeup by Carmel Villongco.


A mix of old and new downstairs. We don’t have a shortage in heirloom pieces, LOL.


The first thing I did when I moved in to this house was paint the front door red and tile the old kitchen in diagonal checkerboard pattern. All the cupboards and countertops are made of hard wood. Beautiful but in desperate need of repair/replacement.


So here’s what we’re working on. White semi-distressed wooden cupboards, farm house sink, black counter top, gunmetal grey/black hardware, white Bisazza back splash in some areas and dark or walnut hardwood floors. Yes, I’m taking the plunge. We’re going for wood floors in the kitchen. It’ll be treated ofcourse, since the area will get moisture. I’m also thinking of an oiled finish. I’m still in the process of sourcing suppliers.


And here’s my ambitious peg. It’s from a page in the Ikea catalog. Unfortunately my kitchen isn’t this big, so we will have to do something about extra storage. But check out those floors!


I’m also thinking of increasing the space by exposing the beams above.


Rafael also wants me to invest in a lighting designer but I don’t really have budget for that. So let’s see… Lighting design is really important though.


Now I’m really focusing on this. No distractions.