Two houses under one roof


Last Friday July 29, we showed this beautiful home in Urban Zone. It is one of the best-designed new homes I’ve seen. The architect and interior designer is Dan Lichauco, amazing amazing talent. There are two houses in this property — the mother’s house and the daughter’s family home. Both houses function separately but are connected in the middle by a formal dining room. The character of the two homes couldn’t be more different from each other. If I didn’t tell you they were under one roof, you’d never guess they were inside one structure.

The property is huge. The family had lived here for many years but opted to build a brand new home to go with a new phase in their lives. So the old house was knocked down to make way for this new one. Interesting that the residents opted for a bungalow instead of multi-level monster home. Let me show you the mom’s pad first then click on the jump below to see how the daughter created her own unique cosmopolitan space.


The living room of the first house. The mom kept a lot of her old furniture. Dan gave them a different feel by giving the wood a darker stain. They wanted to maintain an old-world feel that was a mix of colonial formality and tropical living.


All the rooms in both homes open up to the garden and swimming pool so there’s a lot of natural light.


The inner sitting room with reworked furniture. To give the wooden coffee table a more “European” feel, Dan added a marble table top. I’m loving all those shutter blinds.


Philippine art and a contemporary colonial setting.


Must have fresh flowers whenever you can.


Stunning main door with carved wood and brass art by National Artist for sculpture, Imao.


Detail of the main door and another look at the very sunny living room.


A stunning master bedroom with very high ceiling.


Loved this bathroom.


Pretty bathroom that reminded me of my own bathroom at home except that this is more glam and luxe. I used an antique mirror.


The lady of the house loves to cook. She asked Dan to create a kitchen that was open to the living and dining rooms.


Again, old furniture given new life by upholstery, marble surfaces, and new stain.


The dining area opens to this hallway which is the one that connects the first house to the second house by way of a sliding door.


Both houses are connected by a narrow hallway and this dramatic formal dining room.


The second house is so different but just as stunning.


Click here to see the second house




In a few weeks, I’ll be going on a short trip to India. I’ll be with a small group together with my good friend Ingrid. I have always wanted go. And so has Patrick. But we have this thing about not leaving the children alone. So we only either travel with them or bring them to my folks (in Canada) then jet off somewhere. Neither option is possible. So it’ll just be me. It’s hard not to have any family around.

Last year, my sister in law Isabelle, who lives in New York, went by herself. She came back with lots of woodblock print fabric, great photos and 7 pounds shed off (thanks to her North American tummy and the Indian diet). I plan to do the same thing, including the weight loss. Good luck to me.


Isabelle in India, December 2010


I have featured Isabelle’s New York apartment in my livejournal blog many times. Isabelle is in the design industry in Manhattan. She’s exposed to architecture and interior design even on the trade level. So she knows where to get anything. Her place is gorgeous and always evolving. (I’ll post links to her apartment if and when livejournal goes up again. It’s currently under attack once more.) Her current phase is, naturally, India. Look at how she worked Indian fabric into her very chic Manhattan apartment.


The bolster pillow is from Suzani. Though it looks it, it’s technically not Indian.


The chest is made of pressed or hammered tin, made in India but bought in NYC.


Her two old French chairs got reupholstered using Indian wood block print fabric on “katcha” found in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.  She says it wasn’t cheap there but she still went for it. Interesting mix of the luxury of a gilded french bergere paired with something humble. (Note: San Miguel de Allende is a fabulous place in Mexico. I’ve been there before I reconnected with the Philippines and it quenched my thirst for something local and artsy/crafty.)


From another angle.


“I’ve gone Indian in my bedroom. I hand stitched the curtains myself.” — Isabelle


Here’s how the lovely prints look like with backlighting.


Indian woodblock print sheets paired with headboard draped in an embroidered blanket she got in Mexico City.


She changes the look of her headboard by simply draping white cutout fabric from India. “Nothing fancy,” says Isabelle. “I lugged that quilt through 4 international airports. They were so inexpensive. It was hard to choose at the factory. No two patterns were alike.”


I love the mixing of different prints.


Indian woodblock printing factories, here I come.



Two major LV stores to be opened in Asia


This just in from our friends in Louis Vuitton Philippines. They seem to know that I love design stories. Here’s a preview of how two LV stores will look like when they open later this year. The first is at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore and the other one is the re-opening of our LV store in Greenbelt 4.


Singapore, Louis Vuitton Island Maison

Singapore will welcome a new luxury shopping destination and retail icon when Louis Vuitton opens its first Island Maison at the Marina Bay Sands in September of this year. The Maison will sit on the waterfront of the Marina Bay promenade and will be a distinctive landmark in the celebrated landscape around the bay.

The Louis Vuitton Island Maison is a one of a kind concept for the luxury brand, and will feature nautical- inspired interiors exclusively designed by internationally acclaimed and award winning architect Peter Marino. Visitors can look forward to a unique and sophisticated retail experience as the first Louis Vuitton Maison in Southeast Asia will incorporate art and cultural elements in its retail space.


Louis Vuitton Island Maison at Marina Bay Sands


The ground floor of the Island Maison will feature the complete selection of men’s and women’s leather goods, ready to wear, shoes and accessories. Keeping close to the brand’s DNA where the desire is to transform every journey into a refined and personal experience, the mezzanine level will celebrate the romance of travel by dedicating an area to travel luggage and accessories in the first Travel Room in Asia Pacific. There will also be a private lounge for intimate presentations as well as an outdoor loggia reminiscent of a deck on a luxury yacht.

From the island, visitors can travel through a tunnel that will showcase pieces of contemporary artwork. The tunnel connects to the Marina Bay Sands mall and visitors will arrive at the Louis Vuitton bookstore, where they can browse through a specially curated range of design, cultural and art books. A spiral staircase on the same floor will lead visitors up to a magnified space which will display timepieces, fine jewellery and exceptional leather bags.

The Louis Vuitton Island Maison at Marina Bay Sands will be the fifth store for the brand in Singapore and opens to the public on 18 September 2011.



Philippines, Louis Vuitton Greenbelt 4

Louis Vuitton is proud to announce the reopening of its store at Greenbelt 4 this October after an intensive expansion and renovation program. First opened in 2003 on Makati Avenue, the Louis Vuitton store has always been one of the most popular anchor brands of the premier shopping arcade in Makati.

Today, this expansion re-affirms the Malletier’s confidence in the Philippine retail market. Featuring a uniquely conceived façade inspired by the brand’s signature Damier pattern, the new store is a testament to Vuitton’s spirit of combining innovative retail concepts with the tradition of savoir-faire and travel legacy.


Louis Vuitton, Greenbelt 4


The new store will be transformed into a 2-level luxury retail space. The store’s main entrance opens up into an intimate travel area on the left and an expansive leather goods bar to the right. A few short steps lead you up to the mezzanine floor where a dedicated Men’s Area is located. The main staircase takes you down to the Women’s Universe featuring a vast array of leather goods, shoes, and accessories. An entire wall showcases Rare & Exceptional pieces on this lower floor.

Aside from a special room dedicated to after-sales services, a highlight of the new store will be the unique and luxurious VIP salon, offering the ultimate personal and luxurious shopping experience.

The Louis Vuitton boutique at Greenbelt 4 re-opens on October 15, 2011.




One Shangri-la Place Ortigas




Everytime I see a new condo go up – as in see it from scaffolding to construction to the finished product- I always ask my husband, what if we bought that at pre-selling price, we’d have a nice condo now? Then he tells me, “We’re not condo people.” We live in a house that we love, imperfections and all. The only thing we really wish for is more space without having to move. So that’s on our wish list. Meanwhile because our wish is not yet on the market, we’ve bought some land here and there. We have no plans of moving any time soon, just dreams of someday building a home in the countryside or by the beach. We like to dream. Sometimes we play, “what if…” And we always come across the question, “What if we bought a condo, would we choose Makati? Fort? Manila Bay? or Ortigas?” The scenarios we come up with can get crazy.

Real estate is all about location. That famous quote, “location, location, location.” I aced geography in high school and ended up studying urban planning in university. Up to now, I still hear that quote with every real estate developer I talk to. You get the gist. Of course there are other equally-important factors such as the developer’s track record, property management and design.

Last month I was invited to lunch by Shang Properties to introduce me to their new development One Shangri-la Place in Ortigas. I have to be honest, I haven’t been to Shangri-la Plaza in over a year. I’m a southerner remember? I was wondering where this new project was. I was only familiar with The St Francis right beside Shangri-la Plaza. So I was really surprised to see that the project they were about to introduce to me was actually already being constructed. And in terms of location, this one is right smack in the middle of Shangri-la’s cluster of luxury developments.

Here are some photos from their press kit. Quotes from press kit are in bold :


One Shangri-la Place is located between the mall and the hotel where the outdoor parking used to be.


Imagine living here.


To give you an idea of where exactly it is, here’s a map. One Shangrila Place Ortigas is at he center of Shangri-La Place Complex.


One Shangri-La Place will exude the details of luxury living in an urban, cosmopolitan setting. This 60-storey twin tower residential condominium will soon rise at the gateway of the 8.5-hectare Shangri-La integrated community, located at the Ortigas Center business district.

Designed by Palmer and Turner Hong Kong in collaboration with Casas Architects, this new building will capture the best of both worlds – 5-star living and the warmth of home. Over 1,300 residential units will be located atop the six-level retail podium of the Shangri-La expansion, which will have 150 upscale retail and dining options, and is right across the five-star EDSA Shangri-La, Manila, with its world-class Chi, the Spa at Shangri-La.

Recently, One Shangri-La Place unveiled the show suite at Level 1 of Shangri-La Plaza mall. Designed by BTR Hong Kong, the interiors are a mix of several opposing symbolisms – solidity, lightness, coziness, modernity, warmth, and freshness – which when combined, are in fact, complementary. The interior designers said that this is a paradigm that seems to shorten the distance between dreams and achievements, an antidote to the boredom of traditional houses.

As guests enter the showroom, they are greeted by Nero peppering granite walls overlaid with off white silhouette blinds in varying heights and widths. The long central “catwalk” is made of engineered wood flanked by glossy black stone; while the entrance speaks of its own identity, the harmonious space is balanced with richness and luxury.


Residents will take pleasure in the spacious and exquisitely crafted interior design of the unit, complemented by the sleek clean lines of the custom made furnishings and the luxurious feel of the imported European fabrics.


The beech engineered flooring in neutral monochromatic colors complements the wall panels in Santorini veneer and the living room accent wall tiled in limestone in varying depths and dimensions. A painting dominates one end of the room. Behind the kitchen is the maid’s room with a built-in wall-mounted bed, as well as the maid’s bathroom.


The floor-to-ceiling windows in the master’s bedroom show feature cityscapes, as well as a roomy walk0in closet with open fully veneered shelves, panels and cabinets with back lighting, which gives it a neat and efficient look.


The suite’s master’s bath features stone tile flooring accentuated with decorative laminates and elegant fixtures from Toto, his and hers sinks, and a tub and rain shower. Off topic, but this is the part in my show where I say, “secret to a happy marriage… separate lavatories.” It’s a luxury to have this in a condo.


The second bedroom, which can be used as a guest room or den, features cabinets paneled in white leather and an accent wall in a shimmery fabric. A separate toilet and bath also serves as the guest powder room.


The project’s amenities reflect the luxury lifestyle: adult and children’s swimming pools, Jacuzzi, spa, steam room, massage and sauna, karaoke, male and female shower changing rooms, function rooms, children’s play area, gym, fitness rooms, aerobics center, and game rooms.


To know more about the project, check the official website of One Shangri-la Place. Or visit the show suite at Level 1 of Shangri-la Plaza mall.



House of Buck Sia


This house was shown in UZ a couple of weeks ago. Designed and built by Buck Richnold Sia, a young architect based in Cebu. This is Buck’s own house. He lives here with his wife Dulce. I met Buck through the Creative Cities program of the British Council. I like his way of thinking and how he translates his ideas into real space. I don’t know what it is about Cebu and modern architecture, but it seems abundant there. So much talent.

Buck’s firm, Zubu Design Associates, is committed to the pursuit of Progressive Architecture. “Architecture that is up to the times; to say the least, modern.” More photos and plans from his website.

This house is very interesting, not only because of its modernity, but also because it is built on a very limited space. The lot area is only 145 square metres. The floor area of the house is 150 sqm. He was able to put in three bedrooms, a den, and 2.5 toilets and bathrooms all in two storeys. In Buck’s on words:

This house attempts a more international style with planes creatively stacked. It also mixes color and texture with the massing and planes. The eastern wall with the firewall connects with the clerestory canopy that creates the 1st of the many elements. The flat roof and canopies create a horizontal effect that sandwiches the yellow plane. That plane with it, also the frontmost of all the elevations, is flanked at the side with the louver enclosed glass panels and the rust-effect tiled wall. The interior also feels the linearity of the space, with the cantilevered stairs as the backdrop.