Urban Zone kitchens



Wow our kitchen cabinets are delivered and being installed.
This is exciting. Our kitchen cabinets from Kitchen Studio got delivered today. The contractor is starting to piece things together. I’m dying to share the step-by-step process. But I don’t have enough photos yet. And currently our Matwood wooden floors were mistakenly made too shiny – something to do with the sealant applied by the contractor. So I will wait til the right surface and texture is achieved. I’m also in a panic because I put off ordering my windows. I haven’t even found a supplier yet. Gosh. Who has the time? Haha.


Meanwhile let’s have a look back at some of the most memorable kitchens I featured in Urban Zone. This one is at Mitch and Shelley Shivers’ home. I love the stainless steel everything.


House of Mitch and Shelly Shivers
This house was small. They really used the space efficiently. The kitchen was visible from the entire house, so they kept everything in its place. In order to save on energy costs, they placed a generous skylight window over the back counter to provide natural light during the day.


This house in San Juan had a big square kitchen with a huge island counter in the middle. I’m a fan of natural light. And their clerestory windows provided lots of it.


The pantry was back lit and visible from the kitchen through the sliding glass doors.


The space was even lovelier because of the Vigan bricks that lined the outside walls. This walkout lanai was the perfect spot for a breakfast table.


Owner designed this kitchen
The owners of this kitchen are in the baking business so they knew exactly how they wanted their home kitchen to function. They raised all the drawers on legs for hygienic reasons so that they could have every corner of the floor cleaned every night.


Owner designed this kitchen
You can see the kitchen legs better here. I also liked that one of the sections of the stainless steel counter top opened to reveal a dish dryer beneath.


This is the kitchen of Mike Pena (architect). The kitchen island doubles up as their daily dining table.


Beautiful carpentry in this kitchen
Beautiful carpentry in this kitchen designed by Dominic Galicia (architect).


Charisse Tinio’s brand new kitchen.


A modern modular kitchen in an Alex Co home.


A small kitchen in a bungalow designed by Dan Lichauco (architect). Curious about your thoughts on induction cookers. Please share.


Here’s what it looks like from another view. I love that it’s not just for show!


Interesting wood-effect tiles in this kitchen designed by Tania Lichauco. I considered wood-looking tiles on my kitchen but I had concerns about weight because my kitchen is technically on stilts in the second floor.


A little bit country. Designed by Frenjick Quesada (interior designer).


This was at my cousin Joan’s condo. Space was an issue. So the designer, Tito Villanueva used tricks like transparent furniture to reduce the bulk. One side of the wall also converts into a folding bed for the helper.


Sorry for the blur. This was the perfect kitchen at that stunning house by Luigi Bernaro. It was the awesome because it was a real working kitchen. The appliances and fixtures were of industrial quality. (In case anyone wonders why I mention “working” kitchens, that’s because in the Philippines a lot of homes have a secondary kitchen called “dirty kitchen”.)


Benitez House
The Benitez house was patterned after a Spanish colonial home in Vigan. The kitchen reflects the same old world feel.


I have a gazillion more kitchen and rooms previously featured in Urban Zone. I shall try to group them in to a story. Meanwhile we are about six weeks into renovations. I still need to source some suppliers to complete this enormous task. The house continues to look like backstage..



Our kitchen project



Major things are happening. We finally decided to push thru with the kitchen renovation. It has been planned for years. And honestly, the only reason it took this long was because I’m a major procrastinator. I figured, I’ll never be ready to temporarily relocate our kitchen while renovations were ongoing, so might as well do it now. As a result our current kitchen is scattered between three parts of the house, including the garage.

My last post about this project is here (almost a year ago). We are keeping the plans with some minor tweaking. I’ve decided to expose the beams of the roof. And the most major decision… wooden floors. Yes, we’re okay with scratches and spills.

I will be documenting the process. This is just a little peek into the project.


Kitchen renovation started today. It's going to be crazy but beautiful (I hope).
Demolition started last week. This part of the house is neatly boarded up.


Goodbye pretty antique glass window. #kitchen #renovation
I said good bye to our beautiful antique glass window. We are saving it for a future project.


This is how the windows looked like before. Photo by Issay Tanabe of Real Kids Photography.


This is the plan from Kitchen Studio by Rafael Calero. Not reflected here are the wooden floors I plan to get from Matimco. I’m using a white countertop and farm house sink  from Two SG called Rockstone Solid Surface. I will be blogging about details soon.


Tweaking my kitchen design because I'm getting this awesome #Samsung digital refrigerator. Still haven't found my sink!
And as the new Samsung brand ambassador for Digital Home Appliances, I get this gorgeous most advanced refrigerator. It’s an inverter type and it’s amazing. Had to tweak the layout of the new kitchen just to fit this.


kitchen renovation
The materials will sort of look like this. A bit rough and beat up. Ya, we go through a long process of renovating only to come up with a kitchen that looks a bit beat up. But you know what I mean.


More kitchen talk to come… within the next two months.



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.





The homefront





It’s been a while since I posted stories about my home and my family. I have to admit that this blog has taken on a different turn from what it used to be like. I remember when my blog was still Daphne’s Diary and only a handful of people were blogging, it was filled with random little nothings about my life. And you were all there to keep me company. As the blog grew, it somehow became a product of my “work” like part of the official brand DAPHNE®. Collaborations came in and with top retailers! The luxury bed linen line with SM Homeworld and Our Home, my furniture line that retailed in Rustan’s and Dimensione, and of course my pride and joy, the DAPHNE x Bench collaboration. I am so grateful and still floored that all that happened and continues to happen. Hint, hint.

Somewhere along the line I feel like I detached myself from the blog a bit too much though. Or am I over-analyzing? Maybe it was because Instagram became too accessible that all my little random diary entries went there instead of here. I didn’t find time to sit down and actually write. Heck, I even stopped using my micro four-thirds camera and DSLR. Today I am drowning in press kits, product samples, event invitations which I appreciate but I also feel like that’s not just what Daphne’s Diary is about. Yes, I talk about products, but I used to share more stories about things I’ve discovered or learned without any marketing or PR activity involved. All authentic stuff. I feel like I owe it to you and myself to get back to my roots. At the very least, all my marketing campaigns are identified. And I also have not partnered with nor supported any campaign that didn’t fit in with my aesthetic and principles. I have declined quite a few.

So I will attempt to balance — business and real life. And please let me know how you feel about it. This is not and never was a mommy blog. So I’m not going that direction. I’m also not an expert on food but admittedly, I am in the process of discovering my inner home-cook talents. Join me on that discovery process. Travel is also a big part of our lives now. Though my 10-week stay in Toronto last year almost went un-blogged. There’s so much I didn’t share about that trip because I was so busy living life at the present moment. Design is still in my vocabulary especially since we are working at doing more home tours. Health, wellness and spirituality make up a huge chunk of my new life now. I won’t preach, but I may tell stories from this journey. Then there will be little anecdotes about my daughters. When I started blogging, I had only one kid. I was pregnant with my second baby, Lily. Now these girls are growing into their own versions of themselves. I’d like to include some of their stories in my blog. Of course security and privacy is an issue, so I can only do so to a point that we are comfortable with.

I guess what I’m saying is, there’s a lot of noise out there. I want this site to continue to be my happy place so I’m regrouping and things are going to change. You are always welcome here.

I just did a fun shoot at home with Xeng Zulueta as the makeup artist and Sandro Paredes as photographer. Xeng and I have worked with each other for a long time. She did some of my most amazing cover shoots. This was totally random and fun. We didn’t even have a hairstylist. I just washed and dried my hair myself. Sorry for the unkempt hair.

But this is what real life is like at home — minus the false lashes.


This is the hallway where my girls’ little feet stomp all over. The house is never quiet when we are home. It is filled with voices, footsteps and laughter. All three daughters are wearing Gingersnaps. My dress is from Sfera, shoes are Repetto.


My masterpiece. Haha. I worked with Rafael Calero of Kitchen Studio. He executed all the ideas I wanted and presented me with more options that I didn’t know existed. I’m loving my kitchen floors. These are treated wood from Matwood. Rafael stained them a certain way so they wouldn’t look too red. In real life they’re lighter. I’m particularly proud of my ceiling. I had this brilliant idea of knocking down the existing ceiling and exposing the roof and beams. But at the time, I didn’t know what lay beneath the ceiling lining. Surprise, surprise… a beautiful structural beam. Oops, it’s hardly in photo. I must show it to you at another occasion.


My kitchen took forever to finish. The reason was because my sink had to be brought in from Kohler, Wisconsin. Yes, Kohler is not only a brand but also a place. It is beautiful. Here are stories from when I visited the Kohler sites in Kohler, Wisconsin. My sink is made of enamelled cast iron. I absolutely love it. P.S. We had to make adjustments to the cabinetry in order to make the sink fit. We initially didn’t know we could have this sink, until I had a “love affair” with the brand officially. My windows are pretty special too. It’s a huge treat to have new windows like this. These are tempered glass and PVC from a German brand called Veka from Fourlinq. As many of you know, the rest of the house has wooden capiz windows. Balance and irony. Haha. Oh, if you’d like to see the video of my kitchen renovation, click here. Top from Sfera, jeans from Uniqlo, shoes from Repetto.


My throne. Seriously. Because every woman must be the queen of her home. Ha!


This Raina chair was a special birthday gift to me by Vito Selma. He sent it to my house right after he showed it in Manila Fame, March of this year. It is, by far, the largest present I’ve ever received. Look at it going through our door on Instagram. I love it! And I adore Vito!  P.S. Dress is from Sfera.


Oh dear, the kitchen beam is still not visible in this photo. Oh well. Here are my three bunnies. We purposely bought three un-matching stools. You can see a bit of a mess behind me. Proof that the kitchen is not “for show.” It’s a real working kitchen. Perhaps only Pinoys will know what I mean about that. Haha. So we dressed up a bit in this shot. I’m wearing a silk dress I bought in Bali from Magali Pascal. Sophia is wearing Rajito by Rajo Laurel. Lily and Stella are wearing Gingersnaps.


The most photographed part of our house is the red door. Every time I have press people over they think they have the “money shot” with the red door. I have to disclose that it’s been done many times. I can actually do an entire series just filled with red door shots! Hmmm, that’s an idea. Future blog entry perhaps. Well, the story here is that the house is really old. It’s the house my husband grew up in. And when we got married, we wanted to give it a bit of a facelift, but slowly. So we began with paint. I wanted red from day one. We also played with colour inside the house — pink hallway, green living room. My advice is, if you don’t have much budget but you want to give your home a boost, start with paint. Don’t be afraid of colour.


All photos by Sandro Paredes.
Make up by Xeng Zulueta.



Got gooped



My Flash Roasted Chicken, using free-range organic chicken


If you’ve been following me on Instagram @DaphneOP, you may notice that I’m trying to cook real food in my kitchen. I’ve been getting a lot of requests for recipes, but I’ve never had the guts to actually share my creations. Reason being, I am totally new at this. I’ve never been the domestic type, believe it or not. All my adult life I’ve either depended on other people to cook for me or ate out a lot. But since I built my dream kitchen last year, I promised myself and Patrick that I will learn to love cooking, not just for my family but also for my own pleasure. Happy to announce that I am finally at that point.

Before I go on and share my cooking adventures and misadventures, I must state the reasons why I am so inspired to cook.

1. I love my kitchen space. I designed it to have every thing I love in it. Including a beautiful sink, stunning hardwood floors, great lighting, a Samsung digital inverter air conditioner (yes, I am spoiled and I deserve it, haha). The video of my kitchen renovation is at the bottom of this post.

2. My Samsung digital inverter refrigerator. Disclaimer, I am Samsung Home Appliances’ brand ambassador. But really, in all honesty and transparency, my refrigerator rocks!! It’s huge, yes. But wow, my produce stays fresh a week longer than normal. I can organize my freezer so well. The kids have access to a freezer that’s all for them only, hence they serve themselves to ice cream in the afternoons. There’s enough space for our bottles of wine and cold cuts. Basically it has allowed me to plan meals in advance. I really, really love it.

3. I’ve discovered the pleasure of cooking for my family. The kids and Patrick react with “yummmm”, “so good”, “you’re the best Mommy ever!” And that just makes my heart overflow.

4. My kitchen isn’t enclosed and isolated from the rest of the house. Cooking becomes a social activity. The kids hang out at counter while I cook.

5. And most importantly, I value eating and feeding my family organic vegetables, free-range chicken and healthy chuchus like that. We are not vegetarians. But I love that I can control every ingredient that goes into our food. I am on this long path of trying to feed my family healthy choices. So I hope you allow me to share this journey with you. And please feel free to give me pointers, tips, and links.


Last week, Gwyneth Paltrow posted a story on Goop about how to cook a whole chicken and end up with three meals. Here is the link — One bird, three meals. I used the first recipe, which was a simple roast. I followed everything except I didn’t have sweet potatoes so I substituted it with whatever I could find in my fridge — zucchini, carrots, red peppers, green peppers.


I may have left the veggies in the oven a bit too long, but it wasn’t really burnt.


Here is my tweaked recipe of Goop’s Flash Roasted Chicken

1 whole chicken cut up into parts (see Goop’s instructions on how to cut a whole chicken)
2 tablespoons Herbs de Provence (I didn’t have these herbs so I used a Greek herb rub I bought in Toronto. You can use anything aromatic.)
4 sprigs of fresh thyme (My thyme plant just died on me, so I used fresh tarragon instead.)
juice of 2 lemons
3 large organic carrots
1 red onion, diced (also organic)
other veggies (zucchini, red and green peppers)
4 garlic cloves (local from a Philippine farm)
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste


1.  Preheat oven to 450°F. Place the vegetables in a large roasting pan and season with salt and pepper. Season the chicken parts with salt, pepper, and herbs and nestle them into the roasting pan with the carrots. Add the lemon juice and about three tablespoons of olive oil. Mix the oil to coat the carrots and rub the oil into the chicken legs with your hands. Arrange the tarragon evenly around the veggies and chicken.

2.  Place in the oven and roast uncovered for about 30 to 35 minutes. The skin should be crispy and golden brown and the juices from the leg should run clear. This is new to me — transfer chicken parts from the pan to a serving platter and cover with tin foil. Gently toss the carrots, red onions and other vegetables back in the oven to roast for about 10 minutes more, or until browned and cooked through, while the meat rests.


Here is what the chicken looked like. It was very good. I didn’t use just the legs as Goop suggested because I had to feed my whole family. So I used the entire chicken and left the carcass for the second meal which was chicken stock.


So there it is, our roasted organic chicken with veggies.


And here is the chicken stock I made while the parts were in the oven roasting. I saved this stock for chicken noodle soup that I plan to make tomorrow. GOOP used it for chicken rice pilaf. Recipe is on the same Goop link above.


And this is a highlight for my Instagram account. GOOP “favourited” and commented on my photo! Whee!


While waiting for the chicken in the oven, I had time to go for a 30 minute bike ride with Patrick. It was too perfect. Haha. Then when I got back, I juiced some of my green vegetables. I’ve been juicing since February.


I throw in greens like spinach, kale, cucumber, celery, malunggay or lettuce then add carrots, apples or oranges. I can make about 3-4 glasses of pure juice. I keep them in an airtight lid in the fridge. This is how I’ve been starting my mornings. I take green juice first thing in the morning, wait 15-20 minutes and then I have regular breakfasts. I do not crave for that jolt of caffeine anymore. Green juice totally wakes me up. I only take coffee now for the pleasure and taste, not as a caffeine habit. There a lot of benefits to green juicing. Is this a topic you’d like me to write about? I don’t want to bore you… haha.

Almost forgot to mention… the fibres from the vegetables all went to our new compost “bin” (aka a clay pot with soil.) OMG, who am I?


Just in case you missed my video about my kitchen last year, here it is.