I have said this before. I’ve met some of the most interesting people through communities online. Before Livejournal, Facebook and Twitter, all I had was Flickr where I “met” Rachelle Wenger, a Filipina married to an expat, Chef Thomas Wenger.
Rachelle is currently a contributor to Town & Country’s society pages. She is a stay-at-home mom who does volunteer work by teaching CCD (Continuing Catholic Development) and being a lector in Santuario de San Antonio. She also does interior decorating and event planning sometimes.
Rachelle invited me to her birthday party at their new penthouse which she had been working on for many months. The result is stunning. She was very hands on in the design, decorating and project management. Rachelle is not a formally trained designer. She took one semester at PSID but discontinued because of mommy duties. For her penthouse, she worked with architect Dominic Galicia and her contractors Chris Chua & Jam Ngkaion.
I hope you enjoy the (gazillion) photos I took. Rachelle was kind enough to play along with my Q&A.
This is the Wenger’s penthouse. It spans two huge floors, both with extremely high ceilings, with mezzanines in between. The space at the bottom is the living room. Above it is the family room. Rachelle gave us a tour.
Your penthouse is very big. Did you know exactly what you wanted when it was turned over to you, considering it was turned over as a blank shell?
As soon as I stepped into the place, I still remember that vividly, 3 years ago, I fell in love with it already. And yes, I know this was it and what and how I wanted it to look. I couldn’t stop thinking about it eversince I saw it and fortunately, my husband was impressed as well. We really liked the high ceilings and the roofdeck sealed the deal. There were some ideas that got added on along the way but basically we got what and how we envisioned it from the first time.
Just to give you an idea of how open the space is. There are no doors or walls in the bathroom, closet and bedroom. Being the highest part of the unit and of the actual building, no one but the birds will see you here.
Your bedroom is at the highest point of the building, you decided to keep it open without walls. Why?
That idea came from our architect. I guess he wanted to push the design envelope. Admittedly, I, at first, was wary about it. The privacy, the noise but my husband liked the idea. He’s European and if you go to Europe this is common in modern homes. They don’t have a lot of inhibitions. Design is a big part of our life and what we both do, it’s a reflection of who we are and since it’s in a different dimension, it feels private.
Interesting master “bathroom”. What’s the idea?
That evolved from a lot of different ideas. From the plumbing constraints to my downsized walk-in closet, etc. In the end, we went for a bathroom that’s very modern but still with respect to our lifestyle. We decided to separate the shower from the toilet and the Mexican cabinet was still from our home in HK. It was great that it fit the space hence giving us the appropriate cabinet to house the sinks and toiletries.
The den on top of the dining area, is enclosed in glass sliding doors. This can be converted into a guest room. Rachelle says she’s still looking for a more appropriate rug. Rachelle says the den is the most feminine part of the house and she does a lot of computer work from the here. It has a sofa bed where she can lounge and read. Also has a good view of the kids when they’re in the family room, the hills and the river. Very calm & serene.
Click “More” to see the rest of this penthouse…
What was the overall feel/atmosphere/theme you were aiming for when decorating your space?
Decorating-wise,I wasn’t really going for anything. I made use of our existing furniture and furnishings. Most of our stuff have been with us since we got married and from our first home in Hong Kong. Ultimately, I feel it’s a juxtaposition of old and new. It looks contemporary and modern but still being cozy and homey with a lot of antique, vintage and heirloom pieces .
Rachelle’s in-house chef, her husband, Chef Thomas Wenger. I love their kitchen island made of stainless steel. They plan to install a high cabinet that will house the wall oven, as well as some hanging lights.
Her paternal grandfather’s sewing machine holds many significant pieces. The Shanghai Tang candleholder was a wedding gift. Small pitcher was a gift from friend, Rima Ostwani. Big pitcher was her dad’s gift to her mom during her first trip to the States. Lamp from Rockwell circa 2003.
Your table is lovely. How do you come up with interesting settings?
When I design, it’s always organic and I try to use whatever pieces I have and try to work on and around them. Always, have fresh flowers and candles, that’s my trademark, can’t be complete without these. They liven a setting. I also use place cards. Aside from making it easier for your guests, it shows that you really expect them and makes them feel special. I also love collecting plates for the different parties I host. I like to mix and match.
What’s your favourite time of day in the condo?
Hmm, depends on the month, summer time, around 10 in the morning when it’s just basking in light, you can see clearly the Antipolo hills and Pasig River at a distance. Nice play on shadows too. Rainy season, mid-afternoon, looks so cozy.
It’s also cool at night since you see the lights from the buildings.
Pros and cons of penthouse living?
I don’t see any cons except we feel earthquakes much stronger than those on the ground. We used to live in a Makati village but we got burglarized while out of town. From that time on, I wanted to move to a condo though I wanted a condo that looked like a house and has a garden. Providentially, it was given.
Penthouse living perks – you wake up looking at the sky and seeing the sun rise. I find myself being thankful always since I feel we’re just next to the clouds. At night, you’re by the stars, really romantic and it’s like a different world you’re in Security is good as we have guards, cameras and a code to even go up. It works for our lifestyle.