THE OLD & THE NEW
A designer successfully weAves his client’s love for Antiques into A modern condo unit
antiques in a modern 32-sqm condo unit? If you think those two elements—one is ancient, the other brand new—don’t sit well together, you may have a point. But somehow, homeowner Judd Salas and interior designer John Vigilia managed to pull it off. They turned this yearold unit into not just a home but also an art gallery and antiques showroom, except nothing in it is for sale.
Judd gave his designer the veto power on his antique pieces and art collection. Whatever didn’t pass John’s selective eye stayed in Judd’s family home. “I had this mirror with a dark wooden frame that I wanted to put in my unit,” says Judd. “Pero hindi pumasa kay John. He said there was no room for it.” A painting by Anita Magsaysay-Ho sits on the floor, half hidden by an ottoman, because there was no place to hang it.
The pieces that did get John’s approval have turned the unit into a snug home with an old-world appeal. Take for instance Judd’s 1920s art deco dining table, which doubles as his desk. He salvaged the table from his mother’s front yard, where it sat exposed to the elements. “I wanted to remove this metal strip that runs along the sides of the tabletop,” says Judd, “but they told me the metal strip is a distinct design element of that era. So I just had the table refinished.” The table is flanked by a wooden armchair from Cebu and a three-seater bench that Judd bought in Dapitan Arcade. “The legs are the only original parts left of that bench,” says Judd. “John’s suppliers restored everything else.”
A few feet away from the dining area is the kitchen. “The first time John saw this place, he looked at the kitchen and said, ‘Pwede ba’ng gibain ito lahat?’” says Judd with a laugh. “He removed everything and replaced everything.”
“The original beams looked like they’d been crisscrossed,” says John. “So we built a ceiling cove to cover the awkward placement of the beams.” The lowered ceiling also provided space for recessed lights; when Judd moved in, the unit just had sockets for bulbs.
Judd credits John’s thorough “personality tests” for the design that fits his lifestyle perfectly. “When we were conceptualizing the design, John showed me a series of pictures and asked me what I thought of them. He told me, ‘This will help me determine what you like in terms of themes and approaches to design,’” the homeowner recalls.
From these “tests,” John discovered that his client liked mirrors and glass, so he put up a wall of mirrors spanning the dining and living areas. These mirrors, assisted by the natural light rushing in through the wall-to-wall window, significantly extend the unit’s visual space. For storage, John put in a custom-made cabinet and installed glass shelves above it. A Madonna and Child oil painting from the late 19th century takes care of the antique element in that area.
Two modern framed prints by German artist Dieter
Korbanka update the space. These hang over Judd’s L-shaped couch, an unexpected point of contention for Judd and John. “I told John early on, ‘Pangarap ko sa buhay na
magkaroon ng L-shaped couch,’” says Judd. “But in the grand scheme of things, I think an L-shaped couch is at the bottom rung for John.” Still, Judd bought his cozy couch at SM Home; John compromised by making taupe seat covers to hide the couch’s original brown-black upholstery. Complementing the couch are two side tables put together to form a coffee table. Judd bought these tables from a friend who was moving house.
Judd’s bedroom also suits his personality. The forest green accent wall doubles as his headboard, and Judd believes the color keeps his room restful. The color represents all sorts of metaphysical elements for Judd: “vegetation, new things, regeneration.”
The wall in Judd’s room also carries some of the oldest items in his home: a couple of 200-year-old astronomical prints, which Judd bought in an antique shop in the UK. A 257-year-old woodblock print also shares space on the customized cabinet by the window. Again, John used mirrors to visually extend the bedroom—he installed these on Judd’s closet doors, which John also built. Next to this is Judd’s bathroom/smoking room/huddle room. “When my friends come over, we like to stay here in the bathroom to smoke and chat,” says Judd.
It’s a pleasant surprise that the bathroom, often designed as an afterthought, is such a bright and spacious room. The tiles, reminiscent of those used in Judd’s great-grandmother’s house, were sourced from Wilcon. Aside from tiling the bathroom, John also had a shower enclosure made. This makes sure that the rest of the bathroom stay dry, including two prints of Modena, Italy that were gifts from the mayor of Modena, and even a signed pencil sketch by Picasso. “I like to bring a part of my heritage with me wherever I go,” says Judd. “It reminds me of who I am and where I came from.” Who knew that his heritage, built on antiques and precious art, could find their space in this cozy home?
Connecting the couch and coffee table is a Persian carpet that Judd salvaged from his grandmother’s sidewalk. “My grandmother is at an age where she’s starting to give away her things,” says homeowner Judd Salas. “When I visited her once, I saw all these beautiful things disposed in a pile on the sidewalk.” The carpet was just one of the things Judd rescued from that “garbage pile.”
The antiques and family heirlooms that are in Judd’s home weren’t gifts from his family—most of these items, he plucked from his family home. One of the few things that his mom gave him was a green lamp that now hangs in Judd’s bathroom. “It’s difficult to understand,” says Judd. “Of the paintings, furniture, and other precious items, she gives me this hanging glass lamp.” You can find similar machuka-patterned tiles like these at Wilcon Depot, Libis, Quezon City.