HOUSE OF QUIRK.
HIDING BENEATH RUSTIC-CONTEMPORARY INTERIORS IS A DELIGHTFULLY QUIRKY, PERSONALITY-LADEN FAMILY HOME
An inviting rustic home for six incorporates personal touches such as a mix of furniture, multiple color palettes, and “shabby chic”-inspired pieces.
“I’ve always wanted an outdoorsy, picnic-type of dining table,” says homeowner Jenny Sohu. “So when I saw one on sale in Pottery Barn, Estancia, I bought it agad. It’s an eight-seater that can extend to a twelve-seater. The table perfectly matches our mismatched dining chairs.” She bought the table months before the house was finished. Most of the chairs were bought in China and the blue one is from Anna Banana Rustics. One, though, deserves a special mention: an offwhite chair bought on sale from KISH.
Many factors contribute to a perfectly designed home. One of the most essential of these is a harmonious relationship between the homeowner and the designer. When the main players of a home design project are on the same wavelength, everything else runs smoothly.
In the case of the Sohu home, the homeowner and the designer not only had the same design ideas; they also share the same name! Homeowner Jenny Sohu and interior designer Jen Sohu are cousins-in-law; and they were on the same page right from the start.
“She told me, ‘I want something rustic,’” says designer Jen of the look her cousin wanted for her home. “I told her, ‘Stop right there. Gets ko na.’” This didn’t stop Jenny, however, from being completely involved in the project.
Jenny, the homeowner, thought a rustic theme would capture what she wanted in her home: “old and new put together.” Fortunately, the four-storey, fourbedroom townhouse she and her husband Mike bought was just the right size. “Any bigger, and the rustic theme would have been too much. Heavily textured wood gets overwhelming after a while,” says designer Jen.
The theme is established in the ground-floor foyer: with machuca tiles on the floor, a washed brick wall, and the house rules—“laugh, say please, give hugs…” —neatly printed on hanging wooden planks.
One flight above is another wall of washed bricks, this time serving as the accent wall for the entirely open space. The living and dining areas share this floor, with the kitchen separated from the rest of the room by an island from Kitchen1. “I love the instant cozy feeling that bricks bring,” says homeowner Jenny, who shares the home with her husband Mike, a pilot, and their four children.
Despite heavy wood featuring prominently in the second floor—shelves from Vintage Hardware in the living area and an eight-seater dining table from Pottery Barn—the open layout makes the space appear more spacious than it really is. In fact, this area is the official hub of activity in the Sohu household. “From the start, I imagined the living room to be the center of our family bonding activities. That’s why the space was made open and free.” Jen adds another reason for the open layout: her cousin loves to throw intimate parties, thus the need for free space. “And she’s really good at it. She even hires a personal chef to cook for her guests,” she says.
This open space wasn’t how the townhouse looked like upon construction, though. “We had to do a relayout of the second floor because it was too crowded,”
says Jen. Originally, in addition to the kitchen, dining and living areas, there was a guest room sharing the space. In its place, Jen put the powder room, extended the main kitchen, and added a “dirty kitchen” beside the powder room.
On the third floor are two bedrooms: the master and the room of the kuya, Maki. As with the second floor, the master bedroom went through a re-layout—three times—to make way for a bigger walk-in closet, which shared space with the bathroom.
Funny enough, this room, which many homeowners would pour effort and attention on, received the least bit of time from the lady of the house. “I got so excited imagining what the other rooms would look like that I paid little attention to the master bedroom,” Jenny says. It still turned out beautiful, though, thanks to a relaxing palette of blues, whites, and browns. Accessories and light fixtures are from Jen’s shopping trip in China, while the bed linen is from Pottery Barn.
Next door is Maki’s room. An NBA fan, 12-year-old Maki has been a member of his school’s basketball varsity team since he was nine. He asked for a cozy bedroom where he could immediately rest after training. Wooden shelves from Vintage Hardware, plus a pull-up bar by the door, keep the room consistent with the rustic theme.
The top floor of the Sohu household is for the girls: Maddie, 10; Moey, 7; and Macie, 3. Maddie, a ballerina and a member of her school’s dance troupe, has her own room. Shades of green and purple keep it playful and feminine, with a canopy bed from More Than A Chair setting the tone. Wooden hooks from China and colorful hooks from Amazon.com turn Maddie’s walls into unique art installations.
Her little sisters are in the next room. It’s a fun one, with salmon walls and emerald green beds, a girly white chandelier and green shelves in the shape of birdcages. Both beds are trundle beds, but in place of mattresses are stuffed toys, with more spilling over to the top of a set of red drawers from More Than A Chair.
“It’s easy to decorate a rustic home given the many available accessories in stores,” says Jenny. “But having pieces that mean something to us—those with a back story—are more precious.” Indeed, the Sohu home, although just a little less than a year old, is already brimming with happy stories.