Real Living (Philippines) - - Realliving - pho­tog­ra­phy Dairy Darilag styling Dagny Madamba & KAMILA GAR­CIA words Tisha Al­varez

A two-story res­i­dence with strict feng shui re­quire­ments boasts a for­mal but re­laxed am­biance.

This two-storey home in Parañaque is un­doubt­edly re­fined: There’s a sump­tu­ous, cus­tom-made leather sofa and a huge Ti­betan thangka (Bud­dhist paint­ing) in the liv­ing room, el­e­gant French In­do­chine chairs in the din­ing room, and an en­vi­able art col­lec­tion scat­tered around the house.

But despite all these el­e­ments com­ing to­gether, the house is nei­ther stiff or in­tim­i­dat­ing. In fact, it has a re­laxed am­biance. The tra­di­tional-look­ing din­ing chairs, for in­stance, are made wel­com­ing with a modern rus­tic din­ing ta­ble; the kitchen is left open, al­low­ing for easy en­ter­tain­ing when the owner (who loves to cook) has guests over; and in­stead of hang­ing paint­ings, some are left on the floor, lean­ing against walls.

It may be tough to mix for­mal with com­fort­able, modern and tra­di­tional, but this is in­te­rior de­signer Tito Vil­lanueva’s spe­cialty. “I’m very eclec­tic. I like mix­ing old things with new things,” he ex­plains. “Other de­sign­ers have de­scribed me as hav­ing a knack for com­bin­ing things, and they still look co­or­di­nated, which is very dif­fi­cult daw.”

To keep things less daunt­ing and more invit­ing, Tito brought in ac­ces­sories from the owner’s old home and mixed them with new pieces. The de­signer en­cour­ages oth­ers to do the same. “For me, that’s the char­ac­ter of a per­son. I want them to move in to a house where their per­son­al­ity is brought in, it’s part of the house.”

Hav­ing this de­sign aes­thetic and also hav­ing pre­vi­ously worked on three other projects with the home­owner, Tito didn’t find it all too dif­fi­cult to put to­gether the modern Chi­nese look the client wanted. The chal­leng­ing part for him was pro­duc­ing a well-de­signed space while ad­her­ing to the prin­ci­ples of feng shui.

“It’s al­ways, ‘You can­not do this, you can­not do that,’” says Tito. Re­fer­ring to a par­ti­tion, he con­tin­ues, “I had to ad­just it by a few inches.

Feng shui is so par­tic­u­lar about that.” He also points out that the front door is lined up di­rectly with the back door lead­ing to the lanai—a big no-no when it comes to feng shui. “So we placed a di­vider, then ap­par­ently it wasn’t enough. The feng shui con­sul­tant wanted me to close ev­ery­thing up, that’s why I de­cided to put an­other panel of glass.” The glass still wasn’t enough to meet feng shui re­quire­ments “be­cause it was see-through,” so Tito de­cided to use tem­pered glass with a cus­tom­ized blue-and-white Chi­nese plate de­sign to go with the dé­cor. “It actually came out nice be­cause it came out like a dé­cor piece also.”

In this pro­ject—or in any pro­ject, for that mat­ter—Tito be­lieves it’s all about strik­ing a bal­ance, whether it’s be­tween modern and tra­di­tional, de­sign prin­ci­ples and feng

shui rules, or the de­signer’s sug­ges­tions and the client’s wants. “I guess that’s what some de­sign­ers have to re­al­ize—you’re mak­ing it for a client, not for your­self. You re­ally just have to present to your client, in­ter­pret what they want, what they need, and then from there, they ei­ther ap­prove or dis­ap­prove it, so you ad­just,” he re­marks. “If they dis­ap­prove it, all you can do is con­vince them!”

A col­lec­tion of fine art­work add more char­ac­ter to this home. Paint­ings by Fer­nando Botero (the one sit­ting on top of the China cabi­net) and Mar­cel An­to­nio (hung on the wall) are just a few of the home­owner's prized pos­ses­sions.

The large mas­ter bath­room has a shower, bath­tub, and a gen­er­ous dress­ing area, where Tito max­i­mized stor­age space by adding com­part­ments in the of­tunused base­boards. Get sim­i­lar bath­room fix­tures from Wil­con De­pot.

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