A 1960s townhouse renovated into a Modern Filipino home

A makeover transforms a married couple’s 208sqm, two-storey townhouse

Original Article: Chinggay Labrador Photography: Miguel Nacianceno Pictorial Direction: Gwyn GS Guanzon Architect: Lara Fernandez-Barrios

A renovation can improve the style and function of any home. To create a space that would look good and also meet their needs, Architect Lara Fernandez-Barrios and husband JB worked on their 208sqm, two-storey townhouse together. The 1960s structure is changed through extensive construction work, wooden floors from old buildings, and antique wooden furniture.

The couple started the makeover by getting rid of the termites. The next step was to move the home entrance to a different side so it would lead directly to the stairs. The front door was also replaced with a bigger door which the couple purchased on the road to Baguio. To open up their house and create an illusion of more space, a skylight or a window built into the roof was added for more natural light.

Original article by Chinggay Labrador.  Pictorial direction by Gwyn GS Guanzon. Photographed by Miguel Nacianceno.

Read the original article (“Playful Pinoy”) in the March 2012 issue of Real Living Magazine. To download a digital copy of Real Living Magazine, visit Summit Newsstand at


To spruce up the plain white wall, the couple chose a unique wall mirror with a distinctive texture and pattern.


The living room is filled with interesting furniture pieces, such as the coffee table that JB bought before he met Lara. When they became a couple, they learned that the table was a product that Lara's mother used to sell. They found a gray L-shaped sectional sofa straight from the catalog of a furniture store in Pasong Tamo, Makati.

Living Room

The wooden console behind the living room couch is adorned with decorative touches that add character and personality to the space. The wooden mother and child sculpture is joined by surprising choices like penguin and hippopotamus figurines.


Adorning one of the walls in the space is a photo taken by Isa Lorenzo bought at Art in the Park, an affordable art fair for paintings, prints, photos, and sculpture sold for P30,000 and below.


Since JB's mother collects furniture and she also had a few pieces kept in storage from a vacation house they sold in Tagaytay, Lara and JB furnished their dining room with one of their favorite heirlooms: an eight-seater dining table. The couple bought it into the house before sealing off the windows because it wouldn't fit through the front door. Although it took ten people to carry the table, they soon learned that the table could be dismantled and assembled again.


The connected living areas are separated by several doors. Having different doors allows Lara and JB to create private rooms or open spaces.


For a clean and streamlined look in the kitchen, the cabinets have no knobs or handles. The warm appeal of the wooden cabinet doors is complemented by shiny stainless-steel finishes. A white ceiling fan hangs over the kitchen island to make the space airy and comfortable.


A roofless pocket garden was turned into a minimalist rock garden with a translucent polycarb roof. The clear roof allows the light to come in and make the space brighter. The area is now used to showcase JB's collection of swords and wooden antiques.


The rock garden is also adorned with a pair of wrought iron toy bicycles for a charming and whimsical look.


Three meters were added to the house to make room for a home office for Larawan Ink, Lara's architectural firm that specializes in commercial and residential projects. Hardwood floor boards from old houses were used to create an interesting accent wall.


Instead of a metal fence, bamboo panels atop the concrete wall provide Lara and JB with privacy. The walls of the space are lined with potted plants.


A row of doors opens to reveal many surprises: a storage space, a powder room for guests, and the staircase to the second floor of the townhouse.


Lara explains that because the stairs lead to the bedrooms, having a door that can be locked also serves as a security measure.


Once the door is open, Lara and JB can go upstairs.


Opening up a wall can welcome light and air into any area. In this hallway, the gap offers a view of the rock garden below for a refreshing view of the open space.


For a timeless and sophisticated style, a gray and black color palette was used in the master bedroom. To make the room fit in with the other parts of the home, the furniture pieces and the floor are also made from wood. Stuffed animals serve as playful and personalized details.


The master bathroom, which has spotless white walls and fixtures and gray floor tiles, is livened up with a cute cartoon alligator decal or wall sticker.


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