A Filipino Bahay Kubo With Modern Industrial Touches
An interior designer transforms his provincial childhood home into a grown-up bahay kubo that pays homage to his roots and design journeys
Interior designer Wilmer Lopez of furniture and lifestyle store Space Encounters, and his eponymous design firm W. Lopez Designs, was beaming as he welcomed the Real Living team into his family home in the province. You could tell right away that he was in his element, his comfort zone—an impression somewhat amplified by the lively and nostalgic collective noise of pupils from the home’s adjacent elementary school.
“Diyan ako nag-aral. Kapitbahay lang. Minsan nale-late pa,” Wilmer recalls with a chuckle. Separated by only a wall, the schoolyard was an extension of his family’s backyard (and the other way around). The latter was where he would first try his hand at design albeit unwittingly. His favorite childhood activity: fashioning a makeshift bahay kubo out of raw materials from his surroundings and furnishing it with pieces from their family house.
Fast forward to decades after, in 2006, it was time for him to build yet another bahay kubo on the same yard. This time, a permanent one meant to withstand harsh weather conditions and to be enjoyed by many. “There’s still that kid in me who wanted to create my own bahay kubo, but something functional na for me, my family, and my friends,” relates the Manila-based designer who would make it a point to retreat to his provincial home once a month.
Within the home, you could find pieces from Wilmer’s trips (Bangkok, Berlin, Japan, among others), artwork from friends, acquisitions from flea markets and trade shows, and furniture pieces of his own design, pre-Space Encounters. Plus, a few items—decorative masks and a chair in the bedroom—from a café venture back in the 1990s. “I’m sentimental. I want to keep something from that period kasi you cannot bring back the time, pero at least you can keep a piece of it.”
Amid a backdrop of rustic materials and raw finishes, Wilmer lets his inclinations stemming from his childhood and different life phases take center stage. His grown-up bahay kubo brings him the same joy he felt as a child because he remains true to his core. “I’m still honest about what I want.”
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