A Serene Space in Quezon City

Natural accents and an imposing wall ward off the hustle and bustle of the metropolis, thus achieving a sense of tranquility

Original Article: Tisha Alvarez Photography: Miguel Nacianceno Styling: Coni Tejada Architect: John David O’Yek

Coming up with a haven of tranquility right at the heart of the urban jungle is no small feat—yet architect John David O’Yek has managed to pull it off. Drawing inspiration from Mother Nature and keeping in mind the family’s quest for space, light, and air within a densely populated area, he centered his design on a courtyard. It’s the first interior feature of the home to greet you as you step beyond the imposing front wooden door—a gateway to a relaxing retreat. Since the clients wanted an emotional environment with tranquil spaces that would serve as a refuge from the daily hustle of city living without sacrificing security and privacy, John David planned a modern resort-like environment – open yet secure.

The ensuing design is an inverted C-shaped structure, with a towering wall on the front and fourth side. The rest of the layout is split-level, with one area used for entertaining guests without disturbing or invading the homeowners’ privacy in the main house. The first level has short flights of steps leading from the foyer to the living area or to the dining area and kitchen. The second floor has two sub-levels with four bedrooms and a family hall, while a third level houses the attic and audio-visual room.

In keeping with the theme and vibe of the house, the furniture are predominantly neutral and earthy in color—mostly browns and mochas, with hints of red in varying shades to prevent the atmosphere from becoming too dull and austere. High ceilings and sliding glass doors make the space even airier, a welcoming contrast from the crowdedness of everyday city life.

Original article by Tisha Alvarez. Styling by Coni Tejada. Photographed by Miguel Nacianceno.

Read the original article ("Urban Retreat") in the December 2009 issue of Real Living Magazine. To download a digital copy of Real Living Magazine, visit Summit Newsstand at


Looking from the outside, the house looks like a normal home. One step beyond this massive gate leads to an open courtyard with a lap pool, waterfalls, and a plethora of potted plants.


Upon entering the house, guests are greeted with a rectangular mirror and a hanging shelf with various knick-knacks and decor.


An unassuming foyer with a simple yet classy design done in earthy hues beckons one to leave the noise and chaos of city life behind.

Living Area

Up a short flight of stairs is the living area. The interiors are fairly streamlined, with modern, minimalist furniture and a few key décor pieces for a dash of color.

Living Area Detail

Pops of color are seen in the throw pillows and table lamp. Plenty of light comes in through the many glass doors and windows in the area. “Through proper space planning and greater attention to details, energy efficiency is attained by keeping rooms well lighted and ventilated,” explains John David.

Tranquil Corner

Catching one's attention is the lamp found in this corner. Suitable for reading --- it offers a view of the oasis outside, too.

Dining Area

It’s always a good idea to mix neutrals with pops of color to create symmetry. Warm browns dominate the dining area, but potted plants and cheerful décor pieces and artwork are cleverly placed to lessen the severity.

Dining with a View

The dining area gives a fantastic view of the outside. Wide windows and doors allow light to stream right in.


To keep a space from being too masculine or too feminine, experiment with myriad colors and textures. The kitchen may seem too industrialist at first glance, but take a closer look—the marble countertops are softened by the wooden cupboards and upholstered high chairs.

Kitchen Area Detail

Wooden panels accentuate the kitchen as well.


A balcony is the perfect finishing touch to cap off a room’s relaxing vibe. The sliding glass doors open up to a balcony that overlooks the courtyard, while heavy drapes give one the option of a cozier, more intimate space.


Neutrals are great foundations for décor and design. The bathroom boasts of predominantly white walls—great for giving off the illusion of a bigger space—with cheerful pops of color. Your best bets to mix with whites: bright reds, tangy oranges, or deep purples.

Urban Oasis

The highlight of this open courtyard is the lap pool, where one can frolic in during high heat or relax amid touches of nature. At night, the calm, tranquil vibe is made even more apparent with warm, mood lighting.


Latest Stories

Neutral Colors Make This 50sqm Condo Unit Extra Homey

Taking inspiration from an accent wall, interior designers Honey Mutia Cervantes and Rosa Manduriao were able to achieve a modern yet comfy look for a one-bedroom vacation home in the city

5 Plants That Can Repel Mosquitoes

Keep your home safe and these pesky pests away with these natural solutions

This One Home Appliance Can Cause A Fire

Hint: Did you straighten your hair this morning?

Would You Live Inside This 9sqm Water Pipe?

This modern designer studio unit (inside a water pipe!) in Hong Kong may be the home of the future

Miss Universe Philippines Catriona Gray Is An Awesome Artist

We discovered the Binibining Pilipinas-Universe winner has some mad painting skills!

8 Properties That Will Make You Want to Move to Pampanga ASAP

When it comes to investing in real estate, Pampanga is the place to be right now

Team Kramer Gives A Tour of Their New Home

The house will have an elevator, an infinity pool, and a classroom for the kids

17 Important Loan Terms That You Should Know

Buying a house? Here’s an A-to-T glossary of financial terms that won’t leave you in the dark.

A Loft-Type Bachelor Pad Found Inside a Family Home

The owner worked with interior designer Erika Uichanco to transform an ordinary bedroom into a remarkable, condo-like personal space

This Hostel in Makati Has Calming Bedrooms Perfect for Staycations

The bonus? You get design ideas for the different rooms in your house, too!

Lazada Plans to Launch an Online Grocery This Year

Shopping for the home will be easier as the e-commerce startup aims to build cold storage hubs in Metro Manila and nearby provinces

What Kind of Furniture Do Millennials Look For?

Are they all about aesthetics or do they care about functionality, too?
Load More Stories

Get inspiring design ideas and handy hints.
Subscribe to our newsletter now!