A Tropical-Inspired Home Filled With Designer Pieces

Take a peek into this furniture designer’s stylish dwelling

Original Article: Rachelle Medina Photography: Dairy Darilag Pictorial Direction: Dagny Madamba and Tala Singson

For fans and followers of furniture, the name Debbie Palao would surely ring a bell. Her countless designs have graced both local and international stages for several decades. With her husband Gus, they have been instrumental in bringing the Cebu furniture export industry to the fore through their exquisite collections and active participation in fairs both here and abroad. Given the duo’s artistry and dedication to the craft, one can expect their home to showcase their preferences and talents.

Situated on a hilly terrain, their multi-level Cebu home is isolated at best with all the greens around the property. Its relaxing ambiance make it seemingly a different world from the metropolis it is actually part of. The first level of the home leads to the driveway and the garden, while the second level houses the living and dining spaces. Floor-to-ceiling sliding windows were installed to make the most of the sunlight and the breeze coming in. The artificial light in the home are mostly table and floor lamps, which are used during nighttime, and there’s only one room—the guest room—that has air-conditioning.

The highlight of the Palao residence would have to be Debbie’s collection of furniture pieces which can be found in almost all areas. It’s no wonder then that the furniture designer feels right at home after a long day in the factory. After all, who wouldn’t feel the same when you’re surrounded by everything you’ve put your heart into?

Read the original article ("Best in Show") in the April 2016 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App. Log on to for more details.

Living Area

The living area can be found on the second level, which has three different sitting areas. The main sitting area is as airy and relaxing as it gets, with pieces culled from her Havana collection.

Living Area

Debbie’s home can also be considered as a gallery of her designs. This sitting area features her Maze table, Aladdin Ghost lamp, Miss Hulkee chair, and seats from her CrayOH! series.

Sitting Area

This snug spot, which opens to the hillside, happens to be the furniture designer’s favorite spot in her home. One can sit back and relax on her Cloud lounge chair while appreciating the view. The square Solehiya side table at the right is by her niece Kae Batiquin.Regarding the side table: "It's computer-printed. That's how millenials do it. We use a big computer that prints on plywood," says Debbie. 


One can access the third level of the home through this spiral staircase. Adorning the area are basket-like lights from Diseño en Asia.

Study/Work Areas

The third level comprises of three working areas; one each for Gus, Debbie, and Kae, their niece who also happens to be her brand manager. They made the most of the narrow space by having ample storage options for each individual, as well as huge windows to let the light in and create the illusion of larger space.

Guest Room

Apart from a low futon-style bed and South African décor, Debbie had an air-conditioner installed, making it the only room in the house that has one, to ensure the comfort of her guests.

Decor Detail

More of Debbie’s furniture pieces can be found underneath the staircase, one of which is her Pout chair which won a Mugna award in 2011, and Trekkie lamps. Kae's Kimono side table also finds a home in this space. You can find the Kimono table and Pout chair at Holicow Gallery and Store. 

Dining Area

Rattan takes center stage in the dining area, where different finishes of the material come alive in various forms.

Decor Detail

This lampshade that Debbie designed is made out of curled rattan strips, taking inspiration from spiral notebooks.

Furniture Detal

Debbie designed this chair, which she calls Miss Hulkee. She compares this chair to a woman. “It's got a butt, a waist, thighs, but Gus says may kulang—no boobs!" she shares.

Decor Detail

The inlaid rattan details lend an intricate feel to the fruit bowl.

Furniture Detail

Rich textures make up Debbie’s Encantada collection cabinet. To see more of her designs, click here. 

Decor Detail

The gecko influence in Debbie’s home is strong, since there are lots of them in her garden at night.

Furniture Detail

Multi-colored hand-painted dots make this wooden stool from Debbie's CrayOH! collection stand out.

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