A 139-year-old Ancestral Home Transformed into a Charming Bed-and-Breakfast

French, Indian, Vietnamese, and Filipino sensibilities mingle to form a cohesive mix of old and new at Villa Severina

Original Article: Katherine Lopez Photography: Miguel Nacianceno Pictorial Direction: Gwyn GS Guanzon

When architect Robert Arambulo acquired the Noble ancestral home in Taal, Batangas, he was determined to retain its Old World charm and elegance while infusing modern accents. “The inspiration here is the Singapore Black and White house [old colonial houses in Singapore, mostly made of wood, painted in its namesake colors],” he says. “The interiors are a blend of the East and West.”

While acquiring the property was relatively easy, the repairs and renovation proved to be a challenge. “One of the major problems that we encountered was the drainage. When the house was still what it was, there were no fences around, so the rainwater would just flow to the sides and out. After we had put the walls up, the water had no place to go so it flooded the house,” Robert relates. “We had to redo the drainage all around the house.”

Robert and his team also had to reinforce and re-strengthen the centuries-old house, which suffered from natural deterioration and wear-and-tear over the years. “We had to re-strengthen a lot of the foundations and add additional structures [like the] flooring because the [house] is old, [so it could] take the weight of more people," he says. Roof leaks had to be repaired and the problem of termites had to be addressed, as well as sourcing for wood that would blend with the house’s existing old ones.

But Robert’s labor of love proved to be a worthy endeavor, as Villa Severina now features a French-Asian vibe, with its traditional bahay-na-bato shell and Old World interiors punctuated with vibrant pops of color. It houses four designer suites: the Paris and the Pondicherry Suites downstairs, and the Martinique and Hanoi Suites at the second floor. Each bears a distinct European elegance coupled with an Asian flair.

Original article by Katherine Lopez. Pictorial direction by Gwyn GS Guanzon. Photographed by Miguel Nacianceno.

Read the original article ("A Villa Resurrected") in the April 2011 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App ( now! Log on to for more details. 

Main Entrance

The subtle, dignified main entrance of Villa Severina already beckons one to be transported back to the 1870s, when the house was built.

Grand Staircase

Robert kept the original stone landing of the grand staircase, as well as the stairs itself. Nine holes were bored through the planks of the second floor, so that its 19th-century tenants could see who was coming to visit without going down the stairs.

Lounge Area

The stairs lead to a bright and airy lounge on the second floor or formal room—a mishmash of things old and new. The room rests on a palette of whites and dark browns, all flooded with a generous amount of natural light. A modern flat-screen TV and white Wassily chairs and a flat-screen TV harmoniously co-exist with the traditional rocking chair, Turkish rug, and sliding capiz windows.

Hanoi Room Suite

The lime-colored walls and accents offset the white wall frames and beddings. The color scheme for the room is a combination of lime and vermillion orange. Custom-made iron beds and Vietnamese artworks—set against a backdrop of sliding capiz windows—give the room an Indochine-colonial feel.

Martinique Suite

This suite (the biggest room in the house) boasts of a mix of tropical and French accents—the four-poster bamboo bed, the trompe l’oeil painting at the ceiling that depicts sunset in Botong Beach in Lemery, Batangas, the classical commode.

Room Detail

The intricately patterned blue bedding evens out the suite’s earthy color scheme of reddish brown and orange.

Pondicherry Suite

This suite, named after the Indian territory that fell under French rule, definitely exhibits the rich hues of India, with its vermillion and celadon color scheme, richly textured pillows, and eccentrically patterned paisley chair.

Pondicherry Suite Bathroom

The bathroom’s green and white motif is a tame contrast to the suite’s vibrant theme. The shelves are lined with Buddhist and Eastern mysticism curios, in keeping with the Indian theme.

Paris Suite

Designed to look like a French boudoir, this area showcases damask fabrics, tassels, colorful curios, and other flea-market-chic details.

Bedroom Detail

The beautifully carved luxe headboard is actually a flea-market find from Kamuning, Quezon City.

Paris Suite Bathroom

While the Paris Suite’s spacious rooms are filled with various knickknacks and accents, its bathroom makes up for the relatively narrow confines by boasting clean lines and a white motif. The Venetian mirror adds a European flair to the space.

Shared Bathroom

The mosaic walls in the shower area give an edgy, eclectic vibe. The earthen jar and wall accents maintain the Asian feel.


The roomy cabinet underneath the sink lets guests stash their toiletries inside. The wooden post that resembles a tree trunk gives a rustic, outdoor feel and keeps the space from looking too modern.

Garden / Lanai

The canopied area is distinctly Filipino in design, with the rustic rattan chairs, wooden table, and nipa hut-like cover.

Outdoor Detail

More chairs are seen outside perfect for those who want to catch some sun.


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