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A 60sqm Pasig Apartment Becomes An Elegant And Cozy Home

"Walang space na pangit," says Wilan Dayrit, who transformed the small apartment into a sophisticated designer hideaway

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Photography: Toto Labrador Pictorial Direction: Kamila Garcia

When interior designer and teacher Wilan Dayrit first saw his bare apartment, it didn’t have a lot going for it, design-wise. Situated in a 1980s development, the apartment’s marble floors were worn, and the walls were done in a dated anay (rough-concrete-wall) finish.

The one-bedroom apartment does have a lot of good points, such as its prime location, and its nicely laid-out, airy spaces, plus a maid’s room. Other designers would have gone the full-makeover route by gutting out the walls, adding ceiling coves, and replacing the flooring, but Wilan took a more laidback approach by leaving the shell as is, and simply decorating it instead.

Hindi nag-re-rely ang good design sa pagbaklas ng walls,” Wilan enthuses. “After all, your floor, wall, and ceiling can be your blank canvas.” He took this blank canvas, and created a subtly French-inspired but contemporary pied-a-térre, a clear departure from his usual style of tropical-modern interiors. “Dapat kasi yung sanctuary mo, iba sa ginagawa mo. The neutral palette is still very me, but ngayon nagkaroon na siya ng layering. Because of travel, ’di na ako natatakot mag-mix.”

The end result is a richly layered apartment that is not overwhelming, but soothing; the eyes are led to interesting tableaux that tell stories about the homeowner, and his passions. It is a heady mix, but comforting as well, and quite an achievement, given the small floor area. Here’s how he did it. 

Entrance area

Wilan’s first tip: hide your clutter. “Heto ang aking Narnia cabinet,” says Wilan jokingly of the coffee-colored cabinet he has had since his first home in 2004. “Lahat ng libro ko nandiyan. Nandiyan din lahat ng clutter ko. That’s the secret!” White jars from Crate and Barrel, dried sprigs of cotton, a11 plates, and a Brompton foldable bike all form an interesting tableau by the entrance. 

Living area

Wilan’s second tip: have your curtains customized. “’Yan ang pet peeve ko, yung pangit na kurtina,” Wilan admits. “Madami sa Pinoy ang nagne-neglect ng kurtina. Curtains should always be custom-made to fit the exact size ng windows mo. It’s not that expensive; you can use affordable fabric like voile or organza lang. Kasi nakakadagdag sa mood ng isang lugar kung maganda ang kurtina.”

Wilan’s third tip: “Layer the objects you collect, and mix it with what you have.” Most of the pieces in this new apartment are furnishings and accessories from all his former homes and travels, albeit laid out and arranged in a totally different way. The gold rosette on the wall is a sale find from Crate and Barrel Megamall, while the Asian horse is from the erstwhile lifestyle store L’indochine. 

Wilan’s fourth tip: “Hindi naman kailangan fancy ang gamit mo para masabi na maayos ang bahay mo.” The designer’s living and dining areas are calm, light-filled, and furnished with the designers’ favorite pieces, both old and new, such as the vintage French velvet armchairs he bought from Albert Avellana, a white Philippe Starck chair from Kartell, a framed black-and-white print from Heima, and an old center table from Wilan’s home in Pampanga. The sophisticated, French-style sofa is a surprising budget find from IDO. “Good find ito, hindi siya mahal. And with yung gray upholstery, na-modernize siya.” 

Dining area

Wilan’s fifth tip: Don’t force a different look just for trends; work with pieces that show your personality. “Minsan nali-limit natin ang sarili dahil sa isang space,” Wilan muses. “Like for example, dated ang marble floors nito, ang walls anay finish, pero di ko pinilit palitan.” Wilan instead emphasized the generous height of the apartment’s ceilings with a dramatic light fixture (get similar from Home Cartel), and an assemblage of aqua blue plates from a11 disguises the wall’s rough finish. The French café-style chairs are actually new seats from Match Contract. 

Bedroom

When seated at the living area, you can get a glimpse of Wilan’s cozy, cocoon-like bedroom. “Sobrang nag-e-enjoy ako sa bahay na ito, nagtatago lang ako dito.” 

The designer, who also works as a visual merchandiser for furniture store Triboa Bay Living, prefers not to match his furniture pieces and décor. In this room, a French toile de jouy-covered bed is paired with plantation-style E. Murio rattan side tables, an Ann Pamintuan forged metal artwork, and black plates from a11. 

Lego collection

Wilan’s amazing collection of Lego Architecture Studio miniature buildings takes pride of place on custom-built shelves. You can see almost all of the famous buildings here, such as the Sydney Opera House, the Empire State Building, the Guggenheim Museum, and Marina Bay Sands, among many others. Wilan says that playing with the toy bricks improves his skill as a designer, and works with loose bricks to create buildings of his own. 

You can email Wilan at wilan_dayrit[at]yahoo.com

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