A Beautiful Dream House In Cavite That Was Decorated On A Budget
This sprawling family home with a fantastic view was surprisingly built on a tight budget and furnished with secondhand finds. It is solar-powered and eco-friendly, too!
In the middle of a quiet suburban village is the Pita residence, a white and gray house that looks simple and unassuming from the street. But once you step inside the main door, a cool breeze hits you, and everything is washed in a beautiful, natural light. An elegant neutral-gray palette is used throughout, but the real stunner is the magnificent view—the main living areas overlook a verdant easement, along with vistas of Laguna de Bay, Makiling, and Tagaytay Ridge.
Designed by Mikko Yap of FOYA Architects, the 350sqm family house is the fruit of the hard work of Donna, a stylist, and husband Patrick, an engineer. It all started eight years ago, post Ondoy (the destructive typhoon that submerged Metro Manila in floods in 2009). “Hindi kami na-Ondoy but we wanted to live somewhere higher,” relates Donna.
“We weren’t going to look here [in this village] because it was out of our budget. Pero our agent said may client who was liquidating their properties because they were migrating.” Their real estate agent encouraged the couple to make an offer, and the seller accepted it. Donna and Patrick got the lot at a much lower price than the going rates of the village, and started building their home in 2016.
In spite of its impressive interiors (and views), Donna admits that the whole project was done on a tight budget. “In fact, 75 percent of the furniture was hand-me-downs, or bought from secondhand stores,” she says, sharing that she scoured secondhand but stylish finds from Facebook seller groups, neighborhood Viber groups, HMR, and pamana from her parents and in-laws. Other pieces she DIY’d using a can of paint.
In addition to being beautiful, the Pita house is sustainable and “green” as well. The house runs completely on 100 percent solar power in the daytime (even the air conditioners and water heaters run on solar power), as Patrick had SolaX solar systems installed. They have a rainwater catch basin to provide water for laundering and watering the plants. And Donna’s sister helped plant a vegetable garden in their backyard. “Ang ultimate goal namin is puro sustainable, yung may edible garden kami. Ang goal din namin ay maging zero sa kuryente. We don’t turn on any lights during the day and mahangin naman. Super-tipid siya!”
When Donna posts her construction and decorating progress on social media, she always tags the photos as The House That Faith And Grace Built. “This house wasn’t purely from our own efforts,” she explains. “May help from other people na mababait, and may help from ‘other powers,’ as well.”
The Pita home is a multi-level house, but it only looks like a modern, gray-and-white bungalow from the street. Donna had a sign with their family name on it instead of a house number. She DIY’d the sign using an extra stair plank and some metal.
Once you step into the foyer, you will immediately see one of Donna’s brilliant secondhand finds. “P1,200 lang 'yan from my old neighbor,” she says, pointing to the stately aparador. “Nakalabas lang siya sa bahay niya and may bond paper na nakalagay: ‘For sale, P1,500.’ Siyempre tinawaran ko!” The round rattan chair was also a secondhand buy, which she painted black. The circular woven rug cost only P700 from HMR.
One wall of the entry foyer is painted a soothing bluish-gray, which sets the color theme of the entire house. The vintage pendant lights are from Donna’s mom, Diana. “Sky blue yan dati!” The impressive peacock chair on the hallway at rear is from Peacock Chairs Manila, which they customized in a Hunter Green color.
The Pita family’s living room overlooks the foyer on one side and a view of the mountains and greenery on the other side. It is dominated by secondhand finds, but you can hardly notice them, as most have been reupholstered or refurbished to fit the gray-blue-black-white color scheme. The midcentury-modern-style sofa is from Patrick’s childhood home, and is made of solid wood. “Mabigat siya, as in,” says Donna. An artist used the Art Beamer app to preview this painting on Donna’s wall.
Because the windows are always left open, a butterfly (or two) usually flies in. On the wall by the stairs are HR Ocampo drawings.
Generously sized transom windows let in even more light into the house. “Reminiscent yan ng house namin,” says Donna, referring to the transoms in her mother Diana’s midcentury house, which was featured in Real Living in June 2008. The round sunburst mirrors on the wall are budget P88 finds from Daiso. A retro-style copper-colored electric fan was a tsamba find from OLX.
As seen from the attic-loft (which has floor-to-ceiling windows), the dining area also has a majestic view of the mountains behind the house. Donna got her metal dining chairs at Mandaue Foam and her kabisera solihiya chairs from a Facebook selling group, but her dining table was a freebie. “Kasi si Celine Lopez was redecorating and then she posted: ‘Whoever can get this tomorrow can get it for free.’ Siyempre kinuha ko na!”
Donna’s kitchen opens directly to the dining area. She insisted on having open shelves. “Ayoko kasi ng maraming nakatambak, naiipon [sa closed cabinets].” Donna says that moving to Cavite changed their lives. "We get to have breakfast together as a family kasi mas chill sila. Mas outdoorsy na kami, hindi na puro mall."
The bar stools by the kitchen island are another of Donna’s salvaged finds, and cost only P900 for the pair. “Yung neighborhood namin may Viber group, ’pag may nagbebenta ng gamit, nagmemessage sila dun.” However, she splurged on the marble used in the kitchen. “Pumipili naman ako kung saan ako willing gumastos,” she admits. The lighting fixture is from CW Home Depot.
“Lahat ng glass, windows, doors, gusto ko steel,” Donna admits. Even the attic-loft’s partition, located above the kitchen, is made of glass and steel. “Heto yung family room kung gusto mong manood ng TV na naka-air con,” she says with a laugh. The circular rug is another HMR find.
Says Donna of how her kids chose their bedrooms: “Sabi ko sa kanila, mamili sila—smaller room with a view, or bigger room with a side view.” Her daughter chose the smaller room with a view. The rose quartz-pink wall is decorated with a Miho deerhead from Donna’s mother, and 3D butterfly stickers from Daiso.
The collage above her son's bed is by Donna’s sister. Donna DIY’d the rope headboard. “One day kumuha ako ng lubid and inikot-ikot ko diyan,” she says matter-of-factly.
In the shared bathroom of the kids, patterned, Spanish encaustic-style floor tiles take center stage. These are just affordable printed tiles from Mariwasa. You can get similar gray subway tiles like these at Vintage Hardware PH.
Donna and Patrick’s bedroom also has a wonderful view through the steel-framed windows. It is also filled with secondhand and DIY finds, like the P150-peso Umbra wall accents and a secondhand geometric rug from HMR. The headboard is a purchase from a furniture store in Robinsons Galleria. If you look closely, there is a dado or chair rail encircling the entire room, and it gives the space a classic touch.
Located between the master bedroom and bathroom is a walk-in-closet, which is shared by the couple. This is why Donna had to seriously pare down her shoe and bag collection, which was a challenge, since she is a fashion stylist.
The master toilet and bath is a serene vision with its all-white palette. “[Former RL stylist] Coni Tejada recommended yung clawfoot tub and [telephone] shower from Homestore. Kailangan medyo vintage-style ang fixtures ng banyo,” says Donna.
To read more of Donna Pita's tipid tips on decorating and building, click here.
You can email architect Mikko Yap of FOYA Architects at foya_architects[at]yahoo.com and mikkoyap[at]yahoo.com.
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