A Filipino Bahay Kubo With Modern Industrial Touches
An interior designer transforms his provincial childhood home into a grown-up bahay kubo that pays homage to his roots and design journeys
Interior designer Wilmer Lopez of furniture and lifestyle store Space Encounters, and his eponymous design firm W. Lopez Designs, was beaming as he welcomed the Real Living team into his family home in the province. You could tell right away that he was in his element, his comfort zone—an impression somewhat amplified by the lively and nostalgic collective noise of pupils from the home’s adjacent elementary school.
“Diyan ako nag-aral. Kapitbahay lang. Minsan nale-late pa,” Wilmer recalls with a chuckle. Separated by only a wall, the schoolyard was an extension of his family’s backyard (and the other way around). The latter was where he would first try his hand at design albeit unwittingly. His favorite childhood activity: fashioning a makeshift bahay kubo out of raw materials from his surroundings and furnishing it with pieces from their family house.
Fast forward to decades after, in 2006, it was time for him to build yet another bahay kubo on the same yard. This time, a permanent one meant to withstand harsh weather conditions and to be enjoyed by many. “There’s still that kid in me who wanted to create my own bahay kubo, but something functional na for me, my family, and my friends,” relates the Manila-based designer who would make it a point to retreat to his provincial home once a month.
Within the home, you could find pieces from Wilmer’s trips (Bangkok, Berlin, Japan, among others), artwork from friends, acquisitions from flea markets and trade shows, and furniture pieces of his own design, pre-Space Encounters. Plus, a few items—decorative masks and a chair in the bedroom—from a café venture back in the 1990s. “I’m sentimental. I want to keep something from that period kasi you cannot bring back the time, pero at least you can keep a piece of it.”
Amid a backdrop of rustic materials and raw finishes, Wilmer lets his inclinations stemming from his childhood and different life phases take center stage. His grown-up bahay kubo brings him the same joy he felt as a child because he remains true to his core. “I’m still honest about what I want.”
The reclaimed wood that figures in the two-storey structure were sourced mainly from Pampanga. "I wanted it to adapt to the environment—airy—siyempre 'pag probinsiya, kailangan open-plan. Inisip ko rin ang materials na gagamitin kaya hindi rin siya ganoon kabilis natapos," Wilmer says.
In the veranda that opens to the garden, Wilmer created an intimate sitting area with black barrel chairs and a weathered coffee table. "Yung mga bamboo sa likod, maliit pa 'yan noong nilagay ko diyan ten years ago," shares Wilmer.
Wilmer's first sofa, a cushioned rattan seat, graces this area along with two solid wood and metal chairs from his exhibit at the Ayala Museum. The materials throughout the house—reclaimed wood, bamboo, cement—were all left raw; nothing was painted. This added a hint of industrial style.
The dining area is located on the veranda, probinsiya-style. In trademark Space Encounters-fashion, the expected chandelier is replaced with vintage, midcentury modern lights.
Wilmer likes gardening, a hobby that he shares with his mom. He did his own landscaping for his bahay kubo. Much like in his city home, there's also an abundance of succulents all around; some of them lined up on a ledge near the kitchen.
Located next to the veranda is a cozy, screened-off bedroom for anyone who wants to sleep "outdoors." It is furnished with an old papag-style bed with solihiya matting, and Wilmer's first drafting table when he was an interior design student at the University of Santo Tomas.
This bamboo-walled anteroom greets you at the top of the stairs from the first floor. The retro light fixture adds a playful and industrial contrast to this bucolic setting.
Set against a bamboo wall, the faux skull in the anteroom seems even more real and organic. Another animal, this time in ceramic, sits atop the Art Deco-style aparador. To add to the vintage mood, sometimes Wilmer plays 1920s music through the retro-style Marshall speaker.
Generous light and air stream in from the capiz windows into this bedroom furnished simply with a bespoke bed and a wooden Art Deco side cabinet scored from a roadside shop. "'Pag di ako maka-design sa Manila, 'pag gusto ko ng tahimik na environment, dito ko ginagawa yon," admits Wilmer.
The sitting area is replet with Wilmer's storied pieces, most of which are a nod to his love of midcentury modern style. The upholstered sofa that Wilmer designed is from a period when they were about to open their furniture shop. "During that time, we were still looking for a place for Space Encounters. Design lang ako ng design ng furniture."
This reproduction molded fiberglass armchair is Wilmer's favorite piece. It takes its pride of place in a spot opposite the main siting area. Beside it is a makeshift floor lamp with a store-bought shade. On the floor are paintings from Bangkok. Thailand is one of Wilmer's favorite travel destinations, for its fuss-free access and aesthetics.
Wilmer retained the probinsiya feel of the house by locating a small kitchen for preparing light meals and snacks by the open area of the ground floor. The bathroom is located right next to it, and is decorated with a perky "Tweet" wall print from one of Space Encounter's earlier collections.
Read the original article ("Well-Grounded") in the February 2017 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App. Log on to summitnewsstand.com.ph/real-living for more details.
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