A Modern Tropical House in San Jose, Antique

Former Real Living creative director Gwyn Guanzon welcomes us into his family home in the province

Original Article: Rachelle F. Medina Photography: Ocs Alvarez/ACME Visual Productions

In 2001, Simona "Monie" Salazar and her late husband Teopisto "Ben" Guanzon Jr., the parents of former Real Living creative director Gwyn Guanzon, started building their own family home with a budget of only P800,000.

To help them save more money for the construction, the couple decided to haul rubble and sand to make hollow blocks that they could sell for P7 apiece. The excess hollow blocks were saved for their house so that they would only have to purchase the cement, the roof, and the beams.

Monie explains that they also made the most of their money by recycling many things! For example, she purchased all of the stained glass windows for only P3,500 at the renovation site of an old mid-century church. 

Read the original article ("Fine Antique") in the April 2013 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App. Log on to for more details.


The bright yellow facade stands out in this sleepy Southern town in the province of Antique.


The lanai is furnished with a wooden bench that is completed with wheels from the old caro or carriage once owned by Gwyn's grandmother


The lanai is surrounded with blooming bougainvillea plants! Gwyn says that their collection started only with three bougainvillea pots. He adds that only 20 percent of the plants were purchased and the rest were simply picked by the roadside or given by their neighbors.


More bougainvillea plants are placed on the windowsill.


This outdoor space is completed with an actual bull's head from a nearby palengke and a resin gazelle skull from Dapitan Arcade. Beneath these animal heads is a bench with a bohemian-looking patchwork seat cover made by Gwyn's grandmother. In front of it is a coffee table made from a pig's trough.

Living Area

The stained glass windows that were once part of an old mid-century church can be seen in this living area. Except for the tumba-tumba or rocking chair, the furniture pieces were designed by Gwyn and built by Asian Tropical Lifestyle in Pampanga.

Living Area

A closer look at the details of the custom-built wooden furniture. These pieces were shipped by RORO from Pampanga to Antique.

Family Room

Since the family room used to be a dark area, Gwyn brightened up the space by installing a sliding door and bringing in new furniture pieces. He also provided more storage options by putting up more shelves and cabinets.

Dining Area

To make the area seem bigger than it really is, Gwyn opened up the ceiling and exposed the beams and rafters. The renovated ceiling is adorned with giant wooden spoons and forks

Dining Area

The dining area is furnished with a leather-topped dining table and unique dining chairs. If you look closely, you'd see that the dining chairs have no backs! 

Outdoor Dining Area

The old dining table and dining chairs have been moved to the outdoor dining area! This open space is the perfect place for appreciating good weather and enjoying the company of family and friends.

Pocket Garden

The dirty kitchen has been converted into a pocket garden! The wall is highlighted with different kinds of orchids. The space is completed with an outdoor furniture set. 


The garden is filled with coconut and traveler's palms, millionaire's vines, blue orchids, mango trees, peanuts, black tea plants, and assorted shrubs. Gwyn decorated the front yard with his own Verner Panton chairs (seen on the cover of the November 2008 issue of Real Living).

Gwyn's Bedroom

Gwyn's bedroom has a sleeping loft! There is a cozy study nook underneath the bed.

Gwyn's Bathroom

To improve his old bathroom, Gwyn removed the shower enclosure, painted the walls beige, and lined the walls with araal stones for a tropical resort feel

Master Bedroom

The master bedroom is defined by the robin's egg blue walls and the wooden four-poster bed. At the foot of the bed is a long bench topped with rust and bronze-colored pillows.

Facade at Night

The facade of Villa Simona is even more enchanting at night! 


Latest Stories

These High-End Villages Have Tripled Average Land Prices in the Last 6 Years

Do you live in one?

The Ultimate Quiapo Bargain Shopping Guide

Ready to go on a Quiapo adventure? From Ilalim ng Tulay to Plaza Miranda, you are bound to spot a budget home find. Read on for our list of stores and buyers tips.

The New Holiday Balikbayan Guest Solution: Airbnbs

They will surely feel right at home!

Your P2,000 Budget Can Afford A Mini Makeover

Turn sad corners and uninspired nooks into spaces that wow

18 No-Fail Building Materials For Your Home

These designer-recommended products would make your home last a lifetime, saving you money in the long run

You'll Love These Pieces That Combine Style and Function

An elegant blend of design and style, these picks make a great addition to any room.

All The Breathtaking Design Details At The ASEAN Summit

In photos: Pinoy design and Asian elements took center stage, from the arrival area to the closing ceremonies

This Is How To Choose The Best Products For Your Home

Top tip: seek professional advice!

These Photos Will Inspire You to Display Your Favorite Bags

Showcase your precious totes and purses while keeping your home clutter-free

Home Improvement Projects That Don't Add Value To Your Property

Are the repairs you're working on doing more harm than good?

Decorate Your Home for Christmas for Less Than P1,500

A trip to the bookstore is in order

Have Your Audrey Hepburn Moment With An Actual Breakfast At Tiffany’s

The luxury jeweler has just opened a cafe at their flagship store in New York, and it is so swell!
Load More Stories

Get inspiring design ideas and handy hints.
Subscribe to our newsletter now!