A Pinoy-Style Apartment Filled With Works Of Art

One-of-a-kind memorabilia and collected treasures complete this masterpiece of a home

Original Article: Katherine Lopez Photography: Michael Angelo Chua Pictorial Direction: Nat Clave Styling: Paula De Guzman

The home of Emil Tapnio, a development worker, never fails to impress anyone that pays a visit. From having artwork by local artists and travel finds from all over the country to handcrafted furniture and unique pieces, it is a hodgepodge of everything Filipino—prompting a few to assume that money is no object for him.

In reality, however, fixing up this place didn't come easy for Emil. He has been living in this studio-type space ever since he moved out of his family home in Pasig in 2007. “When I moved in here, siyempre wala akong gamit. For a couple of weeks, natutulog ako sa karton. Nilalagyan ko lang ng bed sheet na pinahiram ng mga kaibigan,” Emil narrates. 

Eventually, after he started working and saving up, he was able to buy everything he wanted for his home—from the chairs and décor, down to the kitchen appliances. Emil’s apartment may be small, but it is filled not just with beloved pieces but also with life lessons that will stay with him forever.

Read the original article ("Start From Scratch") in the March 2016 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App. Log on to for more details.


To separate the sleeping area from the main living space, Emil decided to conceal his bed with a wooden partition. He also installed hooks to keep his bags organized. Lastly, a Maranao fabric adds character to a slim rack he keeps beside it. 

Living Area

In the living area, Emil hangs his favorite artwork—Elmer Borlongan’s “Fear”—which serves as the focal piece of the room. "Yung ‘Fear’ yung pinili ko. The reason why I like it is because fearless person ako. I realized na I need to put a semblance of control sa sarili ko,” Emil explains. Meanwhile, the stacks of books in Emil's living area are a testament to his love for reading. 

Dining Area

A set of batibot table and chairs complete Emil’s dining area. To soften up the look, he went for decor pieces with softer details such as the white doily that acts as a tablecloth and a bright-colored artwork titled “Pakitang Gilas” by Neil Manalo. 


For kitchenware, Emil prefers to go for stainless steel pieces. “Hindi ako particular sa brand, but I like yung stainless na gamit. I always look at the function kasi it’s a small space, so I want multifunction kitchen gadgets,” he says. He houses his dinnerware and cooking tools in a wooden shelf to keep with the Pinoy-rustic theme of the house. 

Living Area

According to Emil, this bench by the window is his favorite spot. “I could work. I could read. I could lounge. I could see my small space, nakikita ko yung mga beautiful things. They’re a testament of my hard work,” he says. He keeps the decor simple with sheer curtains, indoor plants, and jewel-toned fabrics from around the country. 

Work Area

Emil keeps more of his books in his work area, most of which are hardbound first editions, to double as colorful accent pieces while a red Eames-inspired chair adds life to the space. “It was given to me by a friend. Nung time na ‘yun, ang dami kong wood sa bahay, sabi ng friend ko, ‘You need some color here’,” says Emil of the chair. A wooden robot sculpture by Arnold Austria on top of the display titled “Bototoy” completes the space. 


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