A Series of Improvements for a 650sqm Bungalow

From a simple two-bedroom setup, the Vargas home now boasts of numerous bedrooms, three baths, and entertainment area including a poolside cabana—all rendered with a distinctly Asian feel

Original Article: Coni Tejada Photography: Jun Pinzon Styling: Issa Villar

A house that is home to a growing family is bound to experience changes as kids grow up and eventually fly the coop. In the case of interior designer Tess Vargas and husband Louie, their 650sqm lot started out as a bungalow with two bedrooms and a den, and eventually became a sprawling homestead with the arrival of their four sons.

It goes without saying that the house’s décor and design had to be updated as well. The living and dining rooms' former décor—a French-Provencal look of blue-and-white jars and chintzy floral sofas—didn't sit well anymore with her sons as it made them feel like they were off-limits to pretty pillows and soft laces. So out went the blue and white pottery and soft furnishings, and in came the wood furniture, Buddha statues, and intricate panels. A key point in the Vargas home’s metamorphosis was the addition of a poolside cabana, an idea inspired by her sons’ request for a pool table to be placed in the living room. “I would want to see them in the house with their friends rather than be out in places so there was no argument," says Tess.

And while Tess liberally gave her sons free rein to choose their bedroom colors and design, she also added her own personal touch during the house’s recent renovation. An Asian theme was the perfect compromise: the exotic and elegant vibe of each piece appeased Tess’s feminine sensibilities, while the dark wooden fixtures lent a masculine feel. Tess also admits to always being partial to wood – having developed a fondness for choice Chinese furniture in wang wali, elm wood, and sandalwood.

Original article by Coni Tejada. Styling by Issa Villar. Photographed by Jun Pinzon.

 Read the original article (“Keeping Up with the Times”) in the June 2007 issue of Real Living Magazine. To download a digital copy of Real Living Magazine, visit Summit Newsstand at

Dining Area Unlike other homes, a tour of the Vargas home starts with the dining room instead of the living room. According to Tess, the house has always been a place where people converge and meet up especially to eat. So the dining room was made the most prominent place when you enter.
Dining Area Detail One side of the dining area opens up to a mini garden that features an equally pint-sized water fountain. But the highlight of this setup is the rustic wooden door set amidst stone-colored bricks. This overscale fixture is the perfect anchor to any open dining space.
Living Area Asian accents and unusual wood furniture—such as the large coffee table with curlicue legs—define this place of relaxation. Throw pillows in various shades, shapes, and sizes co-exist harmoniously, thanks to the solid white wall and dark wood setting. A framed artwork is a nice finishing touch, as it adds personality and color to the white.
Living Area Detail The chaise-lounge type armchair with matching footstool invites one to curl up with a good book, or unwind with a cool beverage.
Living Area Detail The living area houses one of the boys’ most prized possessions—the pool table. Tess shares that the family spends lots of time here. “The family converges here a lot to chat and sometimes to watch the boys engage in a game of pool among themselves. Tea or coffee is almost always served here after dinner.”
Living Area Detail To balance out the wooden pieces, a comfy sofa can be found as well. Soft cushions are added -- perfect for weekend afternoons.
Décor Detail Here’s a decorating tip: There’s no need to fill up empty spaces with various knickknacks just to give a room that “lived in” feel. One or two standout pieces will do, and allows you more storage and breathing space—literally.
Décor Detail You may also add catchy table accents that can be good conversation starters, too --- like this unique dragonfly piece.
Asian Touch To keep up with the house's Asian vibe, a set of statues can be seen in one corner.
Breakfast Nook Right in the middle of the property is Tess's favorite spot in the entire house. Every morning, this is where she enjoys her breakfast and watches the birds. “We have breakfast here and I would take time to watch the birds as they come in and out of their bird cages bringing strips of straw to make nests. It is my sanctuary and a good place to start and plan the activities for the day.”
Pathway A canopy-covered pathway mostly made of nipa leads to the pool, the breakfast nook, and the poolside cabana.
Pathway Detail A variety of plants line the cobbled-and-pebbled walkway—a touch of Mother Nature in an urban setting.
Cabana The cabana was initially meant to be a place for the boys and their friends to dry off after swimming, to keep them from dripping all over the house. It has since evolved to be “the watering hole of the boys, the venue for the numerous poker nights and get-togethers, hanging around with friends. Even the adults hold their parties here and with the cool resort ambiance, the gatherings become even more enjoyable,” says Tess.
Resort-Like Details Bamboo is an element that is definitely Asian, and Tess was able to make good use of this material by creating an outdoor sink or wash area set against a predominantly bamboo backdrop. The framed artworks are actually window shutters.
Swimming Pool To complement the cool resort ambiance, a swimming pool is found outdoors --- surrounded by different plants.
Outdoor Detail Soaking up some sun will definitely be more comfortable and relaxing with this setup --- a comfy lounge chair was added to space and it is surrounded by plants and greenery.

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