Modern Tropical Design Fused with Lucky Finds in a Filipino-Inspired Residence

Hand-me-down furniture, precious antiques, and a touch of DIY dominate this family home

Original Article: Kathleen Valle Photography: Miguel Nacianceno Styling: Gwyn GS Guanzon Architect: Cathy Saldaña

Some women are lucky to find husbands who share their idea of what a dream home should be, and even luckier are those who have a mother-in-law who is gifted with interior designing and antique sourcing skills to help them furnish their family’s dream home. Aleli Salazar is one such woman, and she is even luckier than most as she has achieved her modern tropical Filipino-style home.

Aleli’s home is a lovely display of what resourcefulness can do. Parts and pieces of her home are proudly sourced from various places around the country – some precious antiques passed on from generation to generation, the others custom-made by local artisans and skilled craftsmen whom Aleli and her husband commissioned. Their main door, for instance, is a piece from Kusina Salud in San Pablo, which was made even more special with the addition of a carabao yoke from Vigan.

The homeowner’s architect, Cathy Saldaña, gave them the idea of an art deco style as architectural structure. The home’s wrought iron grills on its windows and doors, along with its high ceiling and open layout, give the home its breezy feel.

Read the original article ("Design Serendipity") in the October 2009 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App now! Log on to for more details.

Living Area

The Salazar’s living area has a dramatic winding staircase as its main focal point. Despite its size, the wrought iron handrails with wooden trim keep the look light and open. The rest of the area’s décor plays on height, with a red-orange wingback chair at the foot of the staircase, flanked by a small and sleek round telephone stand and a long and lanky giraffe from Bali, while across it sits a low table by Jenny Cortez littered around with comfy pillows for lounging.

Living Area Detail

Ample seating in the living room is provided by a cream colored sofa with colorful pillows from Rustan’s and IKEA. The stretched out camel décor – like its partner, the giraffe – holds special meaning for the Salazars, as this was carefully and patiently hand-carried by Chito from their Bali trip. The lamp is made of banig, a gift from Chito’s mom.

Living Area Detail

Aside from the many windows surrounding the Salazar home, interesting light fixtures are not only light sources, but also add visual interest in the home’s ample sized double-ceiling.

Dining Area

Pairs of mismatched chairs lend a touch of playfulness and laidback vibe to the Salazar home. The large dining table was custom-made by Jenny Cortez using recycled wood. The lighting fixtures are formerly antique glass panels made into decorative lights.


The kitchen is kept neat with the installation of enough cabinetry and storage spaces to keep clutter at bay. A colorful mosaic is used for the backsplash adding zest to the room’s neutral creams and beiges.

Second Floor

The second floor’s notable feature is an indoor balcony that looks down on the living area. This nifty idea, inspired by a house from Tropical Living, opens up the room upstairs, adding more space, while at the same time utilizing the high ceiling that creates a breezy and airy home. Simple paneled shutters and the clean lines of the railing minimize bulk and keep the architecture sleek and uncluttered.

Home Office

Aleli and her husband each have their own workstations at home. This area is Aleli’s area. The bright red wall is accentuated by a white, framed corkboard that you can easily make. Pick a wooden frame, paint it white (or any color you wish), and replace the backing with a corkboard (available from any office/school supplies store) that you can cut to fit the frame.


The den likewise highlights a bold red color. To keep the room's balanced look, a white sofa was added while the rest of the decor and accessories maintain the tropical feel.


The tropical vibe is carried on to the bedroom. The space looks cozy and inviting with its wooden touches. A plant on the bedside table add a refreshing touch.

Bedroom Detail

Who says you need a big dresser to satisfy your girlish whims? An old, narrow antique mirror on a customized dresser sets the tone for the homeowner’s vanity, flanked by a Venetian mask and a half-moon wall accent.


The lanai has Vigan tiles and a number of antique chairs, including a butaca (armchair).


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