Arts & Culture

This Quirky Banawe Cafe Is An Instagram Dream

A richly layered mix of vintage décor, upcycled furniture, and a riot of hues make every corner of this café picture-perfect

Original Article: Sunshine Funa Photography: Dairy Darilag Styling: Tala Singson

When asked what inspired them to put up Third Space Studio Café, owner and decorating enthusiast Elle Uy Aguell casually replies: “We just saw an opportunity.” There are no tales about long, drawn-out dreams, nor are there musings on restaurateur aspirations. Her husband, Yuseff Aguell, just happened to see the 400-sqm-space and decided to take a leap—it was as simple as that.

This unpretentious approach extends to the studio-café’s menu, which consists of home-cooked comfort food, refreshing shakes, and milk teas; and to its eclectic interiors put together by Elle and Yuseff. “Kaya siya eclectic kasi the inspiration is our collection. We collect, we refurbish. So before pa namin i-start ‘to, meron kaming bodega of scrap na furniture na di pa namin alam gagawin. Ito yung resulta nunito yung lumang frames namin, lumang chairs, lumang tables. Ito yun,” Elle jovially relates.

Most, if not all, were bought from secondhand shops, vintage collectors, or were done by Yuseff, who used to run an upcycled-décor shop with Elle. Take, for instance, the old wooden school chairs that were used at the couple’s wedding—some are now in the café, the writing pads removed and turned into bases for a few of the tables. Yuseff designed all the lighting pieces as well, with the help of a welder.

Surprisingly, this carefree mix of various furniture and décor does not make the establishment look stuffy or cluttered. Thanks to big, glass windows and a backyard that serves as an extension of the café (there’s an outdoor dining area and a half-court for basketball), the whole place looks airy and is awash in natural light. This lends an inviting vibe that attracts customers from all walks of life. “Halo-halo—from lolo to a high school barkada,” says Elle, who muses that the predominantly vintage pieces either bring nostalgia to the more senior crowd or pique the interest of their young patrons.

Main dining area

Old photos of Elle’s and Yuseff’s family dot the wall and share space with old Shanghai posters, macramé hangings, and mismatched dining sets.

Jukebox alley

This vintage-style jukebox can actually be played, and pipes out the music in the café.


Cashier’s counter

The light fixture above the cashier’s counter was fashioned by Yuseff from metal pipes and factory-style lights. Lighting fixtures made out of upcycled bits and pieces are some of Yuseff’s signature touches in the café.

Outdoor dining

The outdoor dining area—screened off with metal grilles—shares space with a half-basketball court.

Outdoor table

All the tables inside and outside the restaurant do not match. Some are covered with linoleum or wallpaper, others are covered with vintage fashion illustrations, like this beauty.

Outdoor courtyard

As the “baby” of a home décor enthusiast and a guy who loves to create things with his hands, it’s no surprise that Third Space also serves as a showroom of refurbished furniture pieces (the couple owned the now defunct DuoDeco Studio, a home furnishings store). You can still see some of the pieces on the cafe's website. 


At the rear of this restaurant is this architectural folly—faux windows painted on the wall and a striped awning added to look like another café—another proof of the couple’s sense of humor. Not surprisingly, it's one of the favorite spots for customers to take photos of their OOTD's. 

Third Space Studio Café is located at Banawe corner NS Amoranto Streets, Quezon City, open from Mondays to Thursdays and Sundays, 11:30am to 9:30pm, and on Fridays and Saturdays from 11:30am to 10pm. For more info, visit their website.

Read the original article ("Halo-halo Charm") in the February 2017 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App. Log on to for more details. 



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