Good friends are hard to come by. Good friends who can and offer to help you redecorate your space are even a rarer commodity. Berna's friend Richard answered her call for some serious help to help decorate her new Manila apartment, decorating her space with a mix of locally sourced items mixed in with some decorative items from Beijing, where Richard travels for business. The apartment is a mixture of modernity with cultural detailing, with simple forms combined with traditional ornamentation that gives the 500 square feet apartment a sophisticated, yet comfortable, presence.
My/Our style: Modern with strong Asian influence.
Inspiration: Berna bought the apartment from a previous owner. When she asked me to help her decorate the apartment, I was traveling to Beijing for business. That is where I got most of the accessories to make the space unique.
Favorite Element: The living room with framed Chinese propaganda posters. Those are actually from an old Taschen calendar that I had framed. A very inexpensive way to incorporate art in a room.
Biggest Challenge: The budget. We had a tight budget and I had to prioritize certain pieces. I really wanted to get the antique red lacquer Chinese desk. So that was first. We were able to get cheap pieces that were made in the Philippines like the abaca rug and went to wholesale dealers for items such as the Chinese ceramic drum/stool.
What Friends Say: It is cozy, inviting and unique. It is unexpected with the use of Mao memorabilia for a touch of humor.
Biggest Embarrassment: At one point, we went overboard with the candles.
Proudest DIY: The pillow cases. I could not find nice and affordable pillow cases so I had them made. The fabric is called “tinalak” and is from an indigenous tribe in Northern Philippines. Purchased a couple metres of the this fabric and had a local tailor do a simple pillow case.
Biggest Indulgence: The red Chinese lacquer desk. It anchors the room. It was worth the expense given that it is a very good focal point once you come into the room.
Best advice: Focus on a certain theme or style, be it midcentury or Asian. Then put a modern twist to it. Use simple colours and then add one that will pop out. In this case, we used mostly brown shades and then a pop of red.
Dream source: Panjayuan flea market in Beijing. You can get anything and everything. From Tibetan rugs to antiques and reproductions. And don’t forget to haggle, haggle and haggle!
Furniture: Mostly local items from the Philippines.
Accessories: The Mao busts are from Panjayuan market in Beijing. The propaganda posters are Taschen calendars that were framed.
Lighting: Locally sourced in Manila.
Paint: Locally sourced in Manila.
Flooring: Locally sourced in Manila.
Rugs and Carpets: Sisal woven rug from the Philippines.
Tiles and Stone: Locally sourced in Manila.
Window Treatments: heavy tweed (used for jackets and clothing)
Artwork: Philippine artist named Garibay. Framed antique postcards in the bedroom from Beijing.
(Thanks, Richard and Berna!)
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