Wide Open Spaces


September 13, 2017 | BY Marga Manlapig

The designer Budji Layug creates a convivial space that is perfect for gatherings in the heart of southern suburbia


When most people think of entertaining at home, they tend to worry about making the most out of limited space. But one particular home in the south of Manila easily opens its doors to accommodate everything from intimate family gatherings to larger, more elaborate parties.

Set within a verdant 1,500-square-metre lot, this 1,200-square-metre home is an airy oasis that is far removed from the bustle of everyday life. With its high ceilings and wide windows looking out onto the green lawn below, the overall feel is that of being in a comfortably secluded retreat in the heart of the city.

“It isn’t exactly our first home,” the owners say of it. “But this is the first house we’ve lived in that truly fits our busy lifestyle. It is like coming home to a resort at the end of every day and it makes entertaining our friends at home so much easier.”


The now two-year-old five-bedroom house calls to mind the concept of bringing resort living into the big city—a quality that bears the stamp of the firm behind its unique look: Budji + Royal.

The idea was to create an environment that would be conducive to easy living where residents and guests could feel one with nature. In response, the firm created a house characterised by an open floor plan that would allow for proper air circulation throughout the house’s ground floor, as well as facilitate entertaining a crowd with relative ease.

Equipped to entertain

The massive main door opens onto a graceful open foyer that serves as a gateway to the different areas of the ground floor. Clear glass walls give an unimpeded view of the front yard, playing up the illusion of bringing the fresh lushness of the garden indoors. Towards the end of the foyer is a broad-stepped staircase leading to the family’s rooms.


Upon entering, one may look left to see a stylish breakfast nook with a round table that seats four. It is a simple space that also doubles as a public meeting area the owners often use for meetings with clients or small social gatherings. The inner wall of the space holds an artistic glass and steel installation reminiscent of a bird’s nest and adds a wonted playfulness to the space.

A short walk leads to the main dining room with a beautifully equipped open kitchen where the hosts can prepare and serve meals in front of their guests.


The island in the centre of the kitchen is both a prep space for cooking and a bar counter for guests. It is an area designed with convivial entertaining in mind as the glass doors towards the back of the room open out into the backyard, perfect for balmy evening parties. A steel picnic table set with a faux wooden finish stands beneath a native plumeria tree—a must-have for al fresco dining at home.

To the right of the entrance is a plush sitting area that combines modern couches with wing chairs inspired by mid-century designs. The effect is not jarring to the eye, but the mix of retro and modular furniture adds to the house’s overall aura of comfort. This, too, is a venue for relaxation as it opens onto two other spaces—an interior den and an exterior deck—where the residents can kick back and indulge in some quality time.

The inner den features boulder-type seating with an elegant sound system for listening to favourite recordings. The owners’ collection of decorative plates from their travels is displayed on one side. On the other hand, the deck with its boardwalk-style plank floor is the perfect place for parties by the pool.


Green living

It is a juxtaposition of natural elements with modern design that characterises much of this house’s aesthetic.

Interior designer Budji Layug played up the concept of tropical modern by incorporating locally-sourced products—furniture, fixtures and accents—into an overall design that is appropriate for the country’s culture and climate. In doing so, he has given this particular home an ambience that would not be out of place in an elegant out-of-town resort.

Local materials take pride of place in the overall design. The use of sustainable woods such as coconut lumber and mahogany is seen in heavier pieces of furniture such as tables and countertops. Likewise, comfortable lounge chairs and couches by award-winning Cebuano furniture designer Kenneth Cobonpue make use of rattan cane and wicker, which are durable and suited for the tropical climate. Piedra Filipina, a type of sandstone from the northern provinces that buffs to a good sheen, is used to pave the floor of the house’s lower regions.


Traditional Filipino motifs can also be seen in other design elements: the moulded copper-wire light fixture illuminating the main living room is reminiscent of rattan spheres used for sipa (sepak takraw) while curtains are replaced by wooden slats that serve as window blinds.

The way the house was designed and constructed takes energy efficiency into consideration. There is plenty of ambient light in the daytime, thus less need for electric lighting; likewise, proper air circulation throughout the house keeps it comfortably cool regardless of the season.


Trees and plants in the garden help keep this particular home serene: the lush foliage serves as an acoustic damper that keeps out extraneous sounds from the streets as well as keeps inside noise from disturbing the neighbours. Privacy is also not an issue: the plants serv e as a natural wall and the main house w as built far enough from the street to avert prying eyes.

Without a doubt, the design team of Budji + Royal created this family home as a much-appreciated retreat.

Photos: courtesy of Marc Go

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