It’s out with the old and in with the new, taking this house on the hill a year and half to renovate from dark and dated to light and contemporary.
Entering the gates of Maria Luisa Estate Park, the lavish homes with gilded gates all seem the same after seeing rows of it. As with most upscale-gated communities, the houses tend to look alike and the best way to stand out is to swim against the current. If homes were to resemble their owner, her home and Bernie Aboitiz would be the epitome of quiet elegance with its simple façade and earth tones.
“The new house was an inevitable product of years of desiring to renovate paired with the perfect opportunity found during empty nest syndrome.” says Bernie, wife of VECO exec Jimmy Aboitiz. “In the eighties this house was originally the model house for this village and the original house was boxy and full of dark wood. It was a gift to us, when we were newly weds and we lived in it for 22 years.” When the kids were off to college, Bernie called Pilar Streegan, a family friend who happens to be an architect as well. Because the house was mostly done in wood, time and sunlight had taken its toll, and most of the structure was ready to go. “I wanted something modern, with large spaces, almost spa-like in its relaxed atmosphere and enough space to do some entertaining,” says the lady of the house who served organic carrot cake sweetened with pineapples instead of sugar, organic taro chips and vegetarian pasta when we visited her home for the shoot.
Guests enter a discreet door through the gate, into a tiled foyer and are greeted with a large nature-inspired mosaic by Nature’s Legacy above a long, antique wooden bench. Double-framed glass doors open up to a cavernous hall that contains the living room with several sitting arrangements which can convert to instant dining areas. A tall red Chinese armoire doubles as a well-used bar, while a wide antique table can either hold artwork, or serve as buffet table. The whole area is flanked by three sides of Kenneth and Mock sliding glass doors with views of the mountains and the city. Dominating the room is a solid magkuno round table for formal dining set with white porcelain limoges plates by Daniel Parquay and mounted on gold chargers.
There is an obvious penchant for the old as well as the new in this house as seen in their art collection; several antique jars and modern vases on top of matching glass pedestals complete the space. Scattered throughout are oversized and comfortable sofas in contemporary fabric, as well as some quirky chairs sourced from Carlo Cordaro’s atelier-a, DEDON and Detalia Aurora.
Directly below the main living area are the family’s private quarters – the master suite, and rooms for the three kids – Leane, Rafa and Gabe, all opening to a spacious family room with the entertainment center and a mini gym.
A few more steps down past the master bedroom and the gym, sits the house’s true hidden treasure. From the top of the treated Mactan stone perron, the sight of the infinity rectangular araal pool leaves you in awe of the beauty of nature as it reflects the sky, the trees right off the cliff, and the orchids. With the dark cement finish, it absorbs the heat of the sun and even swimming at night is completely warm and inviting.
The view is spectacular with patulous trees strategically planted outside her home and in her neighbor’s lot. “I wanted to keep a constant flow of air around the house especially in the living room with open windows, but mosquitoes and other pests would trump my need for fresh air. I planted neem trees which are known to help prevent the growth and habituation of mosquitos.”
“This house is a constant growing experience for me” Bernie says, “I like that it’s made in a different style from most houses.” As she is on the look out for what’s new, what’s hot, and what’s rare in modern home design, without a doubt each visit paid to this house will be unlike the other.
- by David Jones Cua
- photography Candice Hintz
- ikebana floral styling OJ Hofer
- home styling Rizelle Ostrea, PIID Cebu