John Hilson’s flat at Arya Residences in Bonifacio Global City has totally redefined the dramatic entrance for me. From the front door, a narrow hallway leads your eyes straight to the far side of the room, where floor-to-ceiling windows offer stunning 180-degree views of Metro Manila below.
“It’s hands down my favorite part of the home,” John admits, sharing that the large windows were really the highlight of the living and dining areas. “The space fills with an orange glow every evening when the sun goes down. It’s spectacular.”
An insurance executive, John has always been interested in design, and enjoys buying and redecorating homes before leasing them out or selling them. “Any day, any time, I could window shop for furniture and accessories,” he shares. “In high school, I was excited about residential architecture but business administration won me over.”
“I would say my design style is urban eclectic. I’m particular when it comes to design, but I like whimsy in my spaces, just like I enjoy some humor in a serious conversation,” John continues. That juxtaposition is certainly seen here—modern black and gray tones are played up with bright patterned wallpaper and home décor in pops of color.
John admits, though, that he didn’t have a specific look or style in mind when he was creating the space. “I wanted to work with texture, pattern and color,” he says, laughing when he realizes that these are things that might not necessarily come together easily. “In the wallpaper, polished concrete, paint and building materials, I was able to combine them with a certain harmony, rather than a clash.”
“I’m particular when it comes to design, but I like whimsy in my spaces, just like I enjoy some humor in a serious conversation.” -John
The patterns really come into play through the wallpaper John picked for two bedrooms. “I wanted to really bring the bedrooms to life, and the bold patterns worked!” John says and adds that he had gotten the wallpaper from Studio 11 along Amorsolo in Makati. “The master bedroom needed to feel natural, so the oversized green pattern and walnut floors really helped me forget the city on the other side of the glass. The second bedroom was something fun. When I bought the pattern, I asked if anyone else had purchased it. The salesmen told me no, so I had to get it!”
John softens the effect of the bold prints with modern furniture. “I hat to admit it, but some of the furniture is mainstream, like IKEA. I lived in Hong Kong before moving to the Philippines, and some of the pieces I brought with me—from OVOHOME, TREE,” he explains.
There are some pieces, of course, that come with their own stories. “I’m particularly fond of the master bathroom vanity—it was a side table I picked up at a vintage store in Bangkal. I had it painted black, found a nice marble top and sink, and converted it into a vanity,” John recalls.
“The triptych photo in the hallway is a view of Paris taken from on top of the Arc De Triomphe, and our collection of travel photographs in the front hallway that leads to the study.” Arranged carefully around the unit are also antiques that he’d gotten on trips to Istanbul, Myanmar, Cambodia and other destinations.
Infusing good, contemporary design with personality is something that John seems to have mastered, but he admits it didn’t come so easy. “I had too many ideas!” he exclaims. “Like packing for a trip or getting ready to go out, it’s critical to edit. This was one of my more creative projects, and sometimes having too many ideas got the best of me.”
Of course, John will be getting more practice—he currently has another Makati condo unit in the works. “It’ll take on a much lighter and fresher feeling,” he reveals. “I’d like to use white, cream and wood tones, and apply color in accessories.”
With design being a personal passion, John is clearly not confining himself to one particular design aesthetic—each project becomes a character onto itself, and he’s happily gathering more ideas for future spaces. “Research your ideas first. Pinterest and Instagram offer all sorts of inspiration—you’ll find some gems, and maybe some rotten apples,” he advises people who plan on giving decorating a try. “If you think you know what you really want but need to manage the budget, go with earth tones, creams and solid colors for the biggest pieces. Bring color and texture in the accessories—plus, you can afford to change these more often than your sectional sofa!”