From the woody elevation of Northtown Homes, Perl and Meyrick Jacalan live in a comfortably stylish residence, filled with design details that showed off the amount of thought that went into creating the space. Of course, this isn’t very surprising, considering the couple is the duo behind ASAP, an advertising agency in Cebu. Much like the work they do for their clients, the home is a collaborative creative effort that exemplifies good taste.
“We built this house from scratch. It’s a labor of love, mostly by my husband, who was very hands-on with the design and construction,” Perl shares about the Mediterranean-inspired house, which the couple and their five children have been living in since 2002. “It was particularly modeled after the hacienda-style homes in Spain—red tile roof and sunny yellow exterior.”
It also helped that their architect, Perl’s brother Ulysses Arienza, had trained and practiced in Italy and Spain. “We worked with him on the space planning and design of the house,” she recalls. “It was a perfect fit, since we knew we wanted a Mediterranean-style house with a resort feel. Our line of work is very stressful, and we wanted our home to be a haven—an oasis we return to after a hard day’s work.”
The design details followed in the hacienda theme. “Our interiors featured heavy wooden doors, arched windows and openings, rustic beamed ceilings, columns and terracotta tiles that we indent-ordered from Italy,” Perl describes. “True to the Mediterranean style, we had wrought-iron balconies and corridors, and an extensive outdoor living area. We wanted huge open spaces—we even did away with a gate, and instead have a fountain out in front of the house.” Attention was also given to the lot’s landscaping, which added to the concept.
Of course, since its construction, the couple had worked on some upgrades to the structure. “Our design sensibilities changed, and we also wanted our house to be distinctive from the other houses in the area, as majority were of Mediterranean design,” Perl shares, adding that a drive through Tuscany had brought with some new inspiration. We really loved their rustic, sunbaked look. We repainted the exterior with a rustic Tuscan color palette that leaned heavily on earthy hues.”
The couple took it further by adding stone inlays that evoked a Tuscan hillside home, and grew vines to twist around the entrance columns. “It gave our front porch some rustic charm,” Perl adds.
The interiors, although also seeing some furniture updates and paint changes, remained mostly the same. “It’s rustic yet modern, sort of eclectic,” Perl describes. The couple had collaborated on the interiors themselves, finding their background in design a great starting point for conceptualizing. “We drew our design inspiration from a mix of diverse resources, and when it comes to our pieces, less is more.”
This curated take to decorating allowed the home to grow and develop a character on its own, something that Perl and Meyrick wanted. “It’s informal, cozy with a very lived-in look. It’s definitely not a display showcase.”
A pair of imposing Grecian columns greets guests in the main hallway, immediately creating an air of spaciousness with its high ceiling. “We made it this way, as we think the hallway décor was the right place to begin—it set the tone for our home,” Perl says.
Further into the home, there is an interesting mix of new and old pieces, grounded with various wooden accents that celebrate the earthy tone established by the interiors. “We like pieces that are effortless and have a lighthearted appeal, yet with character defined by quality craftsmanship,” Perl continues. Many of the pieces were custom-made, mostly from narra, while some were retained from the couple’s previous home. Additional accents come in the form of designer pieces, such as a pair of Yin and Yang armchairs and a Yoda chair from Kenneth Cobonpue.
Art also comes into play in the home, with pieces from Filipino artists like Ang Kiukok, Malang, Michael Cacnio, Antonio Mahilum, Norma Belleza, and Manuel Baldemor, among others. There are also pieces acquired from the couple’s travels—a travel nook allows them to display souvenirs casually, while a custom-framed magnetic world map is a creative way to showcase the destinations they’ve visited.
Although the interiors seemed to have come together quite naturally, there were some complications that came with building a house from scratch. “We found that space planning was the most important, and very challenging part of the design process,” Perl admits. “We had to analyze and think about our habits and routines in order to define how each space is to be used, and how we move through each part of the house.”
However, that all pays off once the whole house actually comes together, and Perl finds great pleasure in seeing how their home has grown to be. “When you see that the pieces are working harmoniously, that’s when it becomes enjoyable. Like a puzzle, you can almost see it form, and it becomes easier to put pieces in place,” she shares. “To see it completed and your family happily living in it, it’s so fulfilling.”