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The Homes of Zee

Little House, Big Ideas

La Maïon’s history is given a modern touch with its conversion into creative offices and a getaway that is as stylish a destination as the French Riviera where it’s located.

by Andrea Aldeguer

With its mixture of year-round sunshine, art deco facades and old world lavishness, Nice captures the glamour and lifestyle of the French Riviera perfectly. For Jacques Chahine’s pied à terre on the Riviera, he wanted a house with personality and style, and just the right size. The project was created to house their offices in the area, but mainly Jacques envisioned it as a hideaway where he could be alone with his creativity. Finding this La Maïon on the way to the airport was “love at first sight. This house for me is like a nice antique chest of drawers that belonged to my grandma.”

La Maïon has four levels: the two upper floors are for Jacques’ personal use—which peers over the port of Nice—and the offices occupy the lower levels, which opens to a garden and a small yard. He chose yellow, ochre and white hues to catch and reflect the light, the Côte d’ Azur way. To keep the French Riviera effect all the way to the attic, he installed a glass floor. “This way, nothing could obscure the space,” he explains. Black touches to the pale interiors bring rhythm and make the eyes dance, adding a modern character to a house with so much history.

La Maïon is considerably a historic place. “Originally, it was the toll house for the park of Saint Aignan, which is no longer in existence,” he shares. Of this age, he kept the 19th century stained glass window, which had been restored. The furniture was chosen for its natural facet, a juxtaposition between Provençal simplicity and oriental characteristics. Old prints, antiques, and a light and fertile ambiance reflect Jacques himself.

When you walk up to the door, the doorknocker reminds you of the original vocation of the house as a tollhouse and gatekeeper’s lodge. The stark architecture and character of the house is immediately noticed. When you step inside, the white palette allows the sun to peek through the windows and lends a soft touch of light through the whole space. In the main room are old architectural prints covering majority of the wall, while archeological elements and the Becara chandelier hang above the glass slab supported by old wrought-iron trestles. The spaces are furnished with Moucharaby chairs, little elements brought all the way from Beirut and painted white for a second life.

Using strong visual motifs allows structuring of the space, like the black stripes in a pale room that creates an eye-catching geometrical effect. The windows around the main room were originally 19th century stained glass windows, but refurbished by l’Atelier St. Didier. “The effects of symmetry have always captivated me, as much as the contrast of black and white,” says Joseph Karam, the designer behind the firm Jacques works with.

The system cabinet is tucked under the staircase, inspired by craft furniture, and hides the sink and other electrical elements under its sliding top. It’s a kitchen, then, that becomes invisible. From a functional standpoint, a concealed mixer tap on the system cabinet is practical for washing dishes while looking through the window. The splashes of yellow in the room, like the flowers and the fruits, tie the contrast of black and white elements together.

Once you go up the fourth floor, the double exposure from either side of the ceiling has sunshine radiating right above the bed, offering a stunning view of the port. The sun’s rays shine from the ground floor as well, having the Côte d’ Azur feel extend its way to the fourth floor. Seating in the attic are Louis XV-style armchairs, raw stripped with laced natural linen seating. Lastly, a marble shower reflects the luminosity of the attic in the bathroom.

The La Maïon is a house of character that transcends timeless elegance through its history. It’s given new life as Jacques Chanine’s perfect haven as a creative outlet, or simply a place to get away from the big city.

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Trendy Renovation Ideas for your Home or Condo.

by Christa M. Cañizares IDr.

Part 1: Plan the Space to Suit your Needs.

A.)  Decide on a theme that reflects your personality. You can start by browsing through the internet and make a mood board on the colors, patterns, furniture and accessories that you love.

Create a mood board based your preferred colors, theme and style.

B.)  Work on your budget. This is essential to any renovation project. You can start with window shopping and scout for the key pieces and compare prices. You can also browse home products and purchase them online.

Do your homework online and window shop for key furniture pieces.

C.)  Invest in good and durable pieces.  Start with the big items that you often use. Your mattress tops the list as this is where you rest and recharge. Big items such as sofas and dining sets should be durable enough to withstand the everyday wear and tear. Choose a design that can easily go well with your space when you redecorate.

Choose a bed that works for you and becomes the focal point of your room.


IDr. Christa M. Cañizares, piid
Founding Member, Philippine Institute of Interior Designers – Cebu Chapter
Principal Designer, CMC Interior Design
Specializes in residential and commercial design.
A homebody and renovation aficionado.

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The Homes of Zee

THROWBACK THURSDAY. Discover Why This Airy, Modern Structure in Busay is Called the Sky House

The Sky House is a truly modern structure, with straight lines and boxy shapes.

Defying Gravity

YKC Premier’s first venture in Busay floats over a cliff and introduces a new brand of living in Cebu.

by Shari Quimbo photography Ezekiel Sullano


YKC Premier’s first venture couldn’t be more aptly named—Sky House was spot on—the airy, modern structure that juts out of a ridge in the Busay Highlands couldn’t be called anything else. The drive up the hill levels to a short plateau right before the entrance of the village, allowing ample time for everyone to look up and admire a house that seems to be in defiance of gravity.

“When I saw the property, it was everything you could ask for, and it’s in limited quantities so we wanted to maximize all its assets,” says Victor Consunji, one-third of the group behind the project. “The problem was the land is narrow. Since we have the experience and capability, we thought, why waste all the good things about this property by just building on the ridge? Why not build over the ridge?”

The house, as viewed from the street.

A textured carpet sets the living area apart from the dining, but the palette of grays and light-washed wood carries on even into the kitchen. The room is framed by two art pieces: a rattan sculpture called “Love Locks” by Selina Romualdez, and a painting from young artist Tzaddi Esguerra.

Slater Young and Stephen Ku complete YKC Premier, a group of men who have come together to redefine the art of living with a view in Cebu. “Slater and I have been friends for a while, and I bumped into him at a wedding here in Cebu,” Stephen recalls. “And then we were talking about businesses that we could do together, and he mentioned that he had a nice piece of land that he wanted to fix up. He showed me the place, and I thought it was beautiful. On the way back to Manila, I thought about Vic because I’m also working with him on his project in Manila called Mahogany Tree.”

The trio of Twist lamps over the dining table add an organic, but dramatic flair.

A sunroom off the deck is converted into a cozy breakfast nook, where another of Vito’s lamps adds a touch of whimsy.

Once the three sat down to discuss the venture, Victor was immediately interested and, in fact, already had a vision for the house’s design in his mind. The partnership played up each one’s individual strengths and backgrounds—Victor comes from the family behind DMCI Holdings Incorporated, which have constructed Philippine landmarks such as the Manila Hotel and Shangri-La’s Mactan Island Resort; Slater has a background in engineering and his family is also in construction; while Stephen is at the helm of Eventscape Manila and is behind some of the hottest restaurants and nightspots in the Philippines. “Victor would be the CEO, the visionary. His expertise is what we brought in here,” explains Slater. “And since I’m also in construction, I was sort of his eyes here in Cebu. I’d be the CTO, Chief Technical Officer, and Stephen would be the CMO, marketing.”

The Constella lights hang over the spiral staircase.

A pair of Vito Selma Paisley chairs are arranged in one corner of the master’s bedroom.

Although YKC Premier already has three strong personalities behind it, the guys decided to bring in another design visionary to help them complete the look of the Sky House. “The Sky House is unlike any other home in Cebu, and it was a designer’s dream to be part of it,” says Vito Selma, who brought in his iconic pieces, along with some custom-made furniture to complete the look of the Sky House. “Given its location and the abundance of windows, I wanted the home to feel just as light and airy—to simulate the feeling of flight. And to stay true to my brand, we just wanted to bring nature into the home, which can be seen in the materials, textures and colors in the space.”

The Arata chair serves as a sculptural accent in one of the bedrooms.

The look is relaxed but sophisticated, with many art pieces that Vito had commissioned especially for this project. “The installation in the entry is by me,” he says of the large textured slab with pieces of wood in different finishes scattered on it. “I made it in a way that when someone walks in the house, they see a reflection of that piece and its materials in other areas of the home.” Other notable pieces are in the living room: a large rattan sculpture of interlocking loops by Vito’s sister Selina Romualdez, and a long painting with strokes in various shades of gray by Tzaddi Esguerra. “I love working with her for all our projects,” Vito admits. “We tell her what colours to work with, and she makes the magic happen.”

With the house finished in just over a year, the guys are looking forward to constructing seven more houses to complete the project, offering a lifestyle that is incredibly appealing. “Young, hip urbanites. Young families. If they’re young, they at least feel young,” says Stephen of who they see living in the space. “People who want to balance work and play, because this place is like a residence and a resort at the same time.”

Victor’s family background and experience in construction came in handy when building the house over the ridge.

“Nowadays, with the way things are going in the Philippines, there is a focus on taking vacations, but not everybody has that chance. Not everybody can just take off whenever they want,” Victor adds. “I really don’t believe that a home is just your home, your vacation spot is just your vacation spot and your work place is just for work. I think you can have the best of all three, and this design incorporates that.”

“It’ll feel like you’re going home to a vacation every day,” Slater adds.

A pair of lounges by the pool makes for a perfect spot to enjoy the fresh mountain breeze and the unobstructed views.

Although these gents are focused on the Sky Houses for now, they look forward to bringing more of this brand of living to other locations. “We’re just looking for the right project, but I think the boys are in agreement that we really want to explore Cebu, particularly because this is the emerging market we want to be in. We just need to look for the right spot, and the right design,” Stephen says.

More than just creating modern and luxurious properties, YKC Premier hopes to change the perception of what living in Cebu can be. “That’s what we want to bring to Cebu,” Stephen shares. “I haven’t seen a development like this in Cebu, and a lot of the times I’d ask Slater, and he goes, oh no, the Cebuanos wouldn’t want to spend for something like this. I kept telling him that if we build it, they will come. Cebuanos are ready for something edgy and daring, and I think this project will be a testament to that.” With the first house already sold, that’s certainly been proven true. After all, with just one visit to the Sky House, it’s hard to imagine a better place to live.


(This article has already been published in Zee Lifestyle’s February 2016 Real Estate Issue, “Defying Gravity” on pages 68-73.)

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The Homes of Zee

LOCKDOWN FUN: Whose Crib is This?

Here’s one way residents of Cebu’s exclusive villages created their own fun during zoom parties — guessing each other’s home! Of course, you need a smart mastermind to curate the photos to make sure the homes of each of the amigas are not easy to guess.

So, here’s a short tour of homes that was paraded during this very fun game. Homes are located in Maria Luisa, Northtown Homes, Beverly Hills and a beach house too.  Oh, and one came all the way from Scotland.

We hope your zoom parties are just as fun!

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