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The Homes of Zee

House Tour: A Modern Bohemian Apartment with a Twist

A mix of cultural pieces, colorful artwork and interesting furniture can be found in designer Lani Pasquet’s chic residence.

“Eclectic glam,” the photographer Maitina Borromeo says about the flat Lani Pasquet shares with Jay Chiongbian before the day of the photoshoot. It’s something said with some backing, considering Maitina is a close friend of Lani and had actually offered some insight into the home’s final look. “I couldn’t find the words to really describe it, but that would be it. I looked it up online, and it’s actually a thing.”

As it turns out, the description is pretty accurate. The two-bedroom apartment is a play on textures, colors and materials that came together for a sophisticated, wordly aesthetic. It shouldn’t be a surprise really, considering Lani’s family’s La Galuche brand is known for their shagreen-lined quirky-chic pieces.

“It’s really mostly whatever Jay already had in his house, and the pieces that I had gathered through the years,” Lani says, laughingly admitting that she really didn’t have a specific look in mind at all. “I just put them all together and gave them my bohemian twist. It still keeps on changing, depending on what I have in the warehouse.”

For his part, Jay jokes that he didn’t get to have as big of an input in the home’s design. “I didn’t have a say in this at all. She’d ask me what I thought and I’d say something, and she’d do the exact opposite. But that’s how women are, right?” he adds in jest.

Located in an older condominium building, the flat is considerably larger than some of the places available in the market today, although Jay admits it was partly through their own efforts. “We changed a lot of things to make it more spacious,” Jay explains, pointing out some alterations—the door was moved further into the hallways for a more spacious foyer, they tore down the kitchen and service kitchen walls for a more open floor plan, repositioned the bedroom doors for a more optimal use of space, and closed off parts of the balconies. “This was actually a three-bedroom unit, but we took down the wall between two of them for a bigger master bedroom.”

The careful consideration given to maximizing space makes an incredible impact, giving the living areas an airy feel that’s further complemented by the view—the 18th hole of Cebu Country Club’s golf course. The large open area next door often brings with it a cool breeze, along with a few stray golf balls that are “courtesy of Bob Booth and Jiji Gullas. That’s why we have the screens,” Jay laughs, referring to the windows’ protective covers. “But it’s also nice because we see a lot of our friends play through.”

Inside, the open space gave Lani a blank canvas to bring in her pieces. She begins talking about the stories behind some of the items in the home—a red coral that had been given by a friend who moved away, African pieces that her grandfather had acquired from when he’d lived in Nigeria, a basket designed by Marguerite Lhuillier, some Chinese pieces that had belonged to Jay’s family. 

What’s noticeable though is an abundance of lamps. “She loves lamps. Every time she goes somewhere, she brings back a lamp,” Jay says. “I don’t think she realizes it.”

Apparently, she does. Some of the lamps had been acquired from traveling, like the orange one with the Vietnamese figure, and the bedside lamps that she’d bought in Bali. “A lot of the lamps are from Bali. One time, I went into a store to look at one lamp, and I came home with a whole container full of lamps,” she laughs. The others come with their own interesting backstory—the capiz lamp had been a gift from a friend after a large capiz order, the shell ceiling lamp in the terrace was bought at a neighboring booth from Bacolod during a Cebu X furniture show.

The word eclectic comes to mind again, when going through the different rooms of the house. The living area is marked by a zebra hide, giving a touch of whimsy to the more classic pieces like the low dark wooden coffee table that had been in Gilt, a bar that Jay used to own, and the purple sofa with colored throw pillows. A pair of white armchairs frames the space—sitting next to a window is an oversized one with a gilded frame that had been a gift from furniture designer Carlo Cordaro, and the Detalia Aurora chair that Lani had customized with ostrich skin sits in the middle of the room. As a playful touch, a hippo peeks out from the tableau.

Just off the living area is the dining table, which sits on a woven area rug that dogs Java and Candra like racing around on. Off to the side is an antique buffet that had also been in Gilt. “Maitina had actually found it, in Carbon, and it turned out the place wasn’t even an antique store,” Jay laughs. “She, Lani and Delphine (Delorme) had been antique shopping, and they were going from store to store. The next one, where they found this, was actually just someone’s house.”

The kitchen, with its sheer black paneling and spacious counter was the only thing that Lani had been particular about. “I love to cook. I cook everyday,” she explains, adding that she had designed it after an Italian kitchen. “I wanted to have a wide enough space so I can entertain on the counter, because I love having my friends over, and we can talk and eat while I cook.” 

The bedrooms also have their own character, beginning with the spare bedroom that Lani had previously used as a yoga studio. “But when Gilt closed, Jay started using it as a home office,” she recalled. Now, one wall is covered completely by a Delphine Delorme painting that used to be at Gilt’s entrance—the striking pop-art piece is complemented by minimal furnishings for a maximum effect.

After its expansion, the master’s quarters is considerably spacious, with enough room for a boudoir and vanity, as well as a small nook that had previously been a balcony and where Lani now does her yoga. Artwork and Persian rugs come in as accents to the furniture pieces. A walk-in closet and bathroom are equally chic, with stone tiles for the walls and floors in the shower area, a cone-shaped shagreen sink with a mother of pearl basin, and gilded details on the closet doors.

“I spend most of my time in the kitchen,” Lani admits when asked what her favorite corner in the house is. “But I also like the bedroom—lounging around and reading in bed or the boudoir, and enjoying the breeze from outside.”

Probably the most notable thing about the home is how it all comes together with an air of insouciance, as if everything had just casually fallen into place—something that could probably be attributed to Lani’s French side. 

In any case, Maitina remains correct in her initial depiction of the place—eclectic chic. She adds later, “It’s very grown-up,” and that’s true as well. The home represents a woman with an eye for design, an appreciation for the finer things in life, and a whole lot of personality—and in the end, the woman who lives there is exactly that.    


Photography by Maitina Borromeo

Originally published in Zee Lifestyle, Dec-Jan 2017

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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The Homes of Zee

Seashore Seclusion: A Beachside Abode in San Remigio

A cozy family getaway in San Remigio epitomizes the charm and simplicity of living by the sea.

by Shari Quimbo
photography Ezekiel Sullano


Admittedly, there are some challenges that come with living in Cebu; but having pockets of paradise being only a few hours’ away is an upside that’s hard to beat. One such paradise is San Remigio, a town that sits on the northwest side of the island, which means its serene shores are kissed daily by an amazing view of the sunset. Sure, you’ll run into some traffic while driving out of the city, but what awaits you makes the drive up north an easy challenge to live with.

A walkway leads into the house’s main living area, which enjoys an open floor plan for a relaxed and communal atmosphere.

When a chance to visit one family’s beachside getaway landed on our laps, we couldn’t pass it up. After a brief struggle with Mandaue City traffic, we were soon cruising through the towns of the north while the crystalline blue waters of the ocean peeked through every few kilometers.

It wasn’t long after when we found ourselves going up a pebbled driveway where a bamboo gate opened up to a footpath that led to the house. “We wanted to keep it simple,” the owner explains, sharing that he came up with the design while going through photos of houses online. With a thatched roof, rounded columns and a grooved concrete fence, the space is cozy and informal—a place that definitely exuded a laid-back beachside feel.

The living areas integrate into each other, with casual dining set-ups arranged around the open space, while oversized couches surround a solid wood coffee table. There’s a communal vibe that’s slightly deliberate. “We have a lot of friends and family that come in during the weekends, so we created a space that’s ready for that,” says the owner. “We didn’t want anything too formal. Some beach houses make you feel embarrassed to come in with your wet, sandy feet. We want a place where everyone would be comfortable moving around.”

Natural tones are complemented by richly colored fabrics

That said, the concrete floors, made for walking around barefoot, lead to the manicured grass where the infinity pool looks like its about to spill out into the beach below. The blues of the sea and sky complement the more natural tones of the house’s wooden furniture pieces and painted white walls. Pops of color come in with the throw pillows, hammock and matching bright orange lounge chairs that are around the pool.

As if keeping with the house’s casual vibe, the owner’s trio of dogs roams freely around the property, curiously coming up to us for attention. “They just showed up one day,” he laughs when I ask where he’d gotten the dogs, named Beer, Tequila and Scotch—perhaps giving proof of how fun weekends here can be. A bar sits by one of the dining tables and further cements this theory, as does the homemade lamp made from a bottle of Patron.

Off to the side of the house are the bedrooms, which are simple but spacious. “It’s so there’s space on the floor to bring in cushions for when we have a lot of people over.”

The house’s infinity pool seemingly spills out into the ocean, and is one of the best locations on the property to watch the sunset.

The beach house took just two months to construct about two years ago. “Weirdly enough, we built this house while I was still living in Malaysia,” shares the owner. “My sister manages a construction company, and I would just email them instructions and photos of what I wanted. Surprisingly, it was pretty easy.”

The bar is stocked with a wide array of liquors, and is proof of the residence’s festive spirit.

Of course, when typhoon Yolanda hit northern Cebu, the house saw considerable damage. A quick browse through his photo gallery showed the roof completely ripped off the structure. “I came back the weekend after Yolanda. It took me almost a whole day to get here because we had to clear the road as we went,” he recalled.

Repairs to the house took a backseat as the family helped residents around the area before they moved to reconstruct their own house. “It took a month or so to fix the roof and everything else that was broken,” he says.

When lit up with candles in the late afternoon, the walkway takes on a cozily intimate vibe;

Long benches flank the dining table to accommodate plenty of diners.

Now, the house is as inviting as ever. We spent the minutes leading up to sunset drinking beer by the pool. A few fishing boats float off the shore, with many locals walking through the beach. “I like the idea of having no fences and having people passing through,” the owner shares. “I like that it’s open. It makes the house feel more alive.”

Sunsets by the beach are priceless.

That, in a nutshell, describes the beach house. With its cheerful, casual corners, it surely feels lived in—as if remnants of the happy moments people have spent there still hang in the air and even add to its personality. It’s not hard to understand why the owners look forward to the two-hour drive up on the weekends—if we had a space like this, we’d be heading north more often too.


(This article had already been published in Zee Lifestyle’s April 2016 Travel Issue, “Beach, Please” on pages 98-101.)

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The Homes of Zee

Idyllic Isolation: The La Mer Veille

French architectural duo Humbert & Poyet create La Mer Veille in the Italian Riviera, a seaside cabin that has its fair share of charm.

by Shari Quimbo
photos courtesy of Alexandra Public Relations


With the azure sea on one side, the verdant mountains on the other and picturesque towns in between, the Italian Riviera is certainly a dream destination. More than its natural beauty, the region seems frozen in another time—a simpler one, when the days seemed long and the people keen to enjoy the moments.

It is here that La Mer Veille sits, a beachfront cabin that epitomizes the simple summer escape. Nestled between Bordighera and San Remo, its stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea are complemented by its predominantly white palette, down-to-earth décor and delicate materials.

The house is the creation of French architects Emil Humbert and Christophe Poyet, the personalities behind the firm Humbert & Poyet. Since they decided to collaborate in 2007, the firm has worked on various projects around the world—the Wine Palace at the Monaco Yacht Club, the curated fashion store 55 Croisette in Cannes, and fashion designer Alexis Mabille’s first shop in Paris are just some of the projects the two have worked on together.

“We communicate constantly throughout a project,” Christophe explains. “Our symbiosis forms the foundations of our projects and ensures the space that we’ve imagined works.”

The result is elegant and timeless spaces that meticulously bring together various design elements—the choice of materials and lighting, for example, are carefully thought out to make the most of a space and to ensure the client’s needs and personality is reflected in the final design.

It’s understandable then why La Mer Veille sits at a perfect vantage point where it surroundings can be admired. The seaside cabin is simple and relatively small, but is put together to exude an unassuming luxury that dares not to compete with the views outside.

The living area, shared with the dining room and kitchen, is done in shades of white with earthy tone accents. The Carrara marble counters are complemented with brass fixtures, including a brass sink that was custom-made by Humbert & Poyet. The firm also specially constructed the sofa that sits opposite the wooden table, a find from a market in England. Straw-wrapped lighting, an old-fashioned fireplace and a brass backsplash for the stove just add to the overall rustic appeal.

The bedrooms also have that effortless charm, with various nautical details to remind its occupants they are by the sea—just in case they forget the views beyond the picture windows. The master bedroom features a mattress sitting on an elevated wooden platform, topped with an Ancient African throw purchased from an antique shop.

“We communicate constantly throughout a project,” Christophe explains. “Our symbiosis forms the foundations of our projects and ensures the space that we’ve imagined works.”

La Mer Veille is a space that celebrates its location, and its location is best enjoyed from the terrace. The creamy white palette is carried over to this outdoor space where distressed wooden floorboards and a cushioned seating area invite you to put up your feet and settle in. The mood is set even further with a hammock chair from Etsy hanging easily from the ceiling and some relaxing music from the piano.

Emil Humbert and Christophe Poyet

Beyond its architectural details, it is the finishing touches that give this dreamy cabin its character—bunches of baby’s breath and other flowers tucked into pitchers and vases in various niches around the house, wooden stools with rounded seats, antique-inspired knickknacks like an old fan sitting on a shelf and a swinging love seat. These details make the house come to life in an interesting way; and with a view such as this, what a life it is.

(This article had already been published in Zee Lifestyle’s May 2016 Home Issue, “By the Sea” on pages 72-77.)

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