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The Homes of Zee

House Tour: A Modern Luxury Villa by the River

The COVET House Douro juxtaposes history and contemporary with modern luxury furniture brands in a traditionally built Portuguese villa.

Perhaps it’s a true sign of the times that most of the world—and the industries that thrive in it—have gone digital. There is an influx of information that now keep people constantly aware of what’s new, whether it’s the front row coverage from fashion weeks or real-time updates of the goings-on in the stock markets.

The design industry is one that has certainly benefitted from this digital dissemination. Designers, artists and craftsmen can now showcase their creations to the world with a few clicks and uploads online. There is, however, a caveat—for all the admiration that a photographed item can get, truly appreciating design requires a more sensory, holistic experience.

A curated design website, COVET Lounge is all about bringing relationships and connections back into the industry. Putting together brands, personalities and field experts, COVET Lounge presents the likes of Boca do Lobo, Circu, Koket and Maison Valentina—names that are associated with a luxurious design experience.

In order to properly showcase their roster of fine brands, COVET Lounge has showrooms around the world that allow their patrons to experience the product, but their recent venture brings that encounter to a whole new level.

“Our mission is to give a unique experience to visitors,” says Ricardo Magalhães, COVET Lounge’s co-founder and head of interior design. “More than a common showroom, we want our exclusive guests—which consist of a VIP list including the world’s top designers—not only to see our products live, but also to enter the unique world of each one of those brands and experience them through all the five senses. What we really want to celebrate is design.”

This unique world was created in the COVET House Douro, a new standard for luxury villas. The COVET House sits on the bank of the Douro River in Portugal, about 15 minutes from Porto’s historical center. The traditionally built manor evokes nostalgia for its noble past, while the terrace and swimming pool offer sweeping views of the river and the town beyond it.

Bringing together the old world charm of the structure with the modern elegance of its brands is what makes the COVET House such an incredible residence. There is a contrast to the various styles present in the house—feminine and masculine, soft and strong, vintage and contemporary. An example of such a setup can be found in one of the living areas, where a stone fireplace (covered up with a solid slab of wood) and clay tile floors are elevated with a pair of velvet sofas with gold accents and a stunning chandelier that holds it all together.

The effect is far from over-the-top, however—the house has a sort of insouciance that makes the tableaus feel effortlessly chic, while large floor-to-ceiling windows flood the rooms with natural light for an airy feel. The ornamented high ceilings further enhance its breeziness, which then serves to frame the various rooms.

The four bedrooms are done in different themes, and furnished to showcase certain brands. The master bedroom, for one, highlights Boca do Lobo, a Portuguese luxury furniture brand that specializes in uniquely designed and well-handcrafted pieces. Their room in the COVET House is punctuated by black lacquer and gold leaf for a decadent and seductive atmosphere. With its retro influences, the next room is a collaboration between Essential Home and DelightFULL, the former showcasing furniture with Mod-inspired elements and the latter offering artisanal mid-century lighting designs. The glamorous metallic pieces are grounded by white walls accents, and further enhanced by black details.

Its tagline being “Design Forces,” BRABBU is a brand that takes inspiration from nature, creating pieces that are as much a showcase of its materials as it is a functional piece of furniture.

Known for their empowering and dramatic statement pieces, Koket created a bedroom suite that encapsulates an opulent lifestyle. In shades of black and blue, a private living room creates an air of privacy and relaxation, which is complemented by the large windows and a Buddha statue. The bedroom itself features an indulgent rabbit throw on the Kelly bed, and a pair of pink Gem table lamps for a soft glow.

Maison Valentina created the bathrooms with almost whimsical design pieces and marble fittings. The result is refined spaces for a singular bath time experience.

Offering a complete design experience, the COVET House successfully brings together the historic and the contemporary by gathering today’s artisanal brands into a villa with a heritage. And although it may be well and good to admire its charms on your computer screen, COVET Lounge reassures you this space is something you’d have to see with your own eyes to truly appreciate.  

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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