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The joyful art of creating a home

By AIMEE MORALES Published Oct 18, 2020 9:00 am Updated Oct 17, 2020 11:05 pm

Philippine Star’s Property Report PH is bringing you Personal Spaces, a tour of the living and working spaces of some of the people in our neighborhood so we can see and learn how they live and work. We want to give them the space to highlight their practice, creations and inspirations, and share with everyone that special room or that joyful corner or nook they are most proud of.

Here we are peeking into the remarkable homes of four creative people: the Abacan couple of Bulacan; Rom Factolerin, filmmaker and writer from Laguna; Nana Buxani, a documentary photographer living in Antipolo; and Jun Cruz-Reyes, a renowned writer and professor from Hagonoy, Bulacan. We hope that you’ll be inspired enough to make your personal spaces brighter, more functional, and extraordinary!

Beautiful and functional once more: The art of upcycling items in your home

In Bulacan stands the Abacan ancestral home, which is also known as the Sophia School Vintage House. Built in 1965, its original owners were the founders of Sophia School in Meycauayan City.

Today, the house’s upkeep and overall management are entrusted to Lorenzo Abacan and his wife, Marie Ann, co-founder of the school. They turned it into their abode and a mini Filipiniana museum, mainly to show the youth a slice of the old Filipino home life.

The Abacan couple integrates old capiz windows with modern glass windows. 

Some of the remarkable pieces inside the Abacan home were from Lorenzo’s parents, including vintage Filipiniana furniture and equipment from the 1900s to the 1970s. The couple also bought a few pieces to complete the collection.

Antique collectibles and vintage pieces were upcycled to show that old things can still be used in different ways from their original purpose. According to Marie Ann, with a little creativity and innovation, anyone can upcycle old items lying around the house.

She offers the following tips to readers who are thinking of upcycling found items in their homes:

  1. Let your imagination and creativity flow.
  2. Learn from the past so you can appreciate the present.
  3. Give importance to the values of frugality, legacy and culture.
The Abacan couple upcycles old typewriters into a lampshade and quirky decors.

Upcycling furniture and home decor is a sustainable way to save money while using preloved items to create new pieces. Breathe new life into your old furniture and home decor and join the upcycling revolution. Home designers maintain that anyone can get into it — no previous skills are necessary.

Gain inspiration from some of the pieces that Lorenzo and Marie Ann created out of secondhand items. There are no limits to what you can do, so start looking around your home for your next upcycling project!

Rom Factolerin calls it the Story Room because it’s where he “writes stories, animate, edit, and film content that is related to creating stories.”

An artist’s Story Room

Rom Factolerin is a writer-filmmaker-painter living in Bay, Laguna with his partner, Tina. The house they occupy is too big for the two of them, so Rom set out to turn one of the rooms into an office-library cum studio. He calls it the Story Room because it’s where he “writes stories, animate, edit, and film content that is related to creating stories.”

The idea was hatched because of the lockdown. In the beginning, he only wanted to build a unique bookcase. And then, he decided to turn it into a library. But it was still too bare — the room measures 20 by 10 feet — so he thought of building a Story Room, moving his painting materials, computer, and drawing table inside.

Rom is particularly happy about the view from the Story Room’s window as it overlooks Mt. Kalisungan, a pond, and a 20-year-old santol tree.

Inside the room, he went for the vintage theme and look. He used old or old-looking pieces and decor, including an old baul, old-looking lamp-post-inspired light fixture, an old sewing machine repurposed as a table, and a heavy table made from a tree trunk, among other items.

Creating the Story Room is an experience that gifted Rom with this important insight: “An artist’s creativity is not limited to digital works. It is fulfilling to express one’s creativity by working with one’s environment to create functional pieces.”

He surprised even himself with this achievement because he doesn’t have a background in carpentry and woodworking. So if you are thinking of or redecorating your space or creating something for the home, do not let the lack of training or experience stop you.

Rom’s advice: “You can find YouTube tutorials that are easy to follow.”

Jun Cruz Reyes’ staircase balusters are made of bougainvillea roots and other found objects.

Art from trash

Namumulot lang ako ng kalat at basura na nagiging art o nagiging gamit din sa bahay (I pick up litter and trash, that I turn into art and functional items for the home),” says Jun Cruz Reyes, one of the country’s finest literary writers.

Reyes owns a property in Bulacan, which he is turning into a museum-library-gallery. Aside from being a writer, he is also a renowned visual artist and sculptor. His main house is a three-story structure, but the writer’s studio has a fourth floor. This is his working area, where he thinks and rests.

Reyes works with available materials, like recycled old doors, in construction and design. He created windows that can provide a healthy supply of fresh air and natural light, allowing him to save money on electricity. On clear evenings, there is a breathtaking view of the moon and stars from the top floor. In the daytime, the same space offers an expansive view of Cavite, Metro Manila, Bataan, Zambales, and Pampanga.

Reyes repurposes an old plough as a unique staircase balustrade. 

His home consumes very little energy and his kitchen waste is composted and turned into fertilizer for his gardens. Outdoors, his vegetables are planted along with ornamentals, and he uses found objects like rocks, iron vats (talyasi) and frying pans in the garden’s landscaping.

Even if you’re not an artist, you, too, can turn some of your trash into beautiful art pieces for your home. It’s a sustainable solution to the problem of too much non-biodegradable trash. Reyes hopes that more Filipinos will explore ways to save energy and recycle garbage and household waste.

Before buying the next decor or home furniture, look around first to see anything you can repurpose. The whole family can even turn this activity into an art project. Because ideally, every member of our household should learn to do their part in conserving our planet’s limited resources.

Buxani saws off a space under the staircase for LED lights and capiz window cover. 

Outside city limits

There are people from the provinces who dream of living and working in big cities. Still, more people are moving out of the hot and congested urban metropolis into more expansive and refreshing surroundings. One such former city dweller is documentary photographer, filmmaker, and painter Nana Buxani.

In 2019, she decided to leave Quezon City to move to Antipolo, eventually finding a two-bedroom house on a 4,000-sqm space complete with fruit trees, a vegetable garden, and a spacious studio for her creative work.

“We have rambutan, guyabano, mangga, kakaw, sampalok, bananas, kalamansi, sili, kaffir lime, galanggal, kamatis, and many more,” Nana enumerates — and it’s perfect because she’s also an exceptional cook. Likewise, she can plant some vegetables like alugbati, camote tops, and kangkong while enjoying the affordable prices of food and other basic items in the local market.

The house itself has big, old windows that offer a view of mango trees and, sometimes, rare birds. “There are many different birds here, also crickets and fireflies at night,” Nana says.

The wide-open spaces, silence, and cool, fresh air are conducive to creating art — artists like her can definitely thrive in this environment. The big space offers Nana the inspiration to make bigger drawings and paintings. The atmosphere nudges her to spend a lot of time reading and making art.

But before finding this perfect spot, Nana had to move through several houses and put up with the usual urban problems like lack of parking spaces, narrow streets, flooding, humid weather, and costly home rental fees. These are enough to drive anyone out of the noisy city and into the peaceful embrace of rural towns.

If you are thinking of moving to the countryside or province, property website www.onthemarket.com suggests renting a place first. This way, you’ll experience a complete immersion into the lifestyle and realities of the new space and know what you are getting into before committing to buying that countryside property.

This story originally appeared in PropertyReport.ph.