‘I like mixing up my toile de Jouy and moldings with rustic elements like a rattan chair that’s shaped like the mid-century Le Chaise,’ says Apples Aberin.
The past 10 months of cocooning have reawakened our creative spirits. We have seen our friends discover the inner cook/gardener/artist hiding beneath their corporate persona. For many people, it has been a time for redecorating their homes and breathing new life and joy into their nests.
Pandemic or not, Apples Aberin is one person who is restlessly creative. This supermodel and woman of style, who is Unilever’s head of public relations, posted a photo of her renovated living room on Instagram, which made me curious. I asked her a question and this led to a long chat with her:
What made you go for a new look in your home?
It’s been more than four years since I did a renovation, so our home definitely needed a bit of fluffing. Although I still loved how it actually looked, I was also thinking of adding a few pieces here and there to refresh the look and feel.
Also, over the pandemic, I realized that the function of the living room changed. I’m not a big TV person, but the kids wanted a common area where we could gather to watch TV. So, we had to change the arrangement of the furniture to accommodate a new television (I finally gave in!). To make myself feel better about this compromise, I bought a pretty yellow, oriental console table to offset the look of the TV.
What look did you have in mind?
When my friend, interior designer Nina Santamaria, and I renovated it then, we wanted to create a little jewelbox that was filled with pieces I loved. Every item was personally chosen by me with Nina’s help. We patiently looked for toile de Jouy wallpaper, which we eventually had to order from the UK, scoured Manila for unique items like my rattan chair that’s shaped like the mid-century Le Chaise.
We had most of the furniture made in the style and color of fabric that Nina and I handpicked and we even paid special attention to how we wanted to light the space. It turned out to be a beautiful space. Nina knows me well and she did a wonderful job.
How do you describe your style at home?
My style is very eclectic. As much as I appreciate symmetry, I don’t like things that are matchy-matchy. So, I like mixing up my toile de Jouy and moldings with earthy or rustic elements like a rattan chair. I like creating interesting nooks and crannies with special little things that make me happy, be it art or fashion books, fragrant candles, gifts from loved ones, or special finds from trips abroad. And flowers — lots of flowers!
Ultimately, I want my home to always feel warm, welcoming and a haven for anyone who visits.
Was there a design person who inspired you?
So many people inspire me when it comes to the home. I find myself gravitating towards the likes of Aerin Lauder. I love how she dresses, decorates her house, creates her tablescapes when entertaining. Her style is very French country. I would love to have her pieces, but I’d mix them up with traditional Filipino pieces like the Butaca or birthing chair, or hardwood furniture pieces with solihiya details.
Did you work with a team to help you transform your vision?
Cyndi and Mado Beltran, aka Mr. and Mrs. B of Moss Design House were the ones responsible for fluffing my home and creating a Modern French Eclectic look. I’ve worked with Cyndi and Mado for more than 10 years and our great partnership has actually grown into a solid friendship. They’ve been instrumental in turning the events I mount here and abroad into iconic and memorable experiences.
I love their style, how they pay attention to detail and aim for perfection. So, when it was time to fluff up my space, it was a natural match. Cyndi knows me well, so it was a very effortless experience. She explained the look she wanted to create, the elements we were going to add, such as the étagères I’ve been wanting for some time now, and the color story she was going to use.
We also discussed certain mandatories. I wanted to retain elements or pieces from the former renovation. The toile de Jouy wallpaper, for example, was something I could not part with. I also wanted to keep my Murano chandelier, rattan Le Chaise-like lounge and the Milo Naval dining table. Cyndi happily obliged and worked around these, yet managed to create a space that looked totally fresh, exciting and new.
What is your favorite part of your home?
I really love the living area, even with the new TV. I adore the new color scheme of gray and mustard, with occasional pops of color via the deep-red toile throw pillows. The zebra rug, which is named Marty and actually came from director Mike Carandang, added a playful dimension, reflecting my eclectic style. I adore the new center table made of two kinds of marble that Cyndi also designed, plus how she composed all the different elements on top. And I finally got not one but two, étagères that are chockfull of my favorite books and knick-knacks.
Aside from the fact that the space is simply beautiful, I especially love the area because this is where my kids and I hang out to watch TV or just sit and bond.
Any sentimental treasures that you would perhaps save first in case of a fire?
The most sentimental treasures are the artworks that artist Mr. Malang gave me. These pieces are personally dedicated to me and have special meaning. One work was done on a paper plate, where he stuck a 3D apple on top of the woman he painted. Another one was done on the gift box I sent him for Christmas. I remember clearly how tickled pink I was to realize that he was giving me back the cardboard box with his art as my Christmas gift.
Prior to the renovation, the works of art were just stored in different parts of the house. But now, Cyndi gave them a special place of honor on my living room wall. Now I have a Malang wall that sparks so much joy and wonderful memories.
What makes a home beautiful?
A home is beautiful when it has personal touches and reflects the personality and aesthetics of the people who live there. More importantly, a home is beautiful when it is a warm, welcoming sanctuary where love and harmony abound.
* * *
Follow the author @milletmartinezmananquil on Instagram and Facebook. Email her at [email protected].