A Space to Savor: House of Noods by Alero Design Studio

The House of Noods is proof that teamwork makes the dream work, with Alero Design Studio bringing life to a couple’s vision of a smart, pet-friendly, industrial-inspired home

Words Gabrielle de la Cruz
Images Greg Mayo

The running joke for people who have heard about the House of Noods is “Why the name? Is the space’s design inspired by noodles?” or “Are guests entitled to free noodles when they visit?” The owners of the 156-square-meter condominium unit, Jolly Estaris and Aldwin Angeles, clear the air: “It’s all just because of our pets! We have a Russian Blue cat named Noodle, a West Highland Terrier dog named Soba, and a fighting fish we call Sotanghon.”

The couple, who work in digital marketing, shared that they prepared an extensive, 20-paged brief that called for a smart home that is pet-friendly, with an industrial-inspired design that integrates color. What welcomed Kanto during the tour is a space characterized by brick walls, earthy tones and textures, and pops of color brought by furniture and decorative pieces. The warm yet bright atmosphere of the home belies the gentle yet quirky nature of the couple (and the pets) living within.

“We would describe our home’s aesthetic as eclectic industrial,” Estaris shared, revealing that he is the one particular about the space’s look. “My passion for design traces back to when I was younger and was a fan of interior designer Nate Berkus and how he did makeovers for the Oprah Winfrey Show. I’ve been collecting industrial pegs for this dream house since 2017. However, Aldwin and I aren’t minimalists. So, we wanted to get away from the typical industrial look with deep blacks and metal. This is our first time sharing a space, so we made sure that the design reflects both our personalities.” Apart from the varying textures in the home, what makes the space unique are the bits that reveal the owners’ individual characteristics, such as playful local artworks and cartoon and film collectibles distributed all throughout the unit.

Upon entrance, a foyer with Polaroid photos of the House of Noods’ guests can be found on the right. Opposite this is a small hallway adorned with a piece by local artist Jesse Camacho. The hallway leads to the master and guest bedrooms and bathrooms.

Warming up

The couple revealed that they considered three designers for the space, but it was Alero Design Studio’s “understanding of color and materiality” that made them stand out. The studio initially created a render for the House of Noods’ kitchen, one that resonated with the couple. “We initially thought that what they were presenting to us was a peg! There was this specific industrial kitchen photo that I included in the brief which incorporated the color blue, and I was surprised to find that they were able to make it happen!” Estaris said. “We specifically liked the ceiling treatment that they did, which is called a coffered ceiling. We honestly never heard of this before, but we like how it added that brutalist feel to our kitchen.”

In terms of timeline and budget, the House of Noods’ road to completion was largely smooth sailing. Estaris shared that he initially acquired a one-bedroom unit years ago, but the delays in turnovers allowed him to save up for a bigger space. “Construction took around 6 months, which is relatively fast considering the building requirements and spatial adjustments. Regarding the budget, we did have an initial amount planned but ended up spending a bit more than that. Alero helped us in distributing the budget across all parts of the home.” Angeles said that everything in their space is a “mix of the highs and the lows” in terms of price, as certain elements would not stand out without the others.

The House of Noods’ kitchen is Angeles’ favorite part as he does most of the cooking. Estaris’ favorite part is the powder room, an “Under the Sea” themed space. They shared that Alero’s render was initially jungle-themed, but they found the exact wallpaper in one of Alero’s pegs and went on with the new theme. The wallpaper and tiles that appear to have streaks of light are essential in making the vision of stepping into a portal or new dimension happened.

The main bowl

House of Noods is located in a circular building and a relatively high floor, with its glazed glass windows showcasing views of the city. The building’s windows are originally cut into two tiers, a mechanism that Alero chose to keep to allow natural light in while filtering heat. Almost everything in the space is automated by SmartAge, so the window blinds can easily be monitored to go up and down depending on the owners’ desired light setting. “Apparently, there are 162 lights in this house,” Estaris revealed. “Of course, we don’t use them all at once, but we usually prefer using warm light. The natural light from the windows is very helpful, and we can attest that it doesn’t get too hot even during peak hours.”

The original layout of the three-bedroom unit included a closed kitchen, with the third bedroom (now the House of Noods’ office) next to the living area. Project designer Miguel Macam of Alero Design Studio shared that they “made the most out of the space’s parameters” to address the spatial requests of the users. To free the space from restrictions, the original kitchen door was removed. Operable sliding doors were also incorporated to act as soft partitions between certain areas throughout the home. Intimate spaces such as the master and guest bedrooms are tucked in the left and more private side of the unit. “The layout was changed in such a way that we can have less excess space and more storage,” Estaris continued. “We learned a lot from Alero in terms of cutting a certain portion from a space so it can serve as a room for another.”

Like all residences, House of Noods also has a designated space to hide all the clutter. The utility area can be found in the rightmost corner of the unit, where all wiring and other items are stored. “This wire situation is way better than before, but we are still working on it,” the owners jested. “We also decided to place our washing machine and pet sink here just because.”

While achieving the design vision was a priority for House of Noods, the owners underscored their unwillingness to compromise on the smart functions and pet-friendly aspects of their space. It’s safe to say that the goal was not just to convert a typical condominium unit into a space that looks and feels like a home, but a space that acts and functions as one.

Added flavors

Another element that adds flair to the House of Noods is the distribution of potted flora throughout the space. Alero Design Studio revealed that part of the brief was to be able to make room for an estimated 40 plant pots, a challenge that the studio did not back out on. “The plants were collected by the clients during the quarantine, and they were a non-negotiable part of the move. Not everything was saved, but the majority are thriving within the space,” shared Jesy Cruz, co-founder and principal of Alero Design Studio. Two Suamei plants can easily be spotted in the common area, one placed right next to the sofa in the living area and another standing in the kitchen corner. “The Suamei plants are not part of the original collection. I actually just asked for one but Alero got me two!” Estaris shared. “I specifically like them as they carry that Japanese Zen energy, making the home look more relaxed.”

During the tour, Angeles and Estaris were also discussing more art pieces that they wish to bring into their home. One of their friends even had a painting of their cat, Noodle, done as a housewarming gift. “We aren’t the biggest art connoisseurs, but we like how Alero influenced us to welcome more art into our space. While we were firm on our vision, it was the communication with Alero that allowed us to learn more about project management. Both of us are from the digital marketing industry, so we like to structure and organize tasks. Aldwin would even send a list of action points to the team every week, and they would deliver,” Estaris shared. The Alero team, on the other hand, says they could not be more thankful to have such hands-on clients. “What I personally liked from this client-designer relationship is how we were able to establish the ‘You speak, I listen. I speak, you listen’ dynamic. It’s good to have clients who know what they want but still hold high regard for other design opinions,” Macam said.

Iric Von Singson, who also formed part of the design team, said that this project is a good example of Alero’s design philosophy of “developing highly creative and personal solutions” for the clients. This is evident in the way both designers and clients curated patterns and pieces that fit not only the space but also the lifestyle of the users. House of Noods came to be a space to savor, evident in how the owners now prefer working from home and staying in.

Toward the end of the conversation, I then asked Angeles and Estaris the ultimate question: Now that you are both living in your dream space, is there anything else you’d like changed? Do you see yourself living here long-term, or would a dream home be in the works soon?

“I definitely see myself living here for the next few years. I do think I still have one left in me to build a home. Maybe when I’m 50, I’ll do that. But I think at this stage of our lives, we’re good with living in the city. Is there anything I’d like changed? I don’t know, you go first,” Estaris gestured towards Aldwin. “Maybe a manual bidet in our bathroom. This Japanese smart toilet is not it!” Angeles jested. “Or maybe a range hood with a different shape, because I grilled steaks the other day and it was a bit of a struggle for the existing cylindrical range hood to suck in all the smoke. I like it design-wise but maybe we have yet to explore certain parts of our home functionality-wise. But really, I can’t think of anything major.”

“Well, that only means you’re completely happy with how the space came out,” I said to the couple. “Definitely!” The two chorused. •

Gabrielle de la Cruz started writing about architecture and design in 2019. She previously wrote for BluPrint magazine and was trained under the leadership of then editor-in-chief Judith Torres and previous creative director Patrick Kasingsing. Read more of her work here and follow her on Instagram @gabbie.delacruz.


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