Words Rosalia dela Cruz
Photography Marc Heinrich Go, Eric Beltran and Kevin Evora
We like to entertain. That was the beginning of the brief for a Sta. Elena home of a young couple who wanted to live closer to the golf course they frequented on weekends. The wife, who is the daughter of former schoolmate of Budji Layug, had her heart set on commissioning BUDJI+ROYAL Architecture+Design. For her, the design firm created homes ideal for lounging.
“This is a carte blanche project for B+R. Anything we wanted, they wanted. They let us play and were willing to be surprised, but they trusted our sensibilities. It was a very good project for us,” says interior designer Layug.
With hospitality on top of the list, the designers knew that the kitchen and dining spaces will be crucial. The types of spaces the couple requested required more space. So, upon the recommendation of the designers, they bought the adjacent lot and the property doubled in size. The house is now a prominent presence on a street corner of the subdivision with a landscaped setback from the street veiling an expansive pool and lanai which maximize the unpolluted breezes. The outdoor amenities with the unobstructed view form a panorama of the different spaces of the house, including the kitchen which flanks the pool on the ground floor.
“It is different from the usual kitchen experience because the typical spaces are usually enclosed or limited to a certain size, but here you don’t feel like your kitchen is 30 square meters. It feels like 1500,” says architect Royal Pineda.
The house has two 30-square-meter kitchens located on the property edge closer to the neighboring lot. There is an entertainment kitchen right beside the dining area and there is a service kitchen in the room adjacent to it. The designers are swift to note that the service kitchen is not the “dirty kitchen” that many Filipino homes have. It is far from that.
“Typically, a service kitchen is fitted with stainless steel counters. There used to be this dichotomy between the clean versus dirty kitchen or wet versus dry kitchen, which is waning because more people are now cooking at home. We noticed homeowners are paying more attention to these utilitarian spaces,” shares Brian Hontiveros, general manager of Modularity Home, distributor of Scavolini. Fitted with the Scavolini Evolution system, the service kitchen is a beautiful hardworking space. There are no hooks and handles here, only grooves and push mechanisms, meaning clothes, aprons, or hips will not get stubbed in the midst of work. The dove gray and white surfaces help call out spots that may be missed in cleaning so the space can be maintained meticulously.
The service kitchen and the entertainment kitchen are linked by a wooden door. As opposed to the service kitchen, which embodies utility and efficiency, the entertainment kitchen is one that invites people to stay and have a drink or two. With tall sliding doors, the space is permeable visually and physically. Two sides of the kitchen open up to the lanai and expand the dining capacity from ten to thirty. With four guest bedrooms in the house, the homeowners can even comfortably host stayovers for a party of twelve. That’s a lot of golf buddies.
Since the entertainment kitchen is expected to be bustling with guests, it required a kitchen that had all the amenities and space but could also be hidden when needed. “I told them this is a very important part of your house and you must get the best kitchen system available,” says Layug. The owners went for the Valcucine New Logica system, with panels that slide shut to conceal the kitchen appliances, shelves, accessories, and even the range hood. Moreover, the panels move silently so reaching for additional condiments, glassware, or napkins in the middle of a party can go unnoticed. From the different natural wood looking finishes available for the system, BUDJI+ROYAL selected elm, a light wood to complement the ceilings and the doors of the space.
“We like the balance of the technology and the familiarity of the wood. We always want something bespoke for our projects. Valcucine and Scavolini provide the design flexibility we need,” says Pineda.
The height of the New Logica system also suited the large continuous transom window above it which helps natural light enter the kitchen and dining area. This is probably one of the notable marks of a Budji+Royal home, it allows the best parts of the Philippine tropical environment in. Nature comes in through bursts and slivers, keeping residents and guests attuned to the light and air around their home, especially when these are pleasant.
“The kitchen’s focal point is the Valcucine system. But, if you stand in the kitchen, your panorama includes the dining room, living room, and the pool. We also borrow the areas around because your eyes go beyond the property line,” says Layug.
With three dining areas to choose from—the bar on a white quartz island, the indoor dining table, a poolside dining table on one side, and a small lanai on the other side—the types of parties the homeowners can host with family and friends are endless. Breakfasts are bathed in the morning sunshine while sundown gatherings can be enjoyed indoors and outdoors. A more casual dinner at the bar? Sure! Aperitivo by the pool. Why not? Moreover, if the homeowners decided they wanted a more private gathering, they can easily slide the doors shut and set their main dining table.
“BUDJI+ROYAL is very busy with residences, buildings, and even sports centers—so they are selective with the things they take on because they want to work closely with the clients. This is one of those projects,” adds Hontiveros.
When the project began, the homeowners asked for a weekend home. The project was completed within the two-year set schedule but in the midst of the pandemic. After having used the space for a few months, they have decided to shift their primary address to Laguna. They now call Sta. Elena their main home and Metro Manila their weekend address.
With work taking on more hybrid forms, living away from the city while remaining productive has become possible for a few families. The easy switch from work and play (or even blend of the two) is becoming more prevalent, and these lifestyles are enabled by the weekend-home-turned-primary-home. The seasonally active homes of Tagaytay, Laguna, and Batangas are taking on new lives as people migrate out of the metro. Frenetic commutes to the office are now optional to some so even a workday can feel like a weekend.
The clients have told their designers that a day away from their home is a lost opportunity to enjoy the good life they have built together. If life was this good and it can also be shared with your loved ones, who wouldn’t say the same? •