See How This Lattice House in Caloocan Combines Form and Fun

Playful visual elements hide a lively urban oasis within


There is a notion that for a design to become essential, it must serve to actualize and heighten specific purpose.  With this, the designers are tasked to ensure that human experiences through different objects or spaces are as pleasurable and emotionally rich as possible, which fulfill both individual desires and collective goals.

Such is the case for the home of a businessman and his family in an unassuming residential district near the city borders of Caloocan and Quezon City. Designed by husband and wife architects Buji and Nikki Libarnes, the once old bungalow is now a multilevel structure that takes on a modern resort theme listing natural ventilation and lighting as integral design elements.

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While some houses take pride in having well-appointed foyers, this home enjoys a double volume anteroom that functions as the receiving area despite the lot’s modest size. Located below the main stairway, this room is an effective primer for the rest of the house


For Buji, it was a conscious effort to integrate both in the overall design of the house.  “One of the major challenges of this commission was how to fit all the space requirements given the relatively small lot area to build on. We decided to maximize the space by going vertical,” Buji explains.

Upon entry, the orientation of the house and its interior spaces come into play. On the ground floor is a sitting area marked by a pair of accent chairs where guests can wait to be received.  Just behind, a wall of jalousie windows look out to another room that opens up by way of glass sliding doors.

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Wood is used as the main element of this home, as seen in the light fixtures, stair treads, and slats that wrap around the windows to provide privacy and natural ventilation to the spaces inside


“Right now, the space functions as a guest room that makes visitors feel like they’re having a vacation,” the owner explains. However, he added that it also forms part of their future plans for the house. “When my wife and I are too old to use the stairs, we can make that our room instead,” the owner says.

The two areas are connected by an atrium designed by Rading Decepida, who also added a cascading water feature and a koi pond. Meanwhile, the green wall extends to the upper levels of the structure.

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In between the foyer and guest bedroom is a small garden with a koi pond by Rading Decepida. The green wall behind is visible from all four levels of the house


The stairs leading to the main living area on the second level is made from wood and glass. This is to keep with the design aesthetic and transparency of spaces. There are intricate light fixtures hang from above, which draw attention to a vibrant painting and glass walls that look out to the garden below.

“The general color scheme of the house is white washed walls, neutral gray tiles, and natural wood,” explains Nikki. Simple yet tastefully furnished, the living space is a study in modern tranquility.

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Sleek, low-slung furniture pieces from BoConcept are carefully balanced with plush fabrics and earthy finishes in the main living area


While a leather sofa and a smoked glass center table take the middle of the room, another fabric sofa and a pair of armchairs are added to provide more seating options. There is also a patterned area rug that centers the entire composition that breaks the monotony of neutrals.

Free of unnecessary ornamentations, the details in the space, from the seating to the accessories, are clean, simple, and fuss-free.  “I wanted the spaces to have a relaxing feel to make everyone inside comfortable. ‘Yung para kang nagbabakasyon pero hindi ka umalis ng bahay,” explains the owner.

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Husband and wife architects Buji and Nikki Libarnes counter the usual homogeneity of modern spaces by infusing design inspirations drawn from the personalities of the homeowners


The basic consideration for the interiors was that at any point, you could appreciate the natural light, the wind, the sky—yet still feel private,” shares Nikki. The homeowners also requested to play around with artificial lighting.  To do this, the designers used a combination of vintage Japanese paper lamps, mismatched pendant lights, and oversized wooden droplights to make the spaces special and interesting. Meanwhile, wood slats enhance the home’s privacy by blocking street views, likewise functioning as a sustainable feature to filter out unwanted heat.

“Everywhere inside the house, the light filters through lattice screens and falls in different spaces depending on the time of day,” says Nikki.  This creates a dynamic ambiance with the playful shadows on the white walls and wood floors, she added.

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Opposite the kitchen is the dining area with its refreshing views of the pocket garden and green wall. “It really makes a lot of difference to have beautiful views. It makes us feel like we’re out of town!” says the owner


There is a bright hallway that leads to the kitchen and dining areas on the same level. The space here is the biggest. Glass doors and picture windows spanning one wall make it appear larger than it is. The rectangular orientation features the dining area on one end, and the kitchen on the other.

A 10-seater table surrounded by teakwood chairs dominates the space. “We had to change the original table to something bigger. Now, we have more room to move about when we eat!” shares the owner.

Countertops and cabinetry behind the dining table, which the family uses as a buffet service area, is echoed on the other side in the kitchen. Here, a large island that is both a prep area and breakfast nook rules the space.

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A slatted wall hides the steps that lead to the loft in this son’s bedroom. Both sides of his space are glass walls and windows that let in natural light


Further up the third and fourth levels of the house, feng shui principles are in mind as you see the designs. “All the beds in the house are positioned to face the East. No doors are exactly facing each other to promote a healthier flow of chi,” explains the youngest daughter.  To create a calming feel, the rooms still echo the overall design of the home, which use wood and low key earth tones.

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The master bedroom is relaxed and simple. A desk spanning the length of the king-sized bed provides a more conductive work area for the husband


The master bedroom takes up half of the entire floor, with a work area and wall of storage situated behind the bed. To the right is a walk in closet and bath that continue the clean and orderly look of the space.

Just across are the rooms of the two daughters and their respective walk in closets. On the uppermost floor are the two sons’ rooms, with their respective work and study areas. While all done in the same neutral palette, the rooms are infused with the character of their respective occupant, using various interests as takeoff points for the decorative elements.

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The youngest daughter’s room continues the house’s earthy colors. Mismatched drop lights add character to the space


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Another son’s bedroom is furnished simply with wood furniture and natural tones. This space enjoys high ceilings and a calming vibe courtesy of plain walls


“The homeowners were very much involved in the design and construction process, but had complete trust in our design approach. They really listened to our suggestions and recommendations,” notes Buji. “There is a sense of fulfillment that comes from knowing that they now have a home they cherish and love,” he finishes.

Nowhere is the truest essence of design more apparent than in putting together the various spaces that make up a home. It has to ensure the soundness and functionality of the structure for the privacy and safety of its owners, and at the same time, it has to fulfill each individual’s needs and aspirations, and appeal to them. It is this interaction of ideas that makes this home more than the sum of its parts.

This story first appeared on MyHome Inspiring Interiors Vol. 3, edits have been made for