Meeting a perfectionist’s expectations takes a clear vision and an almost manic fixation on quality workmanship. Judging from the expressions of absolute contentment by the homeowners of a newly-renovated Quezon City home, the designers of Heim Interiors were just as persnickety as their finicky clients needed them to be. The grueling renovation work drove the family away from home for two years, but for them, it was worth it. “We were willing to rent a place and be away from home that long so every detail would be perfect, and we wouldn’t have to fix a thing once we moved in,” the wife said.
The house was built in 2004, and they bought it two years later. “It looked okay when we got it. But as time went on, we noticed so many things wrong with the house and wanted to fix every single thing,” she added. The issue was not just the house no longer matched their aesthetic. The workmanship just wasn’t up to par—sliding doors that stuck and screeched, tiles that came off of the floors, painted surfaces that blistered or attracted an inordinate amount of grime, and terminations and corners that just didn’t square. Issues like ambient noise level, wasted space, cramped corners, and poorly lit areas niggled at the couple, their discontent growing as the years passed. Renovation work started in 2013, and they moved back in September 2015.
“It’s been more than a year since, but everything still looks brand new,” the husband said. Indeed, the renovation has removed all traces of datedness. The result is a timeless minimalist look with a consistent maaliwalas or bright feel throughout the house—just the way the homeowners want. “The clients’ requirement was straight to the point: they wanted a bright, light, minimal, and clutter-free home,” said Rossy Yabut, design principal of Heima. “They knew what they wanted from the beginning, and for a designer, that’s a dream.” Perhaps not so pleasant for the architect who came in before Yabut and spent months taking many detailed instructions and revisions from the couple, who were adamant about how each space was to work. Still, husband and wife weren’t satisfied and were close to despairing until Yabut was enlisted.
According to Yabut, she listened to the clients’ exhaustive descriptions, which prompted visions of the crisp lines and colors of Miami homes, with lots of natural light streaming in. Yabut and her Heim Interiors design team tore down walls to open up the first-floor area. The kitchen and the dining area traded spaces so the outside view could be enjoyed from the kitchen, where the family adores hanging out. “If there’s one room we love, it’s the kitchen,” they said. “We eat all our meals here; we spend a lot of our time here. We just love the refreshing view of the pool.” The living area with sliding glass doors on two sides could easily have become a hot and glaring spot in the house, but deep, deep eaves keep it cool and serene. The lanai outside acts like a buffer, keeping the noise and splashing of children in the pool at a distance.
Yabut’s calm and self-assured demeanor whenever meeting with them and her quiet and uncompromising stance with the contractor and workers immediately inspired confidence in the clients. The sticking point came when it was time to paint the house. The homeowners wanted an all-white interior, but Yabut, a lover of color, was recommending applying Drizzle Blue—like a very cool and light powder blue mixed with a dab of dove gray—on several walls. They were unenthusiastic, but Yabut had been proven right every time thus far. “We couldn’t imagine what the blue would look like with the white, but we trusted her and ended up loving it,” they said.
Wood elements and touches of gray further soften the starkness. All unnecessary décor were eschewed for choice pieces of furniture and artwork. Husband and wife are no fans of the lived-in look. Hidden cabinets and hidden storage abound all over the house to keep it looking immaculate. Incredibly, the kids have embraced their parents’ passion for tidiness. When we got there, the only signs children lived in the house were two small pairs of slippers parked by the staircase. The upstairs spaces are clean; they walk around barefoot or in socks, Japanese style. Everyone’s everyday shoes are stored in a revolving glass cabinet in a hidden passageway to the garage.
Before renovation, the house was always dark even at daytime the children had difficulty studying. So another thing the homeowners appreciate about the renovated home is the excellent lighting, a mix of both natural and indoor, which complete the wide-open feel of the house, as opposed to its oppressively cramped pre-renovation look. “If we were to give one piece of advice to someone thinking of doing home renovation, we would tell them lighting is imperative,” the homeowners said. They also advise would-be renovators to be patient, as good quality and workmanship can never be rushed and should never be compromised: “We don’t like the idea of moving in and then discovering yet another thing that needs to be worked on,” they said. “We didn’t want to have any regrets.” The highest compliment they could pay the interior designer? “You know how renderings always look so perfect? Well, what they showed us in the perspectives was exactly how the house ended up looking like!”