Chic Peek: Lucien Lao-Villaruz

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No one does effortless cool quite like Lucien. A cane stool, woven poof and C&C’s award winning Alon basket add warmth to an otherwise minimalist space.

There’s nothing we love more than stepping inside a home that perfectly describes the owner’s personality and Lucien Villaruz’s spacious and light filled abode is no exception. Simple, unassuming, yet stunning in real life, her space marries loft-like, minimalist living with playful pops of color and unexpected details. Read on as we talk about designing for yourself, breaking the rules and letting your children put their own stamp into the home.

The entry way sets the tone for the rest of the house. A cool statement making piece by revered artist Lao Lian Ben (who also happens to be Lucien’s dad) steals the scene while clean, lines and wooden accents make great side kicks, adding warmth and color to an otherwise stark space.

Fun details such as overgrown plants and dinosaur fossils greet guest upon entering, instantly throwing away any notions of zen living. A family with growing kids live here and they want you to know it.

Describe your style.

Clean, minimalist and easy. We try to keep things as simple as possible. My top priority is a space where my boys can run, play and be kids without worrying about things being too precious or off limits.

Bikes, toys and books are casually stewn all over the home. The black and white photograph is by Lucien’s brother Muchi Lao.

Please share 5 decorating tips you swear by.

The living room consists of a couch inherited from Lucien’s older brother, a classic Barcelona chair and a huge wooden pallet coffee table that’s just begging for you to put your feet up in.

1.Buy what you love. My husband Virgil and I don’t pretend to be experts at decorating, but we strongly believe in bringing in items that we have a connection to. The saying “You’ll know it when you see it.” pretty much sums up our philosophy. We don’t go around “hunting” for pieces similar to what we’ve seen in magazines or blogs, when we happen to stumble upon let’s say a chair, a light fixture or even a pillow that we feel reflects our aesthetic then we bring it home.

Rye and Liam are dinosaur fanatics and their interests are seen all throughout the house be it through cute planters like this or the choice of books on the coffee table.

2. Let your children put their own personal spin in your home. After all, its their home too. When Rye our eldest was around 3 years old, we took him around a home decor store and asked him to pick out 3 of his favorite throw pillows for the couch. To say his picks were nowhere near my top choices would be an understatement. But we gave him free range and brought them home. I’m glad we did! The bright pops of color add  fun and playful elements to our home.

The open space lets Lucien keep an eye out on her boys while cooking and invites guests to interact and be involved while she preps for dinner. An industrial table and stools from All Home serve as a great coffee nook for quiet mornings.

3. Create a space based on how you use it. One of the best things about building your own home is being able to plan the space based on how you see it being used in years to come. Every corner of our house serves a purpose and is being used everyday. Our open kitchen is not for show, we really cook all of our meals there, wash dishes etc. I like that I can keep an eye out on my kids while I prepare lunch or dinner.

Coffee table books featuring Lao Lien Ben sit atop Lucien and Virgil’s massive coffee table. A DIY project the couple worked on using wooden pallets they scored on the road.

4. Don’t rush it. A home just like a person needs time to grow and evolve. Don’t succumb to the pressure of filling up your space just because its ready. Know that your tastes, needs and priorities will change over time and that’s ok. Its better to be surrounded by a few forever pieces that slowly come together than a “complete” space filled with temporary items

A custom made Narra table comfortably sits 10. It serves as the perfect spot for a family gathering, building legos or doing homework.

5. Go for the classics. Investing in classic pieces have never let me down. They go with pretty much any type of aesthetic and withstand the test of time. Our Narra dining table is the perfect example. We couldn’t find a piece big enough for our space so we had one made. Yes, it was quite an investment but I can see it being used for years to come and being passed on from one generation to the next.

The Villaruz home has pockets of green in every corner instantly adding color and vibrancy to the space. Unconventional planters such as wooden and steel buckets add texture and visual interest to the groupings.

A closer look at the huge Lao Lian Ben painting in the Villarruz dining area.

Let’s talk art, how did you choose the pieces in your home?

Since both of my parents are artists, I am heavily influenced by them when it comes to art. Most of the artworks in my house are by them. I am drawn to both abstract and still life.

Abstract paintings bring modern and zen-like vibes to the home. I like how they are quiet but strong. Still life paintings on the other hand add warmth and familiarity. A mix of both add interest and personality to any home.

Lastly, what are our favorite shopping haunts in Manila?

For home decor, our usual go-tos are Dimensione, Mandaue Foam for inexpensive yet well designed pieces  and before L’Indochine! We also like to go check out Japan surplus from time to time. More often than not, we’ve come out with really interesting pieces from there!


Photographed by: Charlene Panutat-Carlos