We’ve been fans of Stephanie Zubiri-Crespi’s boho-luxe aesthetic for quite some time. From her penchant for mixing prints and patterns to her effortless entertaining style. The multi-talented chef, writer and host welcomed us into the home she shares with her husband Jonathan and their two boys Sebastian and Maximilian. Take a tour of their gorgeous art-filled abode and get a tip or two on creating a perfectly lived in yet sophisticated space.
Describe your style.
Although it’s probably one of the most overused words in decorating I can’t think of any other word more perfect to describe my style than – eclectic! I love contrasts and I find that there’s nothing more beautiful than something ornate against something sleek and contemporary. I’ll mix an old persian carpet with a glass and chrome table, or an antique chinese cabinet with a modern painting. I want things to tell a story and that each piece that has a story manages to stand out rather than drown in a blah world of same-ness. I’m drawn to mid-century pieces, global accessories, antique chinoiserie, anything ikat or paisley and have a penchant for contemporary abstract art. I also love blue and in general primary colors. Lately I have also been embracing wholly tropical living and anything with palms or leaves, bamboo… I just love it.
The painting was the first piece of art that Stephanie ever bought with her own money. She immediately fell in love with the colors, vibe and image of people dancing upon spotting it at the Edgar-Quinet Arts and Crafts Market.
The stunning living room has been a constant work in progress. “It took a long time to get these pillows right, literally five years!” Stephanie says with a laugh. The overall effect is sophisticated, worldly, chic yet totally relaxed just like the homeowners. The leather club chairs are from the 1930s and were picked up by the couple from a flea market in Paris.
The wall is peppered with art from various artist markets as well as pieces from her mom’s collection. Pillows are from Pottery Barn, Raffles, L’Indochine, Tadeco Home and Bhutan.
No plastic tables and chairs here, the kids dining area is a chic as the rest of the house. The customized set is from Kahoy World in Quezon City.
Please share 5 decorating tips that you swear by:
1. Follow your impulses – When I pick up something it’s usually because I absolutely love it. I don’t think oh, I need this for here or this would fit there. I feel like sometimes that makes for contrived spaces. I’ll buy something because I love it and eventually it will find it’s place. Then in the end your home is filled with things you absolutely love.
2. Edit – when you’re always following your heart sometimes you have to accept that certain things just don’t belong, so it’s ok to put them away and save them for another time. A good example is my sofa – I have this Inigo Elizalde pillow that I love but eventually I transitioned into warm and richer colors and it no longer has a place. However by changing colors I unearthed another old pillow cover that I purchased ages ago in Singapore that finally fit perfectly. This is something I often do, I store and rotate and lots of things eventually find their perfect spot!
3. Be patient – It’s in our nature to want to finish something right away and we end up with things that are less than great or not quite want you want just to fill in the gaps. It literally took five years for me to get the right composition for my throw pillows! I’d rather have a blank wall than stare at artwork I’m not all that fond of (like hotel artwork which is usually just neutral and there to fill up space!)
4. Decorate to suit your lifestyle and personality- I have a friend that has a gorgeous home where nothing is out of place and as much as I would love to have a home like that, I’m a little too messy for it. It would look like a wreck in just under a week! My space always needs to feel a little lived in and that it’s ok if there’s a bit of disorder here and there. You can also apply this principle to each room – some rooms can be more formal while others just more relaxed to play with the kids and hang out.
5. Use fresh eyes to work with what you have- When I first started out, I had an entire house to fill up so it was natural that I took a lot of odds and ends form my parent’s bodega and made it work for me. A great example is this stone inlaid chinese dowry chest which I thought was so beautiful but I really didn’t know what to do with it. I had a glass top made for it then added some plastic padded stickers and it’s now a great side table. Another example is this wooden console by the hallway. It was bought in one of these furniture markets and had some very frou-frou carvings on one side that looked nice in the original setting. When we moved it just looked too much where we it was so I simply turned it around. The back side wasn’t carved and it gave the piece a new lease on life with a more contemporary feel. Just by turning it around!
The bar is one of the couple’s favorite pieces of furniture. “It miraculously never goes empty inspite of all the entertaining we do.”
A painting by Arturo Luz looks over the bar scene.
The whimsical Fornasetti candle, picked up while on holiday in Hamburg depicts drunken monkeys with books and champagne. “I love that they look like they’re up to no good.” says Stephanie.
A piece of the Berlin Wall.
The couple have seen their plants flourish ever since they placed the giant Buddha head at the centre of their garden. The beautiful piece from Myanmar was purchased from a close friend.
The Crespi’s relaxing outdoor living area is where a lot of weekend entertaining takes place. The handpainted Indonesian masks were purchased, funnily enough at the old Caticlan airport in Boracay and like most of Stephanie’s pieces have an interesting tale behind it.
Watercolor painting by Stepanie’s mom, Vicky Zubiri.
Do you collect anything?
I suppose you can say I collect tableware. I’m obsessed with plates, flatware and glassware. Table linens and the like. I’m extremely talented at wrapping them up and taking them all home in my suitcase. I once bought a ton of bowls in Ben Tanh market and managed to take them all home unbroken in my suitcase wrapped in clothes. Same with some vintage Baccarat champagne coupes. I actually had a night mare where I broke one and woke up in a sweat! My husband thinks I’m crazy and that we have too many plates. He keeps joking that we will throw a russian party one day so we can smash them while dancing! Heaven forbid! I’d have a heart attack!
The formal dining area is one of the most often used rooms in their home. The glass dining table is from Restoration.
A vintage Korean cabinet houses serving dishes and showcases various “momentous bottles from momentous occasions.” Whether it be her sons’ baptisms or intimate family traditions. “Jonathan and I have a tradition, every Valentine’s day, we would splurge on a rockin’ bottle of wine, and we just stay in and drink it.”
The newly painted blue wall serves a s a perfect backdrop to the bold painting by Risa Recio. Burmese Lacquer pieces were gifted to Stephanie by an old mentor.
What are your favorite shopping haunts in Manila?
I love going to Ito Kish for inspiration, Philux for classic pieces, LRI has loads to offer, L’Indochine of course! and how can you resist Pottery Barn’s throw pillows and Crate and Barrel’s tableware??? But my absolute favorite is going to Manila Fame or the specialty bazaars like the Maarte fair or the American Women’s Bazaar where you have all sorts of great stuff that are locally made or imported from exotic places. Online sellers through IG also have great things now!
The office which doubles as the guest bedroom is done up in calming colors as opposed to the rest of the house. The couple spent on a beautiful and comfortable sofa bed from Pottery Barn and filled up the rest of the room with pieces that they already owned. The lamp is from Triboa Bay Living and the shelves are from F1srt by Ito Kish.
A close-up of the shelves from F1rst by Ito Kish filled with books, gifts and other keepsakes picked up from various trips.
The map is from Paris and is an original dating back to 1832. “I like it because the Philippines is in the middle.” says Stephanie.
Where do you get decorating inspiration?
Definitely from my travels. Spaces I encounter that are not necessarily just homes but could be coffee shops, libraries, museums… I like that old world traveler aesthetic… If I could I’d have a room full of curios like beetles and bugs, corals and shells! Oh and in this digital age – interest is awesome! I am also currently obsessed with India Hicks and her home in the Bahamas.
The carved statue which symbolizes eternal happiness was givem to Stephanie by one of her best friends Rocio Olbes on her 30th birthday.
Tips on decorating kid’s rooms:
Kid’s rooms are my absolute favorite to decorate! They are just too much fun! Start by choosing a theme and work around it but try not to go too overboard. I like rooms with character and that don’t look like they came out of a catalogue so even in a kid’s room you should have these unique pieces. I also like to keep them a bit sophisticated, a space where even I would like to stay in. Sometimes people tend to overdo the “kiddie” aspect. I believe when a room is truly beautiful with nice things the children will learn to appreciate it and respect their environment.
Vintage Airplane Mobile by Restoration Hardware.
Stephanie wanted Maximillian’s room to have the same sense of adventure and went with Jungle Safari as the theme. She chose a more neutral and earthy palette but accented it with pops of nave blue.
Interior photos by: Caren Carlos-Tordesillas