By Kathrina Paz Elefante
Images by Jericho San Miguel
The look of a home is an expression of a family’s personality—and that is true for Nikki Garcia and her family of five. “The mishmash of accessories, colors, and themes represent my personality and moods. It also represents my family and how we are all very different,” describes the stay-at-home mom whose ‘alter ego’ (Instagram: @nikkimbento) creates bento-style snack boxes for her kids.
She and her family recently moved from their 200-square meter home to their current two-storey home near Alabang, which has more than 800 square meters of living space.
Each room has an interesting mix of old and new, a look Garcia achieved with the help of interior designer Regina Santos.
“We’re both quirky and flamboyant. She understands my aesthetic and how I like pops of color. She taught me how to appreciate the beauty of antiques, which I didn’t in the beginning,” Garcia says. “She helped me see that I’m lucky to have these pieces that tell a story.”
The main hallway (or what Garcia calls the ‘blue room’) already has a few stories on its own: Decades-old rugs lead the eye to the round table at the center, which is the dining table Garcia and her family used back when she was still in school, decorated with Chinese blue jars in different sizes. These are just a few of the heirloom pieces that she inherited from her grandmother and mother.
‘My mom always appreciated Philippine handicrafts and artworks by Filipino painters. She never found the necessity to purchase items abroad and didn’t believe that imported was better. That’s something I got from her and I think it shows in my house.’
At the end of the hallway is a peacock chair painted in bright red (a locally made piece that Garcia purchased online) complemented with a planter basket also made by a local brand. On the wall are four antique carved wood pieces she had painted to match the color of the jars.
To the left side of the hallway is the ‘green room’, which features more of Garcia’s flair of mixing affordable finds, local artisanal pieces and antiques. It’s also an expression of her growing appreciation for local art, which is something she also inherited from her mom, Gina Syjuco.
“My mom always appreciated Philippine handicrafts and artworks by Filipino painters. She never found the necessity to purchase items abroad and didn’t believe that imported was better. That’s something I got from her and I think it shows in my house.”
When Garcia’s mom converted to minimalism a few years ago, she emptied out a warehouse full of items that included paintings and black and white sketches by artists such as BenCab and Malang. These can now be found in different areas of the house, with most of them in the ‘black and brown room’ or dining room.
The room features a live edge dining table from a local home store accompanied by a century-old open cabinet, which Garcia updated by placing glass at the back and juxtaposing modern copper accessories with heirloom earthen jars. The black and brown theme continues in the kitchen, which has a subtle African vibe with leather chairs and oversized baskets from Dapitan Arcade.
Having such priceless antiques in every corner can be quite intimidating to a house guest but Garcia’s eclectic style has created an atmosphere of approachability.
“I wanted my house to feel lived in where people can feel relaxed. I used to hate entertaining because I didn’t want to think about the mess. Since moving here, I’ve felt so proud of what we’ve created that I’m confident enough to share that with other people.”
Recently, she hosted a private party for a local jewelry brand. The brand’s vintage-inspired pieces matched the heirloom furniture and accent pieces perfectly—all it took were a few flower arrangements and display necessities to create beautiful tablescapes.
Aside from the thoughtfully designed space, the community down south is what makes Garcia’s house a home.
“We love that fact that we are away from the concrete jungle’s intensity. For my husband Frank, who works in the heart of the city, this is really home. Down here, people have a more relaxed energy and I’m happier raising my family.”