I’m not new to blogging (in fact, my old blog over at livejournal is still up, though not exactly running, and most of my meaningful posts over there are locked), but it’s taken me quite a while to put this one up. Blogging should come naturally to me, having written in my own private journals since I was 8 years old and regularly giving my Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram friends my two cents’ worth on many topics—trivial and otherwise. Somehow, I’d been ruminating on this blog for the longest time, but have only found the guts to put it up now. They say the things that matter to you are those that scare you most. And this blog—which will be a record of something that is very dear to my heart, something that I am still very new to and hope to learn from—scares me a lot.
Just as a backgrounder, I’ve been working in the publishing industry since 2008. I recently ended my full-time stint as the managing editor of Cosmopolitan Philippines magazine when I discovered—or rather, reawakened my passion for design, decorating, and home styling. I took up a few units at the Philippine School of Interior Design, but had to stop schooling when I gave birth to my daughter. I became a freelance writer and editor shortly after with the full intention of going back to school, just so I could still earn.
If you’re also a freelancer with a toddler, then you know full well what it means to turn down anything that takes you away from home, away from your baby. Even if I need additional income, I haven’t been accepting as much work as I used to, mainly because, well, baby. And desire as I might to go back to school and eventually earn my interior design license, the decision to do so hasn’t come as easily. Every time I revisit the conversation with my husband, my family, my closest friends, myself, I always end up dreading those three to five hours when I’d be in school, away from my daughter.
But let’s save the topic of my schooling (or lack of it) for another blog post. What is it exactly that makes me love interior design so much? I don’t know really. What makes you want to make sense out of your own space? Why do we pore through shelter magazines and decor books so much? What satisfaction does trawling home and decor boards on Pinterest bring? Why is HGTV a popular home channel to begin with? Why do I often feel like giving Tita Martha Stewart (yes, I feel close to her, and like we should be on Tita terms) and my other designer and design blog favorites a big thank you hug for letting ordinary folk like me learn a thing or two about style and design? What compels me to look at other houses and automatically take down notes from their own decorating and organizing styles to bring home to my own place? We all have our reasons.
When I was younger, I shared a big bedroom with two other sisters. We each had our bed and nightstand, and my mom would often make us clean and fix up our own spaces through a game. “Whoever fixes and decorates her bed and nightstand best, wins,” she’d declare. To my uninformed mind back then, “best” meant pinaka-mukhang hotel, because, you know, when you’re 6, all hotel rooms are the ultimate in beautiful design. So I decorated my little space in my most hotel-like best, down to my bed linen’s envelope corners (which I learned from my mom). I even had the table lamp, toy phone, note pad and pencil, and yes, a bible in the drawer down pat. I didn’t always win—I’d like to think my mom was trying to be a fair judge—but I do know that that served as early training for decorating and home styling.
Needless to say, my mother has been a very big influence. She is an artist, and before she retired, she was a photographer and graphic designer extraordinaire. We had an artist’s table at home full of cutter scars from a time when “cut and paste” literally meant cutting and pasting letters, negatives, and illustrations on to layouts. Unfortunately, Mama’s oil pastel-drawing, crafting, and painting skills weren’t passed on to me (I had terrible marks in grade school Work Education and Home Economics classes, and were only saved by my final projects, which, of course, my mother did herself.) (I would like to apologize to my Work Ed and Home Ec teachers, for falsely passing projects as my own work, and to my mother for making you laglag so publicly.)
My Filipino teacher husband just winced upon reading that last poorly phrased Taglish sentence.
But what I did inherit from her was a particularly spectacular joy over fixing up our home. Our house wasn’t Architectural Digest-beautiful, but to me, it was beautiful. Back then, people weren’t creating vignettes for magazine shoots or Instagram posts; people were just fixing up houses in ways that made its occupants feel right at home. Mama had and still has that way with styling rooms—making them look so visually pleasing, but so comfy and homey at the same time. One of my best friend calls it “The Mariles—(that’s my mom)—Touch.”
The homestead (as we like to call it now) wasn’t always picture-perfect, and there’d be seasons when it’d be bursting at the seams with our
clutter stuff. But an entire day with Mama (and her army of helpers, myself included) on a decorating blitzkrieg through the house will completely transform the homestead. On party days, we’d often hear guests entering the front door say “Wooowww” either audibly or under their breaths. Not in an Extreme Makeover: Home Edition kind of way, but in a “Wow, I wish I could live in this place” kind of way. And that made me a proud homestead occupant, a proud daughter. Yup, I live here. And yup, my Mama did this.
My skill in decorating isn’t as polished and as effortless as my mom’s, but my work in magazines has taught me how to compose and edit visually what I want my home to express. I don’t really know what my style is, and for the sake of naming it, I resort to keeping it vaguely unexplainable: transitional eclectic. While these words mean something technically specific in the design world, I’d like to stick to its dictionary definitions: “Transitional” as something in movement, ever changing; “eclectic” as not following any one system, but a conglomeration of many.
And that is what this blog is for. I am still finding my style, still honing my skill. I wish I had the same Mariles Touch as my mother, but we all come up with our own style, don’t we? I won’t promise to give you beautiful images of my home in every blog post.
I mean, have you seen my exceptionally awesome iPhone photography skills? And I won’t bombard you with OMG-I-want-to-do-that kind of DIY projects either. Trust me, my former Work Ed teachers, and my un-crafty, un-carpentry-proficient, un-DIY-er of a husband when I say my DIY skills are far from enviable.
But I do want to learn. That is what this blog is for. I wish to record my journey to creating my own “Camyl Touch.” I wish to make a home that my own daughter would come to appreciate in the same way my sisters and I loved the home our Mama created for us. I wish to know more about the wonderful world of style and design, and take down notes of what I’ve learned (and my favorites) here. I wish to finally overcome my fear of DIY and work on projects on my own.
I’d love for you to join me on this journey.