home inspo, my works

Styling my friend’s home office and makeup studio

Apart from just being a work-from-home mom, I also style interiors on the side. I still handle a couple of pages in the magazine title I used to work with (that’s Cosmopolitan Philippines), particularly the section called “At Your Place,” where we shoot and feature real Cosmo girls’ living spaces and get decorating tips from them.

For the April 2015 issue, I was thrilled to feature the brand new makeup studio of my best friend, Pamela Robes. Her makeup studio is actually in her bedroom, which we used to hang out in a lot. I’ve always loved her room: It’s spacious and roomy, yet still has that cozy, laid-back quality we all want in our bedrooms. The great thing about Pam’s bathroom is that it was also “hidden”: You had to find its door from among the closet doors. I secretly pretended I was one of the Pevensie children entering the magical wardrobe into Aslan’s kingdom….

Some years back, Pam redecorated her all-white bedroom, largely inspired by the red bedroom walls of Amelie Poulain. We even featured that bedroom (which I styled as well) in the November 2012 issue of Cosmopolitan. It featured bold, red walls, and lots of exotic and eclectic elements. It was fun, and really did feel like Amelie’s indie-eclectic Parisian boudoir.

Pam's red boudoir, as featured in Cosmo's November 2012 issue
Pam’s formerly red boudoir, as featured in Cosmo’s November 2012 issue

But when things change in one’s life, so do one’s tastes and preferences. Pam went to the Big Apple to study makeup and work for over a year, and while there, she looked for her own apartment to stay in, which meant a lot of trawling through Craigslist and Airbnb. Clean, Scandinavian interiors are big now, as then, in the world of apartment- and rental-living—maybe because the look is so easy to create and maintain. Many of the NYC apartments she saw featured this look. So as soon as she got back from her New York stint, Pam immediately had her red walls repainted back to white.

She also removed most of the furniture and built-in shelves, with the exception of her work desk. She then mostly borrowed furniture from her sister, her parents, and even from her lola‘s house. “I already have a creative job,” she told me during our interview for Cosmo, “So I need a space that’s like a blank canvas to help me clear my mind and focus creativity more on my work.”

And here is what her studio looks like now:

From bold-red eclectic bedroom to light and airy makeup studio
From bold-red eclectic bedroom to light and airy makeup studio

This is where Pam brainstorms, conceptualizes, and tests looks and palettes, as well as where she meets with current and potential clients.

Her desk, just like her room, is sparsely decorated, so I placed Pam’s lamp, Urban Abode reed diffuser, Diptyque candle, mug succulent, and calling cards in this round gold tray from H&M Home (something that I had wanted for myself). (I still do.) This way, they don’t feel so lost in such a long work table, and won’t move around so much.

Notice the clear glass jar (also from H&M Home) filled with the solitary leaf? That was Pam’s idea. We lined up three of them down one side of the table as a decorative addition, just so the table doesn’t feel too empty.

A closer look at the golden tray

Isn’t that tray pretty? When I went back to H&M a couple days ago, I saw that they also had trays in black and copper—trendy metals this year.

Guests and companions' waiting area
Guests and companions’ waiting area

Most of these items are things already found in Pam’s own home. The only new ones I added here are the cable-knit and linen pillows, the rolled-up throw, and that small gold-lipped vase on the floor (all from H&M Home as well. I obviously hoarded their store. I thought the aesthetic of H&M home collection perfectly matched Pam’s preferred look for her studio. And NO, this is not a sponsored post. As a stylist, I’m supposed to pull out from various stores and brands, but lack of time and laziness oops did I really say that in public forced me to stick with just one). She had the cushion on top of the bench custom-made, and covered it with a gray cotton cloth. I love how her palette choice—a mix of warm and cool neutrals like gray, cream, khaki, wood, and white, and punctuated with greens—is calming and timeless, yet still very much on this year’s color trends list.

Check out her window treatment!
Check out her window treatment!

Just before shooting her studio, Pam shared with me the (secret) Pinterest board she used to collect inspirations for her studio’s look. When I asked her if she’d planned on putting curtains or blinds on the windows (before the shoot, her windows were bare), she said she didn’t know. Then I saw this image she had pinned of wreaths of leaves hanging in front of a window.

Image courtesy of thecraftyblogstalker
Image courtesy of thecraftyblogstalker

If you go to the link where this image is from, it shows you that this was made with an embroidery hoop. I didn’t have time to get embroidery hoops, but I remembered that I’d bought a bunch of faux eucalyptus stems from Dapitan Arcade over the holidays last year. Its stems were made of bendable wire, so I got three of them, formed them into wreaths, shaped the ends into hooks, and hooked them up snugly. Voila! Five-minute leaf wreaths!

Photo courtesy of Jun Pinzon for Cosmopolitan Philippines
Photo courtesy of Jun Pinzon for Cosmopolitan Philippines

I hung them up on the window with nylon string, so it looks invisible from afar. I must say, Pam’s mom liked them so much, she kept taking photos of them on her iPad. So cute.

What's a makeup studio without a vanity area?
What’s a makeup studio without a vanity area?

Pam invested in the high chair and makeup case/vanity dresser, both of which she found on Amazon. She leaves these here in the studio, and totes another one from Zuca with her everywhere—well, everywhere she has jobs, that is. I work with her regularly and have carried the Zuca case myself. It’s not so heavy, but still sturdy enough that you can even use it as a seat when closed up. Pretty handy for a makeup artist!

An extension of Pam’s vanity area

As I’d said earlier, Pam makes use of plenty of hand-me-down furniture. See, there’s nothing wrong with reusing old stuff! It’s all just a matter of curating well. See if the items fit in with the look you’re going for, but try to balance it out with a variety of materials. Don’t go for the matchy-matchy, we-bought-the-whole-living-room-showcase look. 

Now to my favorite part of the studio…

Open the closet and what do you see?
Open the closet and what do you see?

Pam’s closets are ordinary-looking, white closet doors with these slender, brushed steel handles. They line one side of Pam’s room. One of the doors, however, is not a closet, but {drumroll, please}…. The Loo! *tsaran!* 

Behold, Aslan's kingdom! *cough cough*
Behold, Aslan’s kingdom! *cough cough*

She thought she needed a sign that would direct her guests to the bathroom, but didn’t know if it would work, nor how she would hang it up. Sometimes, we get these ideas we’re not so sure of in the beginning, and we need someone to sound it off to. Exactly what Pam did with most of her ideas with me. And as often with most of her ideas, I usually found them amazingly good!

I know, right?

This is how I approach my own decorating sometimes as well—I need to get someone else’s validation (usually my husband) before I proceed (usually I get rejected. Ha. ha.).  It’s nice to get someone else’s perspective or opinion; when you’re stumped with something, ask for help.

“The loo” was mainly my idea, because when I started writing on the wooden tag (something Pam had bought from the US), I realized that “bathroom” didn’t look too nice a word to put on such a nice tag, and “C.R.” just wouldn’t cut it. So “the loo” it was.

Inside the bathroom, Pam had always wanted to put “to pee or not to pee”—one of her awesomely unique ideas, and obviously a play on that famous line from tragic Hamlet‘s soliloquy. While the question now is not so tragic, it’s a great design element in such a nondescript space as the bathroom. And a bathroom with plain white tiles at that. Pam had thought of word wire art for the f(p)unny quote, but didn’t know how to make it.

I didn’t either, though maybe you’ve noticed by now (then again, maybe not) that I am often gung-ho about decorating, and usually plunge into a project without even thinking. So to her house we went, armed with wire, a wire cutter, and needle-nosed pliers, and worked on that damn thing. It turns out that the wire I’d bought was too thick, so, long story short, that wire art was a f@!$^*%! painful thing to make. It took three people (me, Pam, hubby) to make it, with the help of lots of swearing. And packaging tape. Don’t even ask me for a tutorial. I won’t be able to give you a clear set of instructions.

Still, it turned out okay, don't you think???
Still, it turned out okay, don’t you think???

P1020918

I asked Pam to put up a couple prints from her collection of B&W photos on the blank wall above the water closet, just to keep the visual story (if you will) going. Pam loves vintage photos that seem to tell a story: candid shots of lovers in a tight embrace, a woman with eyes bugged out mid-guffaw, a little girl clinging to her mother’s legs at the beach. They’re poignant, thoughtful, and say much about the photo’s subjects as much as the beholder, and even the one who put them up (in this case, Pam).  Because I strongly believe that that’s how you should treat your space: a place where you can tell the story of yourself. And yes, that may also include the toilet.

Since this used to be Pam’s old bedroom, naturally she had to move her sleeping quarters somewhere else. She relocated to the empty room adjacent to hers, and I couldn’t not fix that up too, of course…well, at least for the shoot.

P1020899
Rug, throw pillows, and birds-on-a-perch candleholder all (borrowed) from—you guessed it—H&M Home

P1020901

That plant on the bedside table was originally in one of her house’s common areas. I’ve been on Pinterest long enough to know that it’s called the mother-in-law’s tongue (hmm, my MIL wouldn’t like that one bit), one of the hardiest plants anyone with a black thumb could care for indoors (and great for filtering the air from impurities, so they say). I’ve also been on this part of the planet long enough to know that it’s a plant often found in many of the city’s most untended front yards, often forgotten, often covered in soot. Even my gardener laughed when I told him I wanted one in my house. “Yan?” he scoffed. “Tinatapon ko lang yan, eh!” He obviously. hasn’t. been. on. Pinterest! Hmph!

Well, there you have it. That was a pretty long post, whew! Hope you guys liked this studio tour. Thanks to my best friend, Pam, for trusting me enough with styling it. I’ve always bowed down to her impeccably awesome taste in everything in life, so it was an honor for me to help her out with this. (Hey, she’s a pretty good makeup artist, too! Shameless best-friend plug: Go check out her portfolio on www.pamrobes.com, and if you like her work and want to book her, shoot her an email at pam.robes@gmail.com.)

Will be posting more of the spaces I’ve styled on this blog soon, so do watch for it!

All images in this entry are by me, unless otherwise stated in the caption. The Mean Girls GIF image is from Tumblr.

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