The former mayor navigated around tight timelines and logistic restrictions to have her apartment renovated. Now, it is a wonderful space that merges all that is essential for her.
Since she was little, Pie Alvarez has had an admiration for interior design. This appreciation for what makes a home beautiful is one factor that fueled a personal pandemic project of the former San Vicente, Palawan mayor—the renovation of her apartment.
“It took about 45 days to start and finish all construction, interiors, and, of course, the finishing touches to finally make it a home,” Alvarez shares. She worked with Pauline and John Sac, her good friends who run the design firm 50/53A & Co. “What matters most to me is that they get me, my style, my vibe and they really listen to my needs, and ideas,” she explains.
There were many challenging factors in the renovation, not the least of which are the restrictions brought about by the lockdown.
Fortunately, when the quarantine measures eased last July, construction resumed, giving them enough time to finish. The result of all their hard work is an elegant space that offers breathtaking views of the city.
They may have accomplished everything in four weeks, but another tough challenge remained—adjusting to everyday life in the middle of a pandemic.
As public places like fitness centers, restaurants, and recreational facilities remain unsafe, Alvarez created corners for their routines to be done at home. “I had to make a gym in one area, a study and office for my [remote work] needs, and also, I had to adjust and pivot for the needs of my household as well,” she says.
A quick scan of her home gym provides a window into her workout favorites; yoga mats, foam rollers and stability balls are on hand alongside heavier equipment like indoor bikes, kettlebells, and a treadmill. “We must stay healthy, workout regularly, spend adequate downtime with family and of course, time for self-care as well,” she says.
Bold and beautiful
Maximalism is how Alvarez describes her design aesthetic. She admits to loving color and texture, tending to layer and put things together that some may find too much. “But that is the beauty of design—it truly depends on your preference, your style, and, of course, your taste,” she explains.
While she prioritizes function over aesthetic when it comes to furniture, Alvarez still has a fondness for the classics, and she is drawn to collecting mid-century pieces, Italian furniture, and antiques.
Some of these are heirloom pieces, which Alvarez has incorporated into the renovation. “In my daughter Nara’s room, I used my dad’s 1970’s brass lamp and then just made it more current by adding a scalloped lampshade with a beige linen cover,” she illustrates. “I added matching sconces to make it even more elegant, young, and vibrant.”
Alvarez’s travels are another source of interesting finds. No matter the country she visits, she brings parts of the rich culture and tradition to her home. This way, the pieces not only draw out beautiful memories, but also reflect her great appreciation of the history of other nations.
With work and home life remaining integrated as of the moment, Alvarez is enjoying all the time she gets to be with her newborn. “[I] also have the entire day to spend with my daughter. I get to take care of her when she is awake and have that special bond,” she says.
That’s why she counts Nara’s room as her favorite, which is a mix of European elements, Filipino-made furniture, and vibrant prints and textures.
“It’s our happy place where I read her fairytale books every morning and night,” she says. “We play Mozart and other classical music for her to listen to. We bond and cuddle on the day bed and our fave nursing chair.” When her daughter is asleep, Alvarez concentrates on work, managing her lifestyle brand Perla Manila and the loungewear label she co-owns, Noah and Nara.
Alvarez’s other favorite places are the dining area and living room. “We order food, play some poker and even drink our [favorite] tequila and mescal,” she says. “Getting together, having scintillating conversations, talking about new business ventures and opportunities—overall, the lockdown brought us closer together.”
But self-care is also important, and her elegant, navy-blue study is her sacred nook. There, she works, reads, and comes up with ideas. Unwinding and recharging through some alone time helps her prepare for the many hats she has to wear every day.
For Alvarez, home should be where “you build the foundation and pillars to positively support your family. That foundation consists of love, warmth, and happy memories.”
Photos by Ed Simon of Studio 100
The full story on Pie Alvarez can be found in Volume 1 of Lifestyle Asia 2021.