Cover Philip and Small Laude pose on the balcony

This resort-like home opens a new chapter in the lives of the Laude family, whose move was unplanned yet serendipitous. Small Laude welcomes us into her residence, where good fortune and prosperity abound

A powerful divine creature that commands great respect in Chinese culture, the dragon symbolises wisdom, enlightenment, and prosperity. For those born in the Year of the Dragon, there is a special idiom that goes “hoping that the child will become a Dragon,” which is a wish that the person may become as successful and powerful as his or her Chinese zodiac animal.

And so when Small Laude’s mother-in-law, a Dragon, gifted a lot to her and husband Philip, also a Dragon, she knew they had to build their home on it. After all, two Dragons in the same area must attract abundance in spades.

“The lot on which my house now stands is actually where my old preschool used to be,” Small shares. “I ran it for eight years, but closed it down to better concentrate my efforts on new businesses we were taking on. And because my old house is just next door, I originally thought to just remove the wall between the two lots and turn this into an extension with a pool, basketball court, and a gazebo. But I did the math, and the costs—just to tear down the wall—turned out higher than expected.”

Hoping for a better solution, she turned to architect Ed Calma for advice. Calma took one look at the lot, and told her that to just use it as an extension would be a waste. “I heard him out and asked him to make a sketch—and just like that, it turned into a real house!”

On the outside, it is distinctly Ed Calma: all clean lines, glass panels, slate greys, and deep blacks. It is a handsome structure, certainly, but not one Small might have pictured herself living in if not for a trip to Los Angeles. While on vacation, she went around to look at some houses and found herself attracted to the modern architecture prevalent in the city.

This, for her, was something new, as she is “not a very big fan of things that are too cold or masculine.” But in this home, her elegant taste melds well with Calma’s contemporary style. There is a shared fondness for high ceilings and open spaces. Small confesses to not being a fan of having too many closed-off areas, which is why even the spacious dining room flows into the kitchen.

“Ed advised me to make it look pretty because you have a good view of it from the garden,” says the lady of the house. “Most of it—the countertops, the shelving, et cetera—are from Arclinea; we had everything done in bronze. I’m not at all into cooking, but it’s certainly an inspiring space to try to learn!”

There are no shortages of entertainment areas, which Small hopes her kids (she has four: three boys and one girl) will enjoy when they have friends over. There is a study room to watch films and play video games, a pool with a lounge area, a home gym, and even a spacious garden. Small has plans to have a gazebo built on the roof deck as well, adding to the resort-like feel of the residence. Not to be missed are the private areas. There are five bedrooms in total—one for the couple, and one for each of the children—with the master’s wing having its own anteroom and walk-in closet.

Much is to be said about Small’s chic sanctuary at the top floor, which is undoubtedly her favourite part of the house. The receiving area reflects Small’s sweet yet feisty character with its pale pink and lush green colour scheme. “We were going to apply herringbone wallpaper, but I couldn’t find any that I liked,” she shares.

“And then I found this banana leaf pattern that didn’t really go at all with anything else in the house, but I loved it. Ed saw it and told me I might as well go all-out and do the entire room with it. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any more of the wallpaper at the time, so I went with a striped ceiling, which works just as well.” Taking a leaf from reality star and entrepreneur Kylie Jenner’s book, Small had a pink powder room and personal Barbie-esque salon built.

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Above The garden is an oasis of serenity

At the heart of the home are the Laudes’ personal touches. Most of the furniture and decorative items are new, purchased by the family during a trip to Italy. The artworks displayed around the house—from Jose Joya to Jigger Cruz, from MADSAKI to Takashi Murakami—are from their existing collection, majority of which were purchased years ago at auctions.

Both Philip and their eldest son are both very much into art, with the younger Laude starting to bid at Sotheby’s for pieces by up-and-coming artists he finds interesting.

There are days when Small still feels nostalgic for her former house—all it takes is one glance out the window for her to see it. But she is falling in love with where she is now, and looks forward to all the memories they will make in this new home. “Despite all this not being planned, I do believe we are here to stay,” she shares. “This is the area where my children grew up. They are quite young, so they can still enjoy the house with us. And we have family here. As the Chinese like to say, having several Dragons living in the same place brings good fortune. And right now, we have two of them.”

This feature story originally titled as Small's World was published in the March 2020 issue of Tatler Philippines. Download it via Zinio, Magzter, or Pressreader.

  • PhotographyMarc Henrich Go
  • StylingLanai Manila
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