Touted by an international society magazine as one of Asia’s Most Stylish Women, Patricia “Trish” Panlilio bares her effortless elegance in her home as well. She is her own stylist, decorator, caterer and events organizer.
Panlilio burst onto the scene as a model and one of Manila’s Five Prettiest. Beyond being a dusky, long-legged beauty, she showed a creative streak. In the ’90s, she pioneered in making personalized presents with balloon arrangements. She still does balloon and floral arrangements for special occasions. She then developed Papillo Fine Stationers, which still manages to survive in this era of paperless communication.
She also has a catering business, nawwTy’s Kitchen, which specializes in hearty meals prepared right in her home. She organizes the Gourmand Market, a weekend food bazaar of artisanal dishes by start-up entrepreneurs and creative cooks.
The usually low-key Panlilio allowed us to photograph only the outdoor living area of her home. The house echoes the French style, a soft, sumptuous yet unassuming décor approach imbued with natural comfort.
During the interview, French jazz music wafted through the air. “It goes with the look of the house,” she says.
Panlilio’s décor and entertaining aesthetics are influenced by her travels. Her four-bedroom home depicts a Mediterranean style with its classical symmetry, detailed cornices, moldings, medallions and wrought-iron balusters.
“I like that the different parts connect to each other. I’m anti-aircon. I leave the doors open so there is cross-ventilation. I’m fond of curtains and chimes, things that move with the wind,” she says.
She shows a penchant for transitional furniture styles, mostly curves combined with straight lines, less contemporary than what is found in a modern home. Her trademark: chairs and sofas you can sink into.
Panlilio sentimentally holds on to heirloom pieces from her late mother, noted jeweler Fe Panlilio. The long narra table and the dulang have a patina of age that lends a feeling of intimacy around the house. She finds the lived-in look more welcoming.
While other homeowners would rush to place a coaster before a guest’s wet drinking glass hits the table, Panlilio doesn’t mind the watermarks. She also doesn’t mind the chipped wood. “Imperfections have more character,” she says.
There are a lot of wood pieces designed by artisans. An Art Deco cane-backed armchair, customized for Panlilio by designer Markus Schmidt, has been left by the poolside, exposed to the elements, acquiring a distressed finish, chipped paint and all.
Instinctively, she mixes period elements with pops of color. A contemporary petite emerald chair rests against a classical column. Antique Chinese warrior chairs with a clean-lined, striped ottoman and sleek picture frames compose a vignette with a contemporary edge. Furry objects such as a tortoise chair with pony-haired seat, a leopard-skin seat and a feathered stool with kamagong legs become cool counterpoints to the antiques and transitional furniture.
Purple, her favorite color, and butterflies are among the unifying elements in her eclectic home. Purple flowers blossom from vines, trays, slip covers and other accessories. Butterflies are found in ashtrays, pillowcases, china and magnifying glasses.
“I love butterflies like those prints in the pillows. The butterfly reminds me of my mom.” She recalls that when the family was setting up the funeral wake of Fe, a white butterfly would flutter around the chapel every day.
To the family, the butterfly became a symbol of the beloved matriarch. When Panlilio moved in with her father, Jose, a butterfly would hover over him while he took a nap in the terrace.
Every corner is enlivened with a colorful bouquet of fragrant casablancas and hydrangeas. Her sons, Quintin, Matteo and Luca, look forward to the freshness of flowers in the house. “When I don’t have them around, the boys look for them. They also appreciate the way I fix up the place. Every time I move things around, they compliment me. I become more motivated,” she says.
Panlilio has a keen eye and fastidious attention to detail, be it a floral arrangement, a mini potted succulent, a memento from a trip and coffee-table books. These books are clustered according to their subject matter.
“There’s zoning for them. In the lanai, you’ll find books on verandas and pools, books on outdoor entertaining and flowers are in the terrace, cookbooks on my long dining table. Other corners have books on fashion and people. The powder room has books on luxury baths,” she says.
“I like things that can be used in many ways,” she says, pointing to a blue and white Ming dragon vase, an heirloom from her mother. “More than just a décor, I use it to display flowers.”
Cold objects such as metals and plastics are taboo in her house. “If someone cites that something is unlucky, I avoid it,” she adds.
Every two months, Panlilio moves furniture around. Indoor pieces are assigned outdoors, a potted Eugenia finds itself in a new corner. She says that rearrangement not only revitalizes the house, it also enhances the flow of positive energy.
Outside, Panlilio surrounds herself with clusters of colorful flowers, trees, dogwoods, bird’s nest ferns and variegated foliage. She favors bougainvilleas for their year-round bloom. The gushing sound of the water in the pool lends a sense of calm.
When she entertains in the trellised lanai, it’s turned into an outdoor room with colorful bar, comfortable sofa and chairs.
The house is the hangout of her sons and their friends. The boys feast on paellas, slow-baked rib steaks and steaks. The food service is done with style. A simple dulce de leche is served with large strawberries and mint leaves on a bright plate, while fresh orange juice is made more refreshing with basil leaves.
“When people come in, they don’t say it’s a house made by somebody else,” says Panlilio. “It is the place where my children and I are most comfortable and most happy. There’s always food here and visitors feel at home.”
The style maven continues to create a home that’s happy, cozy—and with a woman’s soul.