Amina Aranaz-Alunan: The new way to do ‘old and new’

By combining new elements with heirloom furniture, for instance, she has struck a harmony where textures, shapes and styles blend and differ delightfully. Yet, the subtle synchronicity and the dramatic differences result in a luxurious feel.

Aranàz-Alunan’s décor style is the product of her environment. She grew up in a household surrounded by antiques and furniture that have acquired a patina with age.  When she studied at the Istituto Marangoni in Italy, she was exposed to historical buildings with strikingly modern interiors.

Returning to Manila, she established Aranàz, a fashion accessories venture with her mother and sister, and eventually founded the School of Fashion and the Arts (SoFA), where she is now the executive director.

The décor of her three-bedroom townhouse in the suburbs reveals Aranàz-Alunan’s creative journey. Key pieces are like markers in her life. After she and mobile marketing executive, Rafael “Rafa” Alunan IV, got married and began to make a home, they acquired the basic couch and bed. The couch, then in maroon and emerald green upholstery, was a hand-me-down from her parents.

“I chose a neutral palette for the apartment. Little by little, we bought pieces together. I wasn’t sure of what he liked, and I was still discovering my design style. I was very conscious of how he would react. My style is feminine so I try to inject some masculinity,” she recalls.

With a growing family, the Alunans moved to what is their present townhouse in a safe and child-friendly neighborhood. By then, Rafa had given his wife carte blanche in styling the house. Meanwhile, Amina was making a name for herself in the fashion industry.

The original dark interiors have been whitewashed and the open-plan living room, dining room and lanai flow into one contiguous, airy space. The clean backdrop gives the house a pared-down, contemporary feel despite the period furniture made by her grandfather or given by her mother.

(Right) The wicker stool, fabric-covered dining chairs, glass and wood table, antique cabinet, glass pendant and mirror blend harmoniously to create spatial depth.
Photos by PJ Enriquez

She recalls that the antiques and vintage pieces seemed ordinary in the traditional interiors of the homes of her parents and grandparents. Against the bright and clean background of the townhouse, however, these same pieces appear fresh.   

Aranàz-Alunan styles the home the way she does her bags. “I love contrasts and unexpected mixes. Just like my handbags, I value hand work and intricate details.”

In the living room, the old sofa was upholstered in white to match the modern white color scheme.  The coffee table echoes  Aranàz-Alunan’s

Aranaz shows her flair in mixing furniture and accessories from different periods and styles to avoid décor clichés. Her idea of a décor is a well-edited space wherein the elements have been accumulated over time.

attraction to the old-and-new style: the top is made from an antique carved door encased in glass while the base has  exaggerated ball-shaped legs.

The cowhide rug, the black-and-white abstraction by Ivan Acuña, and the black-and-white patterned pillows set off the formality of the period-looking pieces. Their patterns create an impact of color in a room full of   light and wood tones.

Aranàz-Alunan points out that she is partial to contours. Thus, the  curves of the antique throne chairs and the Chinese altar table blend with the modern, white round woven chair and the curvaceous sofa. A masculine, angular chrome and black leather armchair brings an unexpected contrast.

To freshen up the look of the dining room, Aranàz-Alunan keeps a variety of slipcovers for the woven chairs. Against the white walls, the coolness of Oriental ceramics and the warm patina of the antique bar cabinet and lounge chair make for a timeless ambiance in the dining room.

As an unpredictable touch, she adds a quirky moose sconce by Kenneth Cobonpue and his glass pendant lamp over the glass dining table.

The lanai décor tone changes to a laid-back feel, owing to the lush plants. While the graceful, intricate rattan furniture and the rustic and elaborately carved chairs made by her grandfather represent diverse styles, they share the quality craftsmanship so that they look just right together.

As in many homes, some accessories hold sentimental value. The paintings are reminders of the couple’s shopping trips. The ceramic vases and lamps are links to Aranàz-Alunan’s family.

In the end, the house maintains a blend of the elegance of the past and the vibrancy of the present.

The lanai looks cool and modern in white, especially when used from floor to ceiling. The antique furniture looks current against the clean background.

For Aranàz-Alunan, the mix of disparate elements reflects the confident style of both a designer and an executive. “I’ve grown wiser in my decisions in business and at home.”

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