You know how some people bake bread, or exercise to no end, or attend all webinars online? Well, I wallpaper! Redecorate! Make lamps! And paint walls!”This is Marimel Martinez-
Francisco’s cheeky reaction to Facebook friends’ comments on her photos that she has “wallpaper addiction.”
And her friends aren’t quite off the mark. The ArteFino cofounder and mom of three has kept herself busy throughout the pandemic with DIY home improvement projects that have been quite well received by social media followers, who take vicarious joy in seeing beautiful transformed spaces.
She describes her preoccupation as “therapeutic and relaxing.”
“And the [not funny] joke is that the worse the news gets, the more frantic the pace of these changes I’ve been making.”
“My DIY madness started primarily because I was eager to transform certain spaces while being extremely careful about letting outside suppliers in,” she tells Lifestyle. “Thus, I took DIY to heart. Embarking on the DIY process, whether it be wallpapering my mom’s room, or encasing a black cabinet in a blue and gold wallpaper, has been extremely therapeutic.”
Travel and Pinterest
Martinez-Francisco has no formal background in design, but the great interest was always there. Whenever she traveled prepandemic, her social media would be filled with photos of interior details, colorful windows, intricate doors, elegant restaurants, ceiling patterns, or rooms with unique furniture arrangements.
“Two memorable trips which were visually overwhelming and incredibly stimulating were to Granada, Spain, and Marrakech, Morocco. I was awestruck,” she says. “Being on quarantine this past year has awakened a creative spirit within me. I want to transform my home into something that reflects the story of our family. I’ve painted the dark brown, wood paneling found in most of the main rooms to white, making these spaces feel less masculine and formal and simply more welcoming and comfortable.”
Apart from travel—“When I’m traveling I’m constantly compiling a visual library in my mind, aside from the hundreds of photos I end up with”—Pinterest is also a great source of inspiration for her, and which she uses to organize and plan her ideas.
“I find that it helps clear my mind, however, to take a step back and find inspiration during a walk, because the colors and patterns you encounter from being outdoors are endless.”
She adds, “I Photoshop the changes first, and this helps me visualize the outcome. Also, I create a mood board using Pinterest, for the function and overall look of the area. These two steps help minimize any surprises with the final outcome.”
As reference, she also has a vast collection of coffee-table books on design, by the likes of Kelly Hoppen, Kelly Wearstler, Kenneth Cobonpue and Vito Selma.
“And at ArteFino, we are surrounded by creative people: accessories designer Adante Leyesa, rattan furniture maker E. Murio, colorful mosaic and upcycled pieces by NVC Foundation …”
In selecting materials for her DIY projects, she has been practical cost-wise “because there’s that nagging thought that my amateur skills may not execute the job to perfection.” She doesn’t want things to go to waste if the project fails.
“The peel-and-stick wallpaper is such a brilliant discovery because not only is it affordable, it’s the type you don’t have to commit to long term,” she says. “I’ve lived with solid colors and neutrals all these years that I wasn’t sure if I would be able to live with geometric and floral patterns around me for a stretch of time. Also, the wallpaper is so versatile in the sense that you can DIY it, change the look of a room, without having to spend an arm and a leg.”
She buys her paint from Ace Hardware (“I have a guy on speed dial”) while her wallpapers are sourced from Lazada and Amazon Singapore. She’s also eyeing ones on Etsy. For her lamps, she relies on Palayan Lamps, “that can execute any shape of shade you want.”
“For the duration of the work,” she says, “I find that it clears my mind. I get lost in my thoughts and I just let one of my Spotify playlists take over.”