This Ed Calma-Designed Home Is Tailor Fit for a Family

Architect Ed Calma did a superb job fitting the modern home to the family's personality.
IMAGE Toto Labrador

Every family goes through transitions and changes—the lucky ones find their milestones marked by homes that live to tell their story. One such family sees the latest chapter in their lives take place in a modern three-story home decked in wood, metal, glass, and the simple straight lines and right angles that exist in between.

While the structure may be new, its conception began long before the property was purchased or the floor plans were set into blueprints. The family began simply, moving from one rental to the next, taking themselves from Quezon City to Ortigas to Makati. “When you and your husband are both in business, you tend to invest whatever extra funds you have. We decided to just delay buying property so we didn’t really know exactly where we would live,” shares the wife. It also turned out as a basic experiment—in order to find an environment that would eventually be the perfect fit, it was necessary to try different places out. The circumstances kept the family non-committal but made for a living situation that was no-fuss and serviceable. “In a rental, you’re forced to live within a space. No thought goes into the layout, the floor plan, and the little details. It’s easy.”

A flight of stairs leads to the family’s recreational spaces.

The couple had been married for about 15 years when the economic recession turned fortuitous, allowing them to finally set roots. Property investment had always been on their minds, but there was no active, ongoing search for a place—the status quo was always to rent. With the drop in market prices, however, came an urgent need to turn things around. “Luckily, we saw an opportunity and made a decision.”

The shift from living in a pre-determined space to building their own home promised to be an arduous process. Constructing from the ground up is never an easy task; and for a family whose inclinations always leaned toward the modern rather the traditional, there was no other architect right for the job than Ed Calma. “It’s a house that’s tailored specifically to us,” says the wife. “You see the boxy structure, the layout, and you know it’s not your typical home—but that’s a very Ed Calma thing. It’s his style.”


The mix between east and west creates a contrast of sorts—the resulting tableau is both understated yet elevated, sparse yet rich.

The foyer

The main prerequisite was open space and flexibility, which is the basis for the U-shaped structure of the home. The house is centered on an open garden area, consisting of a manicured lawn, well-appointed greenery, and a swimming pool. Surrounding it are three basic wings, each serving a specific function: public spaces which are frequented both by family and guests, a private space which consists of rooms dedicated to use of the couple and their three boys, and a pseudo bachelor’s pad that’s designed to contain the man of the home’s interests and expansive collection of books and wine. Everything is contained in an architectural shell that is signature Calma— vertical lines, high ceilings, and spaces that flow flawlessly into one another. The home is polish and precision without pretension. Its understated palettes and minimal furniture, curated art pieces, and well-placed embellishments show a propensity for function above all. Every space serves a purpose; every element has its place.

Inside the living room

There are two points of impact once you enter the living room: its three-story high ceiling and its breadth. A Kenneth Cobonpue metal and bamboo screen serves as an introduction to the space, taking visitors from the foyer into the expansive living room that’s set in front of an indoor basketball court (an homage to the husband’s old home growing up), which doubles up as a formal dining area on the rare occasion that the couple throws a dinner or cocktail party. The transition is seamless—everything from the black and white Zobel hanging in the foyer, to the grays and beige of the living room couch, to the white wall and hoop of the court, looks like it all belongs to one cohesive space. The furniture is kept European, mostly for practical considerations. “We needed to find pieces that fit the scale of the house. We couldn’t go for low-set furniture or anything that was too frail,” she explained. As a counterpoint to the western influence, most of the décor, including the artwork and sculptures, is Filipino. The mix between east and west creates a contrast of sorts—the resulting tableau is both understated yet elevated, sparse yet rich.


Among the highlights of the house is an indoor basketball half court for the family members to enjoy.

More enclosed rooms contained in the more public wing of the house are the dining room and kitchen, which the family uses daily. “We don’t have a ‘formal’ dining room because we realized that people don’t really use one,” she adds. As with all the spaces, every decision was intentional. The dining room connects to an annex, which is used by the entire family. As the couple runs their business from home, it sometimes turns into a meeting or conference room, or a study area for the children.

Its understated palettes and minimal furniture, curated art pieces, and well-placed embellishments show a propensity for function above all.

The private wing of the family is further separated into functional parts—areas for the family’s different interests, including a music room on the second floor overlooking the basketball court, and a multi-purpose area on the third floor that is used when friends hang out and sleep over. During school vacations, they spend a lot of time there, says the couple. They value giving their kids their independence—hence the private space, which is also an earshot away from the bedrooms.

Connecting these areas to the bedrooms is perhaps the structure’s most widely used room, the study. “When kids grow up, they tend to retreat into their own bedrooms and that’s something we wanted to avoid. I think we were able to pull it off successfully with this space,” the wife shares. It was a boon to the study that the internet signal was weak in the bedroom area—most family time, therefore, became relegated to the study, which houses an entertainment center, a work table, and both husband and wife’s offices. Adjacent to the study is a multi-purpose room that serves as the family’s makeshift dining area. Accessible to the kitchen by a hidden flight of stairs, it’s where the family have their meals when they don’t feel like heading down.


The multi-purpose room also serves as a makeshift dining area.

The final wing of the U-shaped structure is linked to the bedrooms on both the second and third floors but has a separate and more public entrance across the garden and by the swimming pool. The designated “man cave” of the structure houses a gym on the first floor (the entire family is composed of gym rats) and a long-span library on the second floor. With shelf upon shelf of floor-to-ceiling books as well as cozy seating areas to cocoon yourself in, the entire family can find themselves flipping through pages undisturbed in this area. Just beside the books is a private cave containing a collection of wines. “At first, we just planned this space as a library—we didn’t expect people to be brought up for tastings and dinners, but that’s sometimes how spaces work,” she remarks. “You can plan all you want for your home, but until you live in it, you cannot really anticipate every function or need.”

The swimming pool

It has been four years since the family moved into their home, but it is still a constantly evolving space. “We wish we could have more wall space for paintings and a bigger room for the wine collection,” the wife says. Then again, the sparseness of their space allows the family to whittle things down to what they find most important. With a place to live that is thoughtful and temperate, pragmatic and polished, the pièce de résistance is certainly the house itself.

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Chinggay Labrador
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