By Mae Lorraine Rafols Lorenzo
Photos by Jovel Lorenzo
Zei Reyes’ Instagram handle, Modern Farmhouse MNL (@modernfarmhousemnl) perfectly reflects the look and feel of her two-storey home. Reyes, a homemaker and marketing executive, has incorporated the rustic charm of a resort farm with the modern comforts of city living.
Her home is an ongoing project that she started two years ago when it underwent renovation. Since then, Reyes has been adding both small and big details to develop the overall character of her home. There are elements that remind one of life on the farm—vintage milk cans, dried wheat ornaments, gingham prints, and wooden accents—that make the corners exude a rustic ambience.
“I started thinking of the interiors in 2017 when we had our home renovated. Most of my ideas were inspired by what
I’ve seen on the television show Fixer Upper plus the many Google searches I’ve done for farmhouse-inspired interiors. I started with just a dream of going for a farmhouse feel for our home and deciding which of our existing furniture could fit the design I was going for. From there, I looked for a color palette, furniture, and material pegs, mostly on the internet or in old home magazines,” Reyes says.
As a city girl, people were curious to know why the mom of three chose a farmhouse design for her home.
“I chose the design because I love the cozy, quaint, and charming feel which I don’t think I could achieve with a minimalist or contemporary design. I fell in love with the farmhouse design since I can relate with Fixer Upper
host Joanna Gaines and I can’t help but smile. A farmhouse really feels inviting, grounded, and real rather than cold and uptight.”
Elements in focus
Reyes says that she first had to decide on the overall color of the home which she believes was really important to bring out the farmhouse feel. She and her husband chose the combination of white and grey as base for the design.
“Aside from the paint color, the subway tiles, the light fixtures, and the big furniture were really the ones we focused on since these were the elements that would help bring our farmhouse design vision to life. We were able to achieve the open layout and farmhouse color palette with the help of my sister-in-law, who is an architect, and her team. But in terms of the design, I was in charge.”
A true do-it-yourself (DIY) project, Reyes sourced all the materials she needed including the tiles, light fixtures, furnishings, and the furniture pieces.
“It took many months of doing the furniture and home depot rounds with my husband to pick out the elements that not only fit our budget, but also had the look and feel we were going for. In terms of putting up the many decorations around our home, I got a little help from my dad, who is kind of a handyman.”
She also did not just shop in one place and preferred to explore other options. “I buy anywhere and everywhere, I can go into a store without any plan to purchase and end up buying if something catches my eye—if I see it, I know exactly how I can work with it.”
Reyes even tapped online shops just to find a good buy, hopping from one website to another in search of appro-
priate elements for her DIY project.
Today, the Reyes household is a bright and charming space accentuated by well-thought-out details in the design. The living area has a backdrop of keepsakes composed of trinkets and souvenirs that her family have accumulated over time.
“What I love about our home is the fact that it’s filled with items that are not simply objects, but gifts from my
husband, my parents, our family, and friends from various occasions and travels. You can say our house is filled with symbols of love and gratitude. I’ve learned to keep things that mean a lot to me like the invitation to my wedding or gifts from my friends and family. I think I got it from my mother who sees the value of small things like tissue with a nice nautical design which she even framed because it reminded her of my dad who is a ship captain.”
The living area is also where the kids’ corner is situated, instantly creating a family space in the house. Knickknacks are placed as wall decors, mostly made of wood to keep up with the theme. Mirrors give an illusion of space while framed photos add a personal touch.
The kitchen and dining areas are also where most of the farmhouse aesthetics converge. At the center is a large wooden table made of mango wood which the family had refurbished to give it a seasoned appeal. The table is accentuated by a metal lighting fixture which Reyes got for a bargain, and then decorated with faux plant hangings to soften the design.
A gray accent chair with a monogrammed pillow is situated in the corner of the dining area, adding another comfortable space for the family. A buffet and console table with more keepsakes and an accent mirror serve as a backdrop for the dining area. Two large wreaths are placed on the walls to add to the rustic charm of the house—gifts from her parents from a trip in the US.
A nook by the kitchen area is also a charming corner of the home. Tall stools, a pretty lighting fixture, and even the cover of the water dispenser add character to the space. A chalkboard by the wall is another unique feature, with Reyes’ kids leaving small notes for the whole family on special occasions.
Her favorite area? “It would probably be our living room because this is where our three girls hang out, nap, do their homework, play, and eat—it’s like a communal space. Ours is actually a very lived-in living room.”
Reyes admits her farmhouse project is still unfinished, but it is one that she enjoys doing and hopes not to conclude anytime soon.
“The thing I like about designing our home is that it doesn’t really end. It’s like a living process where it adjusts based on the phase where our family is currently at. But if I have an inspired idea all of a sudden, and I have the budget, normally it would just take me one to two weekends to finish mini-projects. If it’s just accessorizing, it takes a day or two.”
At present, Reyes continues to experiment, this time with colors. “I’m planning to add more colors like olive green, rust, and mustard yellow. I also want to use some artificial plants though I really want to try using real plants like eucalyptus or dried statice.”
This modern farmhouse is the opposite of a minimalist home. More things around the house make the space feel more warm and inviting. “I’ve always been passionate about making things pretty. I got it from my mom, who is actually a big influence on how I am today as a homemaker. I credit my parents for giving me (and my older brother) the gift of a lovely home, which I’ve always been proud of. I want to give my husband and my girls the same—a home they can love and cherish for the rest of their lives.”