Carmi Martin goes bold and gold

(Regular subscribers and on-line fans of the Philippine Daily Inquirer are perhaps aware that apart from fashion, personality sketches and travel, I also write about private and public spaces. Since I’m not an architect nor an interior designer, I try to give every living or working space I write about a lifestyle spin. Why, for instance, did the owner or his or her interior designer went for this color or type of furniture? How does the family members’ lifestyle reflect on their choice of furniture and accent pieces as well as the configuration of their home?

(I’d like to share with you a recent piece I wrote that, for some reason, failed to see print. It was designed by no less than actress Carmi Martin, a graduate of a certificate course in interior design at the Philippine School of Interior Design. From time to time, I will be featuring interesting living spaces in this blog to lighten up your mood and take away our minds off–if only momentarily–the problems our society faces and the often disgusting antics displayed by many of our politicians and bureaucrats. All pictures in this piece were shot by photographer Pat Mateo.–AYV)

THE client made it clear that she prefers light, bright finishes such as gold and aubergine. Carmi Martin had to balance her requirements with that of her client’s children’s more modern taste. She combines light gold walls and off-white floors with light gray furniture pieces and sage green drapes. A gold chandelier with leafy details provides the contiguous areas with a focal point. (Pat Mateo)

WHEN she started working on a plain, no-frills condo unit in Tagaytay Midlands several months ago, celebrity decorator Carmi Martin’s main challenge was how to reconcile the mom’s love for rich, brilliant colors such as gold and aubergine (French for violet), with her adult children’s preference for more subdued shades and simple, more modern lines.

Although the unit was quite livable when it was turned over to the family, its plain color scheme composed of white and earthy neutrals didn’t appeal to the mom. But its high ceiling and relatively generous floor area offered Carmi plenty of ideas and possibilities to work on.

The three-bedroom unit, she says, underwent a major overhaul, including the addition of a loft that now doubles as a den-slash-guest room.

THE client’s gold-trimmed Noritake dishes come in handy in Martin’s table arrangement. For a modern touch, she does away with huge flower arrangements in lieu of a pair of tall glass candle holders. (Pat Mateo)

“It is meant as a weekend home for the family,” says Carmi. “Although the son is already married, the mom wants him and his new wife to feel at home, too, whenever they’re here.”

Carmi also had to take into consideration the mom’s California-based daughter’s request. Since she’s a surfer, the daughter wanted her bedroom to have a nautical theme.

“I used alternating shades of white and royal blue for her room,” she says. “I also accented the walls with framed corals.”

CELEBRITY decorator Carmi Martin and her latest project, a four-bedroom condo unit in Tagaytay Midlands (Pat Mateo)

Carmi also avoided the use of wenge, the dark brown color that instantly adds warmth and character to any home, on wooden doors, cabinets and shelves since the mom finds the shade too somber. She limited its use by combining it with shades of blue and gray in the son’s bedroom.

“For public areas, I chose colors that are light and easy on the eyes such as matte gold, taupe, off white and light gray,” says Carmi. “I also went for framed nondescript but feminine prints.”

She also chose silk drapes and a number of accent pieces in sage green. Carmi also opted for tropical Asian touches in the form of a wall accent made of laminated bamboo.

“It would have been easier to install Roman shades on several huge picture windows,” she says, “but it would have looked too bland and cold. Drapes instantly impart a space with a homey and elegant feel.”

To keep public areas from looking too “resort,” she used a matte gold chandelier with leafy metal accents as the dining room’s focal point.

And since living room and dining area occupy one long, continuous space, she designed a drop ceiling over the sala that doubles as a design element-cum-modern lighting system and imaginary border separating the two areas.
The lighting system in the living room, with its white cove lighting and yellow pin lights, is also a careful study in contrast.

“I really wanted all-out yellow light because the color is flattering to the skin,” says Carmi, “but at the same time, the mom wants her living room well-lit because she hosts regular bible-reading studies with friends.”

Like the padded sofa in the living room, the dining room chairs are also upholstered in light gray. Simply Asian made most of the furniture pieces following Carmi’s specifications.

She hid the stairs leading to the loft with an accent wall with a series of shelves. Both elements were painted in gradating shades of green.

To stay within the budget, Carmi opted not to retile the unit’s main bathroom. Instead, she covered the wall with water-resistant wallpaper in matte gold. For an added touch of drama, she also had several geometric wall sconces installed in the bathroom.

Martin goes all-out in the master bedroom by using her female client’s favorite royal shades such as gold, champagne and aubergine. Gold is confined to certain elements such as walls and throw pillows. (Pat Mateo)

“The right wall paper has the ability of instantly transforming a room’s look,” she says. “Although it’s not as expensive as having a room repainted or retiled, you have to allot some funds for maintenance. Quality wall paper can usually last up to five years.”

SINCE the California-based daughter is a surfer, she requested Martin to play with white and royal blue. Martin also used accent pieces sourced from the sea and added an extra bed so that the daughter could invite a friend over whenever she’s vacationing in the Philippines. (Pat Mateo)

Carmi went all out in the master bedroom, which doubles as the mom’s private space. From achieving an acceptable compromise between mom

ANOTHER challenge Martin had to deal with was the mom’s aversion to anything brown, including wenge. She was able to use a bit of wenge, in the form of cabinet frames and shelves, in the son’s bedroom. She then combined it with shades of blue such as navy, teal and dove gray. (Pat Mateo)

and her children in the unit’s public areas, her challenge shifted to judicious use of available colors at her disposal.

“I was given by the mom license to use all her favorite shades,” says Carmi. “It didn’t mean, however, that I could do whatever I wanted. Gold is rather tricky color if you don’t know how to use it. The key is finding the right shade of gold and combining it with other colors.”

In this case, she used gold, champagne and aubergine as accents to the taupe headboard and textured beige walls. To give the room an illusion of space, she used framed mirrors that double as cabinet doors. Even the mom’s dresser table is cladded with strips of mirror.

The rich colors are combined mainly to accent pieces such as pillows, pillowcases, bed throws and comforters. And in keeping with the mom’s preference for light-colored wood, Carmi had all the parquet floors sanded to a lighter finish before having them sealed. (Visit for more details)

MARTIN channels art deco influences in this mirror-cladded dresser table with three-paneled triptych-framed mirrors. Her framed artworks are decidedly low-key and feminine, so as to complement and not clash with all that gold. (Pat Mateo)

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