Quickly pointing at the floor space next to the bed, Yell Villareal, my classmate and good friend from way back in school, explains that is where her 11-year old daughter, Claudia, positions her mattress to sleep at night.
Claudia shares a room with her sister Julia, 18 years old, for whom their current room was originally designed.
“They are constantly bickering and fighting about the space,” says Yell over our first zoom meeting. “We want to give the girls the room that they dream of and Claudia to have a space she can finally call her own.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Villareal children, like the most, are forced to stay at home, attend remote learning and limit social interaction. With no properly dedicated personal spaces for both girls, the current set up meant more daily discord.
Before the Renovation
View from the Entrance
Claudia has been co sleeping either with her parents or her older sister, Julia.
She has always thought of the girl’s room as her sister’s.
The list required from my design is plain and simple: two beds, two vanity desks, two study areas, two wardrobe system and equal space allocation. Julia and Claudia are to share a room with designated spaces.
There are other things to consider such as tying up the seven years age gap, favorite colors, who gets the wall and who gets the window; but none of these are factors to contend with. I can give all that is required in a space plan.
For the past years, I have anchored my most essential design inspiration on the connection built from face to face interactions and intimate conversations with my clients. They have shared with me their stories and dreams that ignited my passion and acted as fuel to my creativity.
This time, I extracted information thru our initial zoom session to help me in my design process. Limited to only virtual meetings with Yell and the girls, I struggled to find my emotional connection to the project.
ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER
Aware of Yell’s busy office schedule, I hesitated to ask her questions while at work but she always managed to address my concerns as soon as she was able to. Her replies were always so encouraging that I felt free to raise design issues when I needed.
I appreciated her energy and enthusiasm in our zoom meetings after a long day’s work, giving her 100% to the project and to her girls.
Zoom Meeting With Yell and the Girls
Julia likes the color blue and Claudia likes pink… where do we go?
Chris Villareal, Yell’s supportive husband, was steady with his decisions. He lets Yell and the girls deal with the details of the project.
One time, I received a message from Chris asking, “what size of TV do we need?” He was in the store, checking for the TV required for the bedroom. I imagined him donning a facemask and a face shield. He sends a photo of a TV with a steel tape measure extended in front of it.
Chris Villareal, Julia and Claudia’s dad, check for TV options
and is ready with his steel measuring tape.
I admired Chris and Yell’s involvement in giving their girls the room they dream of. They gave freedom to the girls to communicate what they wanted and stepped in when necessary. I was fortunate to witness their parenting style and family dynamics thru virtual experience during the design process.
Unknowingly, Yell’s positive responses, involvement and availability despite her busy schedule and Chris’ consistently steady support on the project, amidst this pandemic, slowly translated to me as simple acts of love for their children. It was familiar and recognisable. This is where I found my connection.
THE GIRLS’ ROOM PROJECT
Julia and Claudia share their interior design experience.
Before the Renovation
View from the Entrance
Julia: I was hesitant at first to have my room renovated because I was used to having my space with an annoying but loveable intruder. But I was also excited at the prospect of having my own study and vanity areas separate from my sister’s.
We have different personalities and clashes are inevitable.
Claudia: I was super duper excited when I heard about having our room fixed! I will finally have my own bed and not sleep on the mat on the floor beside my sister because she says I kick her a lot while sleeping. I was also thinking I can finally invite my friends over for a playdate.
After the Renovation
View from the Entrance
Julia: I wanted simple and clean while my sister wanted so much frou frou and flair. I like blue. She likes pink. But I think she secretly admires me so it came to a point that whatever I wanted turned out to be her fabulous idea.
Julia’s Blue Study Board
Julia’s Study Table and Vanity in a Row
Pinks and Blues, Getting the Best of Both Worlds
The Nail Paints Feel at Home
Julia: The most important for us to have is our own personal space. We were promised this and it was delivered. Everything is fair in space. It’s a girl’s room without being too girly. We also have so much cabinets and drawers to put our things.
Claudia :Having our room designed, for me, is a priority! I have my needs too since I’m growing up. I’ve never had my own space. Everyone complains I have things in every room.
WHAT I LOVE!
“I love everything!”
Julia takes the bottom of the bunk bed.
Julia: I love everything! My bed is so cozy. I have my cove, charging station, vanity, study area. I love that there is an invisible demarcation line between my sister’s space and mine but the room still looks like there is no glaring division.
My sister and I haven’t argued about bed space, or that your stuff is all over the place. It’s a really perfect room to share with someone.
Claudia gets the top bed.
Claudia loves her vanity!
Claudia: I love my vanity! I designed it. Or it was my idea! It’s so important to have your own vanity! And I finally have a bed to myself. I sleep longer now. Mom should’ve thought of this earlier. And we have our own TV at the foot of our beds. Ate and I don’t have to argue anymore about what to watch. It’s so peaceful now. My sister and I get along nowadays.
Claudia’s Pink Study Board
THE DESIGN EXPERIENCE
Julia: Tita Aline was very accommodating and open to our ideas. She would listen to what we wanted but would honestly tell us what will work for the room and what will not. Sometimes, what we wanted was not available given the pandemic situation and the supplies were not readily available. But Tita Aline was resourceful and we even got better stuff.
Claudia: When we get a bigger house, I still want Tita Aline to design my own room with space to dance ballet. She’s my favorite Tita. She always wants me in the zoom talk with Mom because she likes my ideas.
Thank you Dad and Mom! I really love it!.
Meaningful Connections with the Villareals
Claudia (In Front) Lance, Julia, Aline Delfino-Bautista, Yell Villareal (L-R)
SAFETY IS PRIORITY
Face Shield and Face Mask