Love makes a chic, happy home for Rajo Laurel and Nix Alanon

Rajo and Nix: They design, travel, cook, eat, pray, love

Love makes a chic, happy home for Rajo Laurel and Nix Alanon

10 THINGS (The Philippine Star) - February 4, 2018 - 12:00am

Their home is what you would call, in Tagalog, “bahay ng bayan.” They maintain a guest book that dates back to 2008 and it holds many, many secrets — former lovers now married to different people, couples you may not have known were couples, doodles and dedications of drunken thoughts, people from fashion, entertainment, business, and every industry in between. (If only their walls could talk!) They’re that couple that everyone loves being with. Here are a few things you should know about fashion designer Rajo Laurel and interior designer Nix Alañon.



1. Theirs was a whirlwind romance that made it to 12 years and counting.

 “Candidly? We dated for three months and realized we wanted to move in with each other,” Rajo shares. They add that decisions like that are not for everyone, but that though “the timeframe was quite brief, it really just felt right.”

2. Despite Rajo being the one in fashion, it’s Nix who takes up 75 percent of their closet space.

 “Our old unit is also my closet, and I have another closet in my office,” Nix says unabashedly. “He just has a lot of clothes, and I’ve learned to live with it,” Rajo shares. “I’ve already worked out that I live in a uniform. I wear the same things. Even if I buy new things, it’s the same thing.”

 “With Nix, he has options in his head. And just before we head out the door, he’d want to change his shoes, or his shirt. Before you know it, the bedroom is already a cornucopia of clothes, shoes, accessories that’s exploded,” Rajo adds. “It really depends on my mood for the day,” Nix defends himself. “I can never plan what to wear the night before. It’s not like him that I have exactly two colors to choose from — black or dark blue,” Nix says with a chuckle.

3. Their absolute favorite thing to do at home is invite friends over and cook for them.

 “I remember when we started dating, Rajo told a lot of his friends that his new partner is a good cook, and almost every week we had guests! Pressure!” Nix says laughing. “You even had a chef friend come over,” Rajo recalls. “Patulong level na ako nun! Kasi naubusan ako ng menu,” Nix retorts.

 “We both cook. When it’s a Filipino menu, that’s Nix. If it’s Italian or Western, that’s me. Or sometimes one does the cooking, the other does the table setting. Or if the guests start to arrive, one finishes up the cooking, and the other one entertains. It’s become second nature to us now,” Rajo says.

4. On merging their styles in the design of their home: “I add. Nix removes,” Rajo laughs. 

 “Our styles are very different, but it really compliments each other. We’re both eclectic,” Nix says.

 “I like a lot of things — I’m a frustrated minimalist,” Rajo says. “In our old apartment, the walls were filled with paintings, there was no space for anything else. Or you’d pick up toys here and there. There was just so much stuff,” Nix recalls. “There was one time, I was on holiday and when I got home, Nix surprised me by changing the whole apartment. The walls used to be all red, even the ceiling, and he changed it to a nice sage green. I loved it,” Rajo shares.

 “Design and creativity is not a monologue. It’s an ongoing conversation, and I really appreciate that. It becomes more interesting.”

5. They criticize each other’s work — but do so constructively.

 “Of course we do! It’s very healthy that way,” Rajo quips. “But Nix criticizes my work more than I criticize his.” They both laugh. “I just make sure that what I say is constructive, like, ‘You should do this,’ or ‘You shouldn’t be doing that.’ I know that Rajo’s work has so much opportunity — being in the industry for so long, and having such a huge reach,” Nix says.

 “I advise Nix business-wise, more than on his creativity,” Rajo says. “He would ask advice about his staff or personnel.” “I’m too nice, daw,” Nix jumps in. “He’s really too nice, sometimes to the point of being taken advantage of,” Rajo explains.

6. “Nix has the memory of a fish. I, on the other hand, have the memory of an elephant,” Rajo says.

 “He has a peculiar sense of memory, he tends to forget so many things. I never forget. We complement each other in a way,” Rajo says. “Fish and elephant!” Nix laughs loudly.

Rajo’s biggest pet peeve with Nix: “When he takes 15 minutes more to get ready, when we’re all set to go. Sometimes, I actually take a bit of a cat nap.”

Nix’s biggest pet peeve with Rajo: “Naku, marami. Nakakalimutan ko nga, eh! Tell me na lang, help me na lang,” Nix prods Rajo. “Even if you ask him, he won’t remember, that’s one of my biggest blessings,” Rajo says laughing. “When we have dinner parties at home, he’s so on the edge. And I’m very chill,” Nix shares. “Because for me, it has the same result whether you’re stressed about it or you’re chill about it. So I don’t want to stress myself out. 'Yun, that’s my pet peeve.”

7. Being together for over a decade has made them assimilate certain traits from each other.

 “Nix has this wonderful quality about him. He has this lightness, in Tagalog, ‘napakagaan.’ Kahit saan mo ilagay, kahit sino ang kasama niya, he’s so easy to get along with. I’m more uptight to be honest, it’s just my nature. I’ve learned to be sort of lighter,” Rajo shares. “And Nix is super patient. I, on the other hand, am very impatient. I’m working on that,” Rajo adds.

 “Rajo has a very good business sense. And his generosity — to other people, and to foundations he has and is still helping out. Not a lot of people know, when designers or any other person asks him for advice about starting a business, or where to get this or that, he always shares what he knows,” Nix says.

8. They’ve traveled together to 54 countries in the span of their almost 13 years together.

 “We really love Italy. We go for the fashion, furniture, and art. Each time we go, there’s always something new to see,” Rajo shares. “We love how Italians put things together — the way they dress, their eye for mixing prints and colors, interiors, and most of all, the food!” Nix adds. They also name Denmark, Sweden, Portugal, Japan, Brazil, Peru, Argentina, Russia, Bhutan, Croatia, Czech Republic, as some of the places they’ve been to that have inspired them the most. “Design is everywhere, you just pick things up,” Rajo says.

On buying things from the home while traveling, the jetsetter couple give this piece of advice: “You have to know at that moment. ‘Am I just buying this because I’m here, right now, and dalang-dala ako sa moment na ito? Or can I really use this in my home?’ For us, eight out of the 10 things we bought abroad were garbage, we didn’t use it. So we really think about it carefully before we buy anything.”

9. Their top tip when setting up your home: “Never buy everything at the same time. It ends up looking like a showroom.”

 “You have to grow into it,” Rajo says. “Of course, it’s also to space out your finances, but just like life, you need to give it time to grow.”

Their home is a mix of different pieces they have acquired through the years. Curated pieces from Ito Kish, heirloom pieces from Rajo’s grandmother, more contemporary pieces from West Elm, Furnitalia, Firma, and B&B Italia, even choice finds from Bangkal and Bautista, and of course, pieces from Nix’s eponymous line, PhoeNix Home.

Nix shares three major tips in designing your home: First is to have a working budget and to stick to it; to invest in the important pieces; and to keep in mind how you will use the space. “You have to understand the function of the space. If you will pick a sofa for your family area that you will use a lot, it has to be really comfortable as opposed to just looking nice,” Nix explains.

 “When you put two different personalities together, there’s this exciting result that is unexpected,” Rajo adds. “Like this table setting, I start and Nix adds things. It’s very eclectic and interesting. It probably won’t work in other homes, but it works in ours.”

10. Their top tip on keeping your home chic, even with indoor pets: “Candles!”

 “If you notice, there’s a lot of candles,” Rajo says. I look around and see at least five scented candles scattered in the living area. Their Pomeranians Allegra and Tyler are jumping and running around. “If you’re a pet owner and you’ll entertain guests, candles are a must! It helps. And dark lighting, para hindi makita ang imperfections,” Rajo laughs.

 “Training is important. Learn about the breed and train them. Tyler has a diaper when we have guests over. But accidents do happen, like recently, Allegra has had this nervous tick and she pees. So she peed all over the bed,” Nix adds.

* * *

Close to 13 years together, two dogs later, and currently building their third home by the beach — what is their secret to maintaining a chic and happy home? “Just like anything, don’t sweat the small stuff,” Rajo says. “I used to always say this, just keep it light and keep it cute,” Nix ends.

* * *

Message the author at @iamsuperbianca

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