Lydia’s house: The house we live in now was completely my wife Lydia’s concept. She imagined, pictured and designed every inch of it with the help of husband-and-wife team architects Edwin and Divina Mallari.
Living with a creative
HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE - Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) - December 16, 2018 - 12:00am

Most of the time you, dear readers, read about Lydia Paredes only in relation to me. Yes, she is my wife, and mother of my kids. She is also a grandmother to my grandchildren. She is my partner for life.

She doesn’t enjoy the limelight. She is a very private person. But I would like to write about her for my column today. I know there are so many aspects to a person and a single article will not be enough to even introduce her to you. For this article, I would like to focus on her creative side, and how she continuously transforms our home into something more elegant every now and then.

The house we live in now was completely her concept. She imagined, pictured and designed every inch of it with the help of husband-and-wife team architects Edwin and Divina Mallari. The house is mostly made of 100-year-old wood which we bought in the province. They were tearing down an old mansion to build a new modern concrete structure. We bought every piece of timber of the old mansion. With what we had, she created the design of the house and meticulously supervised the construction.

Lydia has a style about her. Whereas I look at a corner in the house and am happy with the way it is, she likes to reimagine or make it more interesting and beautiful, adding an aesthetic narrative.

Enter here: Expectedly, the house is transformed and alive with Christmas cheer like it is every year. She always makes sure the two themes of Christmas — the Christian and the Yuletide — are present.

Often she buys stuff that can remain in storage for a few months waiting for inspiration to make it come to life. When the right moment comes, she unboxes the items for use. Then new artworks, picture frames, little statues, new lamps, and abubuts suddenly appear around our home.

Chairs and sofas are perennially rearranged, reupholstered, reset and transferred to different locations. New tablecloths, placemats, chair covers, potted plants appear. There is always something new. She believe that the things inside a house should be moved around often to remove the build-up of stale energy.

Lydia is a hobbyist. In Sydney, she likes taking classes to learn different skills. She paints, does mosaic, soft sculpture. She used to teach pottery. Once she took up stained glass making. She also likes to pick up simple carpentry tools to fix things around the house. She actually repainted our house in Sydney. She has a knack for creating little “worlds” around the home where things are thematically matched and put together nicely.

She also has a green thumb and likes to plant, prune and rearrange the garden quite often. We have dozens of little pots with veggie seeds, or exotic fruits in informal nurseries and flowers waiting to be planted in the ground.

Our house is awash with both Nativity scenes and the glitter and boughs of holly.

She likes to bake delicious cookies, desserts and special meals for our family and friends. She makes the best sandwiches. She also loves coffee and relishes it in the morning. When I invite people to meetings at home, she makes sure everything is prepared and the house is “presentable.” As much as I already assure her that everything is fine as it is, she always goes the extra mile to make sure it is — by her standards.

Expectedly, the house is transformed and alive with Christmas cheer like it is every year. She always makes sure the two themes of Christmas — the Christian and the Yuletide — are present. As a result our house is awash with both Nativity scenes and the glitter and boughs of holly. Both the worldly and the spiritual are represented. Because of her, the house looks extra joyful.

Every few years, she likes to do major renovations. I like to tease her and say that she suffers from an “edifice” complex. She has the need to build, revise or fix things. When she presents a plan, I say yes even if I can barely visualize what she wants to do. Almost blindly, and with great trust, I concur. Between the two of us, she is the one who talks to carpenters, electricians, landscapers, contractors, etc. I always joke that I am only the one who pays the bills. And it is not really a joke. While I may complain each time I have to shell out, I am always amazed and impressed at how things turn out. She knows what she likes and she goes for it. And it is always a wonderful creation.

She instinctively knows and understands Feng Shui, which she says is mere common sense. Basically, she believes the flow of energy in any structure must not be trapped. A house must attract energy and must also have an exit so that everything inside is fresh and rejuvenated.

To live with a creative person is to live with the unexpected. Be ready to be surprised and delighted often. 

She isn’t finished decorating for Christmas yet. Very soon our Sydney-based daughter Ala Buencamino, her husband John and their little girl Zadie will be here. As a lola, she is crazy about our apo. Actually, we both are. She is making sure that Zadie’s experience of her home in Manila will be a memorably happy, wondrous one. 

And I know Lydia will pull it off with great style and lots of heart!

CHRISTMAS LYDIA PAREDES NATIVITY
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