You might be familiar with Marilen Faustino-Montenegro as a model and TV host but her first love is something much different. Interior design has been a part of her life since she was young and throughout the changing seasons of her life. Currently, she shares inspiring tips and practical ways to make your home beautiful via her blog and does interior styling consultation as well as product and brand styling.
We visited Marilen at her lovely home where she talked to us about her classic aesthetic, her love for organic skincare products and easy styling tips for the holiday season.
On personal style: “I would say my style is classic, clean, and crisp with a bit of an edge."
"I like pieces that can stand the test of time and things I can wear over and over again so I favor plain pieces over prints. I love wearing neutral colors – white, beige, black and blush. For accessories, I like minimalist jewelry."
Marilen wearing (1) Nadja 2-layer disc necklace with (2) Darissa necklace and (3) Yalissa earrings
Marilen's picks: (4) Darissa necklace (5) Azra infinity necklace (6) Alix chain necklace (7) Nola chain necklace (8) Rae 2-layer necklace (9) Rama pearl earrings and (10) Nadja 2-layer disc necklace
Her fashion icons: "Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn and Olivia Palermo.”
What’s in her make-up bag: “I try to use natural skincare products as much as possible like Cosmedica’s illuminating Rose Gold Serum the Eye of Horus mascara. The Clarins lip oil is ultra-hydrating and is very subtle, good for an everyday look. I also use essential oils like peppermint, to wake me up and take my headaches away, and frankincense because it’s a multi-purpose healing oil.”
Some of Marilen's favorite skincare and make-up essentials pictured here with (11) Candra bar necklace (12) Monroe pearl earrings (13) Amori bangle and (14) Tesanee earrings
On her interior design style: “It’s a bit similar with my fashion style. I usually go for bare white walls and I add color through furniture and accessories. My taste is always evolving and it depends on the people I’m surrounded with or the places I see when I travel.”
Just some of Marilen's interior design books you will see on her coffee table
“I really love the old architecture of Paris. From the doors of their buildings to all the details that go into the interiors – the wood details on ceilings, cornices, and moldings – I find them so beautiful. I mix that with different interior design styles for my projects.”
Marilen wearing a white off-shoulder top, a blush skirt and (15) Azra infinity necklace layered with (16) Alix chain necklace
On how she discovered her passion for interior design: “My dad is a contractor and I have aunts and uncles who are also interior designers. My dad would bring me along on his projects so I was exposed to interior design very early in my life. I took it up as a course in college and graduated in 2001. Around that time, I was also doing TV commercials, fashion and beauty shoots then I eventually joined PMAP. While I was modeling, I would still have 2 to 3 interior design projects a year so I never really stopped.”
Marilen wearing (17) Rae 2-layer necklace and (18) Nola chain necklace complemented with (19) Monroe pearl earrings
On her first interior project: “I really was just following what the client wanted. When I look at the pictures now, it seems so bare. It’s very different to what I can do now.”
On what inspires her: “My children, my husband. Seeing other creatives do their work – that inspires me to continuously come up with new things. I’m judging an interior design reality show so I gained a lot of inspiration from that.”
Marilen photographed inside her kid's bedroom, which also serves as their classroom during their home-school sessions
Her advice to aspiring interior designers: “I’m lucky to have been able to study the basics of proportion, balance, and scale. I can see colors beyond what a normal person can see because I consider its composition and how it goes with the rest of the space. Studying really helps you develop your taste. Aside from good taste, it takes a lot of practice and research to hone your interior design eye."
Marilen wearing (20) Azra infinity necklace layered with (21) Alix chain necklace and (22) Rama pearl earrings
Her tips on gift-wrapping for the holidays: “Throughout the year, I collect things that come from gifts I receive – not just wrappers but also ribbons and other ornaments. I also incorporate things I pick up during my trips such as a seashell from a recent trip to the beach.”
“You can also use recycled paper or even newspaper and elevate the look with a ribbon in a bold color and berries. You don’t have to buy new materials and it doesn’t have to be so formal or all matching. As much as possible, I don’t buy new things for gift-giving because I feel like it’s not good for the environment so I try to recycle what I already have.”
Her tips for creating a beautiful tablescape: "Right now, the trend is to just do a hodgepodge of different food spreads all over the table and not arranging items so formally."
Marilen wearing an emerald asymmetric top with (23) Tesanee earrings (24) Candra bar necklace and (25) Amori bangle
Here's an idea: place chips and crackers for dipping in a lined basket instead of a ceramic piece for contrast
"Don’t align the plates into a grid. Experiment with placement such as positioning elements diagonally or play with different heights.”
Dips such as these from Serbesa MNL make it easy to entertain guests at home
“The worst thing you can do when creating a tablescape is to make everything matching. It’s better if you mix plates from one set and bowls from another set. Don’t be afraid to mix and match - it makes the spread more festive!"
Follow Marilen on Instagram: @marilenstyles
Photography by Jennie Castillo (@jenscastle)
Make-up by Angie Saul from Estee Lauder Philippines
Hair by Dollie Verniz from Jing Monis Salon
Follow The Masonry: @themasonryph
Follow Home Love Point: @homelovepoint
Follow The 57.PH: @the57.ph
Follow Serbesa MNL: @serbesamnl
(1) (10) Nadja 2-layer disc necklace
(2) (4) Darissa necklace
(3) Yalissa earrings
(5) (15) (20) Azra infinity necklace
(6) (16) (21) Alix chain necklace
(7) (18) Nola chain necklace
(8) (17) Rae 2-layer necklace
(9) (22) Rama pearl earrings - coming soon
(11) (24) Candra bar necklace
(12) (19) Monroe pearl earrings - coming soon
(13) (25) Amori bangle
(14) (23) Tesanee earrings