At Genteel Home, Katrina de Leon serves as the principal designer, highlighting the integral roles of craftsmen and consumers in the creation of bespoke furniture
The virtue of bespoke furniture lies in its ability to capture a consumer’s essence. “[Creating custom furniture] is not just a job,” says Katrina De Leon, founder of the Pampanga-based furniture brand. “It’s a way of celebrating the things I love, like well-designed living spaces and cool decor pieces, and connecting with others who appreciate the beauty and emotional bond that spaces and furniture can create.”
Genteel Home is about creating a space where people feel seen, she says, and there’s something so intimate about someone thinking about what you might appreciate. “It says, ‘Hey, you matter. I invested my time, my energy, to give you something you’ll truly cherish,” she adds. “Suddenly, your furniture is not just furniture; it’s a piece [that carries] meaning.”
A leap of faith
The goal wasn’t always so clear cut. Back then, De Leon held a secure position as an in-house interior designer at the Asian Development Bank (ADB) where she was involved in some remarkable projects, including designing ADB’s presidential reception for the late former president Benigno Aquino III. “During this period [in 2013], something unexpected happened,” she recounts. “A client approached me to design a piece of furniture for her new place, and [before I realized it], I had already fallen in love with furniture making.”
She shares that with the unwavering support of her clients and friends, things started rolling. “More and more requests poured in, and I [began to consider] that this might be more than just a side gig,” she says. “However, leaving a job I loved for something uncertain was scary.” It was a career crossroads for De Leon. Seeking guidance, she reached out to her boss and co-workers, and turned to prayer. “I wanted to be sure that I was headed in the right direction.”
Shortly after, the Kapampangan designer set up her bespoke furniture brand in her cozy apartment. “Just two employees,” she smiles, “and this incredible journey began.” Eight years later, De Leon was opening Genteel Home’s first boutique showroom in her hometown.
Collaboration and craftsmanship
Since its humble beginnings, Genteel Home has maintained a strong commitment to quality. “We’re meticulous about it. That’s our promise to ourselves and our clients,” she emphasizes. Notably, with today’s cutting-edge technology, the team’s design process has become “pretty seamless.” According to the founder, they readily embrace 3D tools, which she describes as their digital playground. “It’s fantastic because we can create these tailor-made, one-of-a-kind furniture designs on the spot. Clients get to see their ideas take shape, and they absolutely love it. Their visions come alive before their eyes.”
Once the team has completed the design phase, the project manager takes charge. They are responsible for ensuring that everything stays on course according to the game plan, and they keep clients updated on the project’s progress. De Leon reflects on the team’s essence, stating, “Here’s where the heart of Genteel Home comes in,” referring to their group of craftsmen. “Our craftsmen are like family. These are individuals who have been with us since day one. Every stroke and cut [they make] is a reflection of Filipino skill and brilliance.”
Spotlighted on Genteel Home’s landing page, the Solihiya collection is a true embodiment of Filipino craftsmanship. She shares, “Designing this collection, I remember the moments spent with my lola during my childhood. These memories are intertwined with the furniture that filled her home,” she pauses. “In Philippine culture, passing down traditions and belongings to the next generation is a cherished practice. In the same spirit, the Solihiya collection aspires to become cherished heirlooms in every Filipino household.”
For more information, visit Genteel Home’s official website.