“Whenever people ask me where I’m from, it’s a pretty loaded question,” says mechanical engineer Rafael Domingo. “The short answer is that I’m from Houston. The long answer is that I was born in the Philippines and then every 3-4 years, I would move to a different country. It’s hard to tell exactly where I’m from.” Recent months have found Rafael living his post-grad life in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in an apartment he is slowly making his own. An avid photographer and traveler, Rafael is an aesthete at heart—and he has taken on the task of decorating his one bedroom with serious consideration. “It definitely took some time to curate the right pieces for my space,” he notes. “I’m pretty particular with what I want, so I’ll spend more time than I’m willing to admit looking for the perfect piece to add to my space.” Hunting down the right sofa and TV, for example, took months. “I couldn’t find something that met my aesthetic requirements!”
The goal in mind? Evoking the cozy air of the coffee shops where he spent much of his college years, studying and hanging out with friends. “There’s something about coffeeshops that make them a really great place to both entertain and get work done,” Rafael says. Diving into his Instagram, an outlet he curates as judiciously as his home, one can see his experiments in interior design unfold: the dining table shifts from one side of the room to the other; framed photographs (most taken by Raphael himself) are shuffled and re-shuffled. In a way, Rafael’s penchant for travel and movement is manifested in his flexible approach to decor—as is his desire for a warm and easy-going atmosphere. Floor-to-ceiling windows bathe the space in natural light and warm materials like leather and exposed wood create an undeniably inviting aura. Friendly, flexible, and the perfect blank canvas for a creative heart, it’s no wonder Rafael has chosen to lay his roots down here.
“I actually built one of the pieces of furniture I have in my home,” Rafael says. “The circular bench near my coffee table! I took a furniture-building class in college as part of my Industrial Design minor where I actually managed to make my own piece of furniture (which, despite its large size, I managed to bring with me all the way from Atlanta).”
“The biggest challenge I had was figuring out the right flow for the space,” Rafael says. “Arranging furniture with a floor plan where your dining room, living room, and kitchen are basically the same room requires a level of creativity that took some time for me to figure out. It was essentially a matter of trial and error to find the perfect layout. I can’t even remember how many times I’ve rearranged my furniture. I think I’ve finally settled on the perfect layout but I could change my mind in a couple months (at which point, I think the problem might be with me and not the space itself).”