Amber Folkman: The Creative Momma

Amber Folkman runs a home full of love, laughter, and DIY projects, "as long as they don't look obviously DIY." Find out how she infuses the Filipino culture into her beautiful home. By Cecile Baltasar

Amber Folkman is the momma behind the blog A Momma Abroad. She runs a home that’s one part American (because of where she and her husband come from), one part Filipino (because of where she and her family are now), and one part Do-It-Yourself projects (because what’s not to like about DIY?).

“I really love creating — and have loved it since I was a kid — so DIY has always been something that excites me,” Amber says. “I used to sew a lot and have always enjoyed decorating.”

Manila: the DIY momma’s playground

For a decade now, Amber, her husband, and their three young sons have been living in Manila. Their home is filled with natural light, colorful souvenirs from their travels in and outside the Philippines, and, of course, Amber’s DIY projects.

One project she’s particularly proud of is their decorated entryway, which Amber jazzed up four years ago. It has oversize prints of her three boys — she went to Copylandia and printed the close-up photos on architecture prints. The cost of the entire project? About PHP 130.

 

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Other projects Amber is especially fond of were made with a vinyl cutting machine that Amber bought second-hand some years ago. With it, she made wall accent pieces. “I even made Filipino number labels for our staircase so we could learn to count as we walked up the stairs each time,” says Amber, who consistently declares her love for all things Pinas on social media.

 

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“Being a creator, my home became my canvas,” she says. To her delight, she discovered that she was living in a city that is perfect for resourceful crafters such as herself who love indigenous materials and, especially, locally-made baskets.

Throughout her popular blog, as well as on Instagram, Amber writes about the experiences she and her family have traipsing around Manila and nearby provinces. She makes no secret of it: her tropical home is fun. However, it’s the affordable DIY possibilities in Manila that seals the deal for her.

“Manila became my playground,” says Amber, who started an interior design program at Philippine School of Interior Design last year. “I am American so naturally I love [giant retail store] Target; but Target has got nothing on Manila. We have outdoor markets, exporters, global brands and so much more right here! I love a sulit deal…so a good bargain is my jam. I love the concept of finding a cheaper and eco-friendly alternative.”

The Pinoy home

Amber and her husband refer to their sons as their #3PinoyBoys, since life in the Philippines is all they know. Their home perfectly reflects their family’s adopted culture.

 

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“My peacock chairs and the copious amounts of Inabel [handwoven] blankets…are a nice reminder of our new home,” says Amber. “When I see them, I feel a sense of security and fondness, exactly what home represents.”

Then there’s the plus-sized wooden spoon and fork hanging in their home — ubiquitous design items in old-school Filipino dining rooms. “I didn’t even know this was a common Pinoy accent piece until people on Instagram started telling me,” says Amber. The grotto by their front entryway is also a unique Filipino home detail.

It’s a home custom, though, that emphasizes this American family’s Filipinization: the no-shoes-in-the-house rule. “My Pinoy Boys are all over that when guests come over. They even stick to it when we travel to the States to visit family,” Amber says.

DIY-ing children

“My children very much enjoy creating and tinkering,” says Amber. “Recently, my boys were super into paper planes. We were paper airplane-ing with anything, anywhere. I am the best mom I can be when I am creating with my kids or outdoors exploring.”

 

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Armed with years of experience, Amber shares a few tips on how to encourage, display, and discard art created by your kids:

  • “Follow the lead of your child. Let them be the teacher and you be the student. Adolescent minds are actually at the peak of creativity so to learn from a child is quite remarkable.”
  • “Let your child feel honored, just like any adult in the house.” Treat with respect whatever your child creates. Never condescend.
  • Put up a gallery wall for the art. Amber says, “I have a few pieces framed; some are pinned on a cork board. For endless drawings, I tape them all up behind the bedroom door.”
  • Purge when you feel the need to do so. “A valuable lesson our family has learned is that more beautiful art will either come along or be created,” says Amber. “I don’t keep all the artworks; sometimes we decide together what can be thrown out.”

Avida Land properties are thoughtfully designed to provide the perfect backdrop for DIY projects and children’s artworks. Visit any Avida showroom today to find the property for your needs.

Photos courtesy of Amber Folkman.