A cohesive colour palette helps tie the look of various styles throughout the home together. DOMENICA TAN finds out how these homeowners designed and styled the interiors of their new abode.
Justin and Monica wanted an open-plan kitchen to keep the apartment looking spacious.
Who lives here
A couple in their 20s
Home Five-room HDB BTO in Ang Mo Kio
Size 1,195 sq ft
Different textures — from subway tiles laid in a vertical fashion to the terrazzo countertop and concrete-look laminate on the cabinetry — make the kitchen unique.
With a budget of just $28,000 for renovation and $25,000 for furniture, appliances and decor accessories, homeowners Justin Koh and Monica Anne Lie designed their five-room apartment to exude a warm, cosy look, complete with lots of white and wood tones. Justin works in the sales industry, while Monica, who works mostly out of her home office, is the owner of demi-fine jewellery brand The Ordinary Co., and often shares behind-the-scenes images through her Instagram page (@luxmondi).
Instead of relying on extensive built-ins for storage, the couple chose to mostly furnish the place with loose furniture, so they’d have the flexibility of styling and refreshing it as and when they liked.
We speak to Monica about the renovation and styling journey of the hom she shares with her husband.
Instead of splurging on new furniture, thy bought many second-hand pieces off Carousell, including the Ethnicraft dining table, and white sofa filled with goose down.
HOW DID YOU CONCEPTUALISE YOUR HOME’S DESIGN?
My husband had no preference but helped a lot with the renovation costing and specifications. I was very inspired by the Instagram images of cream-toned homes that are popular in Korea. I also like European design elements often found in magazines like Kinfolk and Cereal. The hardest part was locking in a specific look as I love all kinds of interior design styles — including the Japanese zen-inspired and Balinese resort look.
I think it is possible to meld many concepts and have a cohesive outcome. Once we selected colours like cream, white and grey, it was very easy to pull the look together.
Left Skipping a cabinet for footwear, the kitchen peninsula was specially designed with under-counter shelves for the couple’s shoes.
Right Monica sources many of her decor accessories, like ceramic vases, during her travels or from Taobao. She has been collecting such items since she was 21.
YOUR APARTMENT IS MOSTLY WHITE. HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN THAT?
I think having just two adults – no children or pets – definitely helps maintain the whiteness! We bought a second-hand white sofa for just $350 and did some dry cleaning and refurbishing, so we won’t feel the pain of stains here and there.
As for the walls, we walk around the apartment with a cup of paint every few months to touch up small dirt streaks. It seems minor but it really helps refresh the look.
Given a fresh new coat of varnish, this 1950s vintage cupboard is now Justin’s wardrobe.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR SPACE-PLANNING AND STORAGE STRATEGIES?
Our philosophy was to avoid having too many carpentry and built-in elements. This saved on renovation costs and lets us to move things around, add more storage or change the entire purpose of a room. Only the kitchen and toilets are completely built-in.
We’re particularly proud of our vintage 1950s wardrobe in the master bedroom that we bought from a lady who lives in Tiong Bahru. It belonged to her family for years and fits all my husband’s clothes now. We also put our bed frame against the window instead of the wall to create more visual space.
Marbleish quartz surface adds a touch of luxury to the bathroom.
WHILE CONCEPTUALISING YOUR HOME OFFICE, WHAT WERE KEY CONSIDERATIONS?
Lots of storage options. Not necessarily built-in shelves but items such as baskets, boxes and dividers within the cupboards to help keep everything tidy.
WHICH PART OF THE HOME DO YOU LOVE THE MOST?
Our living and kitchen areas. I drew the design for the kitchen cupboards and selected the wood- and concrete-look laminates, as I like the aesthetic of more colour tones and textures. My husband sourced the terrazzo countertops and our carpenter helped make everything come together with little fuss!
Monica spends a lot of time working in the home office, where she showcases some of her favourite knick-knacks.
Plus, I’ve always wanted an island and the one we have now is freestanding, which looks great and is more cost-efficient than fabricating a built-in one. It also creates additional storage in the kitchen. I also love our sliding glass cupboard where we keep dishes we have amassed from our travels. Our friends often ask if we actually use the dishes because they look so pretty.
The living room is where we spend lots of time lazing about, relaxing and watching our favourite shows. Thanks to our comfy goose down sofa, we often snooze there, too.
Photography VERONICA TAY
Art direction KRISTY QUAH