DIY DESIGNER

ELIZA HAMIZAH finds out more about this apartment with an Oriental - European style, which was designed by the homeowner himself.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel
A black-and white flooring and pendant lamps give the kitchen a Parisian atmosphere. Desmond kept the kitchen cabinets but changed the rather damaged countertop to a quartz top.
 
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WHO LIVES HERE

A couple and their two daughters in their 20s HOME Three-bedroom condominium apartment in Loyang SIZE 1,873sqf
 
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“My wife has a large handbag collection and her wardrobe is too full, so I chose those with tapestry and vibrant prints (that match our theme) for display,” says Desmond.

OPPOSITE

A lot of Desmond’s furniture was bought online. The Chesterfield sofa was shipped from the United States and set him back $6,000, while the rug is from Amazon and cost $600. He often shops on online site Taobao, too.

OPPOSITE, BOTTOM

Ever the salvager, Desmond can turn anything into a display piece. This school project, done by one of his daughters, is placed on a makeshift pedestal.
 
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”I SPEND SO MUCH TIME ON DIY-ING, MY WIFE JOKES THAT THE TIME IS BETTER SPENT ON HOUSEWORK INSTEAD!” SAYS DESMOND, WITH A LAUGH.
 
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Desmond Leong is a jack of all trades. He not only runs Thelonius Interior Concept & Design, but is also the main contractor for other design firms. At home, he is the handyman of the house, upcycling bits of furniture in his spare time.

For his home renovation, Desmond naturally retained elements that were in fairly good condition – such as the television console and kitchen cabinets – so he could modify them. To give the home a more European look, he added brass-finished handles to the kitchen cabinets, and installed herringbone floors in the bedrooms. The balcony features diamond shaped tiles, as well as powdercoated steel folding doors.

There is an oriental touch to the space, too. To bridge the two themes, he relied on colour. Black and white tiles “give a colonial and French look”, while teal – a hue often used on antique, Eastern-style furniture – was his primary choice of colour. He paired this with both antique and modern furniture to stay true to the overall aesthetic, while keeping the space vibrant.

We find out more about this $130,000 transformation ( for renovation and furniture).

However, after I paired it with brass handles and designed the wardrobe, she is impressed with the outcome. And with upcycled or antique furniture, it is all about finding the right spots and proportion. I usually try with affordable items; if something doesn’t work out, at least it can be changed without denting your wallet.
 
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Desmond’s entertainment room has two sound systems: one for movies, another for music. The audiophile sheepishly confesses that he cannot keep track of his CDs, and has many versions and copies of the same album.
 
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Q WHAT INSPIRED THE DESIGN OF YOUR HOME?

We've lived in many different homes with different styles. , but our recent  trips to London and Paris, where my daughters studied design and fashion respectively, inspired a European twist in our home design  Fench in particular. We like the oriental look, too, and we've included a number of pieces from our previous homes.

Q WE SEE THAT YOU ARE QUITE HANDS-ON WITH ACCESSORISING. WHY?

Somtimes, I feel the furniture we have is either too contemporary or plain, I'd order brass decor tacks and corner caps to enhance them. I would also buy earrings and tassels from Chinatown to hang at interesting places such at on the chandelier, lamp holders and wardrobe handles; this creates an oriental look. Recently, I painted black borders around the paintings we have on the walls. These frame them better.

Q YOU ACOUSTICALLY TREATED THE ENTERTAINMENT ROOM BY YOURSELF. TELL US ABOUT THAT.

I am an audiophile and a CD collector, and my interests span music like  rock and jazz to Blu-ray movies. As it is almost impossible to soundproof a room in a house - unless you have money and space to spare - I have acoustically treated this room as beat as a two - inch timber panel. I've tested it; you can't  hear anything on the first floor and there have been no complaints so far. I have also used styrofoam cubes to create an uneven surface on the ceiling. This is so you don't get much of a sound reflection that will distort the music.

Q WHAT TIPS DO YOU HAVE FOR HOMEOWNERS WHO WANT TO DESIGN A HOME ON THEIR OWN?

An element may not look outstanding on its own, so you have to mix and match well. For instance, my wife initially did not like the teal laminate for the master bedroom console.
 
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ABOVE

Teal-coloured laminates and brass handles from Taobao clad the oriental style wardrobe and television console in the master bedroom.

OPPOSITE
The master bathroom was previously dark and cramped. Desmond transformed it into a chic and airy space by removing the bathtub and opting for black and white tiles.
 

photography VERONICA TAY art direction KAFFY TAN