This couple realised their vision of a modern Victorian home that is cosy and unique, and which incorporates smart home features. Lynn Tan finds out how.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

The Timothy Oulton coffee table complements the rustic look of the Chesterfield sofa. Sheryl’s father added a rubber strip around the edge to make it childproof.

The dining table sits up to eight persons when extended into an oval shape.
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An avid traveller who works in the travel industry, Seann Chua, has come across numerous examples of beautiful European homes with Victorian interiors during his overseas trips. “I find the wainscoting, wall beadings and cornices rather enchanting and wanted to emulate these in our home,” he shares. However, his wife, Sheryl Kang, had some initial reservations because she did not want their apartment looking like some old-fashioned Victorian abode. “I did some research and realised that we could go for a modern Victorian style, which is more subtle and classy,” she says.

The couple shortlisted and interviewed a few interior designers who had expertise in designing homes with wainscoting, and decided on interior design consultant James Kong from Carpenters Design Group for his “attention to detail, openmindedness and can-do attitude”. It proved to be the right choice as there were some issues along the way- delays in the shipment of bathroom fittings, broken lights and incorrect electrical wiring, all of which were attended to promptly by James and eventually resolved satisfactorily.

It also helped that Seann and Sheryl were very hands-on and worked very closely with James throughout the entire process. They sourced most of the furniture and fittings themselves despite having no prior experience. “We knew exactly what style and colour we were looking for in order to complement the modern Victorian theme, so we were very focused in our search and zeroed in on the suppliers who carried the products that we wanted.”

Having established a modern Victorian theme with a black-and-white colour palette for the main living and dining spaces, they went about sourcing for elements that fit into the scheme, starting with the wainscoting on white walls that are as much of a backdrop as they are the star. They went for a slimmer profile in keeping with a more modern look. Instead of wood, the wainscoting is made from a special type of European foam that can achieve a more seamless joint against the wall surface to minimise unsightly gaps. “We had seen some shoddy examples where wooden wainscoting left blunt edges and crevices along the walls and this was a definite no-no,” Seann points out. Sheryl adds: “The wainscoting alone cost us$10,000 (around s$14,200), but the results are beautiful.” The living room may be sparsely furnished, but the lone Chesterfield sofa makes a bold statement with its hand-distressed Vagabond black leather. This piece is Seann and Sheryl’s favourite, reinvented for the 21st Century by Timothy Oulton, but with the same classical proportions.

The marble flooring in the living and dining areas was retained, but as the homeowners wanted a seamless transition into the dry kitchen, they tracked down the company who supplied the original marble for the development 14 years ago and managed to procure the same marble to be used in the dry kitchen. Apart from the existing floor tiles, the old kitchen cabinets were also stripped away. The new ones are clad in simple white laminate and adorned with gold handles and knobs in keeping with the modern Victorian language.

The built-in refrigerator and wine chiller was a bit of a technical challenge. Seann had his heart set on the Liebherr models and James had to ensure that the dimensions of the surrounding built-in cabinets and kitchen counter could accommodate them. “We also had to make allowance for the pipes at the back, so it was essential that all the parties involved, including the plumber, electrician and carpenter coordinated closely with one another,” James emphasised.

The existing bar counter between the dining area and kitchen was replaced with full-height cabinets for additional storage. Seann’s suitcases are stowed away in the lower cabinets and the shelves facing the dining area are where they proudly display photos of their journey from a nelwy married couple to proud parents of four-year-old Summer and two-year-old Scott.

The master bedroom also underwent quite a transformation. The cabinets stacked above the bay window were removed. The bay window was reinstated with the addition of a timber top that also serves as a display ledge. The existing bathtub were removed and the wall between the bathtub and the master bedroom was reconfigured to create a small walk-in wardrobe for Seann.

Seann and Sheryl wanted to have a smart home that leverages on technology to seamlessly operate the lights, blinds, television and other household appliances, James was able to design for it and integrate the various requirements into the home.

Seann and Sheryl agree wholeheartedly, “Our home reflects our modern lifestyle, our aesthetics and smart home preferences. Most importantly, it is cosy and comfortable.” 
My Reading Room
The gold fittings extend to the kitchen cabinet hardware.
My Reading Room


A couple in their 30’s and their two children HOME A three-bedroom condominium at Paterson Road SIZE 1,459 sq ft
My Reading Room

The couple loves art and their apartment is filled with art pieces, some of which are self-drawn. This piece in the living room behind them portrays a ballerina waiting to dance and it is by a street artist in Munic.


The wainscoting adds visual interest to white walls and they are as much of a backdrop as they are the star.

The wainscoting also frames the artworks on the walls.
My Reading Room
My Reading Room



Gold bathroom fittings reinforce the Victorian theme and go well with the white colour palette.


The distressed headboard in the master bedroom was selected to match the Chesterfield sofa.