Three local interior designers take us into their homes and spill their design secrets on decorating a space that’s truly, uniquely yours BY ELIZABETH LIEW
This spacious balcony doubles up as a dining room to maximise space.
RAYMOND’S COLOURFUL & ECLECTIC CONDO
Your living space should truly reflect who you are, believes Raymond Seow, design director of Free Space Intent. So when it came to his family home in Upper Thomson Road, the spirited 46-year-old designer didn’t hold back, creating an eclectic, colour-splashed space that showcases his individuality.
The striking scheme, which Raymond terms “arranged chaos”, is a mix of different styles defined by punchy pastels and origami-inspired geometric shapes, balanced with clean and paredback Scandinavian-style furnishings so it’s not too overwhelming. “My home is a rojak of many different things that I like,” he shares. “I’ve always loved the retro, pop art colours of the ’70s and ’80s, but here I chose mainly pastels as they’re softer and more soothing.”
“But don’t use colours for the sake of it,” Raymond cautions. “Ask yourself: Are you really okay with looking at them for the long term? Find colours that you like. Trends are useful as they can help you determine what kinds of palettes you like, but you don’t have to follow them. It’s all about personal preference.”
From the various feature walls to a toy collection display shelf, every nook and cranny of Raymond’s two-and-a-half bedroom condominium, which he shares with his wife, son and in-law, is filled with character. “The most important thing for any homeowner is to decorate with something personal,” Raymond says. “For me, it’s my figurine collection, although I need to start trimming down as the shelf is overflowing!”
He also encourages homeowners to think out of the box and embrace imperfections. “Besides painting the walls, you can decorate with tiles,” he suggests. His living room alone features three types of tiles to zone different areas. Blue mosaic tiles artfully frame the TV in an almost organic-looking way, while hexagonal tiles are thoughtfully arranged in an “incomplete” fashion and round mosaic tiles, traditionally used in bathrooms and other wet areas, cover the wall near the entrance. “I like imperfection because it creates more contrast and chemistry,” says Raymond.
Retro-style blue mosaic tiles create a unique TV wall.
Unique collections and paraphernalia are surefire ways to personalise your space.
GET THE LOOK Lewis armchair, $199, from Castlery.
To make full use of the small space, Raymond shifted the dining area to the roomy balcony (the table indoors is used mainly as a prep area). This visually lengthens the entire living room and makes the home look bigger and airier. “Dining at the balcony was my wife’s idea, and we customised a dining table to fit,” he says. “It’s a more useful layout as now the balcony feels like part of the living space instead of just a place to hang clothes or store things, and it’s very refreshing to have our family meals there.”
Raymond’s home is also evidence that you do not need lots of storage solutions for an uncluttered interior. “With a small space, I tend to find myself throwing away things more often. But a bit of mess is okay! A home shouldn’t feel too clinical and cold.”
The open-concept kitchen and dining area is the central part of the home.
A custom-made pegboard wall cleverly hides the bomb shelter door and doubles as decor and storage space.
A pop of colour keeps the monochromatic scheme from looking dull.
GET THE LOOK Xavier low shelf, $579, from HipVan.
SHERLYNN’S BOLD & BEAUTIFUL BTO
An all-black interior is virtually unheard of in space-starved Singapore homes, but Sherlynn Low, founder of boutique interior design firm Millimetres Studio, doesn’t let conventions faze her. The intrepid designer, 31, lives in this five-room BTO flat with her husband, Brandon, and two dogs, and their home is a true reflection of the couple’s modern style and practical but laidback personalities.
“We simply love black and monochromatic stuff,” she says, “and just want to be ourselves.” They’ve created a cool living space that exudes warmth without being stifling, despite the dark palette. This stems from a few key design features. For one, the open-concept layout, which features many communal areas from the kitchen to dining, reading corner and TV areas, makes the interior more fluid and less confining. “The open kitchen is my favourite part of the home. We like the openness and spend most of our time here, whether it’s entertaining, working on our laptops or having a couple of drinks,” she shares.
The right lighting also plays a key role. “Avoid too warm or yellowish lighting,” advises Sherlynn, who uses warm-white lights throughout her home. “Use dimmable bulbs that let you adjust how much light you need, as too bright bulbs can be very glaring especially in an already dark environment.”
To enhance the sense of space, Sherlynn also makes sure to accessorise with lots of mirrors, such as the three round ones hanging behind her dining table, as well as incorporating different textures into her home for added dimension. “For instance, we used shiny black tiles for the wall next to the fridge, so the entire home doesn’t have just one flat, matte finish,” she says.
One standout feature is the floor-toceiling pegboard wall at the entrance, a multifunctional piece that gives her home character and personality, while being practical. “The main function is to conceal the bomb shelter,” Sherlynn shares, “and we wanted something customisable because it’s like a welcome wall and we can decorate it to suit various occasions like Christmas.”
“Instead of round holes, our pegboard has rectangular slits that are sturdier and can hold heavier items like shelves, planters, even our dogs’ water bowls that are at the bottom but away from the ground which makes cleaning easier.”
For more visual impact, Sherlynn recommends keeping to three colours. “Currently it’s a lot of greenery and brass, which is quite a strong look against a black background. Plants also breathe life into a space!”
Contemporary style furnishings add instant luxe.
A full-length mirror behind the sliding door is both practical and spaceenhancing.
Long stretches of cabinets optimise space and are more worth the cost, Kobe says.
GET THE LOOK Jing side table, $489, from Scene Shang.
KOBE’S HOTELCHIC ABODE
For interior designer Kobe Wong and his wife, their beautiful five-room HDB takes inspiration from luxury hotels and chic bachelor pads. “We didn’t want an all-white space; we wanted a darker, more masculine colour palette with a modern luxury feel,” says the 31-year-old founder and principal designer of KDOT Associates.
To achieve this, he carefully curated a monochromatic palette accented with natural materials and textures such as marble tiles and wood laminates to give the home a cohesive look, overall. “The bedroom should have calmer and more neutral colours, so we chose wood laminates in a darker wood tone to create a cosier ambience,” Kobe says. “We matched our wallpaper colour to the laminates and chose one with a fabric finish that has a warmer, softer effect. Wallpaper is great as it helps cover the nitty-gritty flaws and bumps in the walls that we didn’t notice under daylight, but were very obvious when we switched on our lights at night.”
Kobe says it’s important to understand your lifestyle needs and preferences and be willing to make big changes to your home design. For instance, to realise his and his wife’s dream of a walk-in wardrobe and study space, Kobe hacked down a wall to combine two bedrooms, separating them with a soft-closing sliding door that separates and unites the rooms more seamlessly and quietly. “This way, I can work late nights and be close to my family while they sleep,” says the selfconfessed workaholic.
To save on the renovation, Kobe reveals that some of his furnishings were actually bought from online retailer Taobao, such as the bedside pendant lamp with frosted glass that emits a more soothing light, as well as the brass table with a custom-made marble top.
His tips for buying online furniture? “Always read reviews and comments, and always check what kind of materials are used for the product. If something is too cheap, it’s usually a warning sign that something is wrong.”
PHOTOS: RAYMOND SEOW, VERNON WONG FOR HOME & DECOR SINGAPORE AND KOBE WONG