In the search for the ideal home, some might move across the country, while others might take a step further and move to another continent. But not this couple, an ophthalmologist and her travel writer husband, who have been living in Tiong Bahru since 2008.
Attracted by the estate’s Art Deco architectural features, the juxtaposition of the old and the new, and the confluence of East and West, the couple lived within the estate despite moving into three different flats over the years.
However, when it came to a point in their lives to decide where they settle down for future retirement, they picked a larger living space.
Their latest, and what they say will be their final home, is a two-bedroom, 1,200 sq ft flat, given an eclectic look by Paul Yeo and Ivan Soh of PI Architects.
Yeo shares that this apartment wasn’t the first that the couple viewed during their latest house hunt, but “what made this apartment stand out from the others, is that it is a ground floor unit with a rear courtyard and the interior layout has been untouched since the 1960s”.
Through their conversations with their clients, PI Architects learnt that the couple have amassed many vintage items which they wanted to showcase, and they also wanted the vibrant colours of Peranakan aesthetics to blend with the heritage of Tiong Bahru.
“The clients wanted the home to be a celebration of their journey together as a couple in different cities around the world, via vibrant colours and patterns expressed throughout the apartment,” says Yeo.
TRANSPORTED BACK IN TIME
Soh still remembers the first time they saw the apartment. “It felt like we were transported back in time. Everything in the apartment, such as the photo frames, furniture pieces, floor and wall tiles, was representative of the 1960s.”
He adds that the apartment needed a full freshening treatment, and so they started with the main door, giving it a new coat of paint in royal blue.
This same colour is also seen on the wall cladding in the living room, providing a contrast to the exposed original brickwork and the floral patterned floor. In the master bedroom, the walk-in wardrobe is also given the same royal blue treatment.
“We explored various colour palettes but agreed that the blue within the living room and their bedroom could depict a sense of depth, richness and royalty in the contemporary context,” says Yeo.
Other key features in the living room are the Great Gatsby-inspired wallpaper that references the Art Deco buildings of the area, and a gold-framed full-height mirror tucked away in the corner.
The mirror gives an illusion of space but is also a sliding door that leads to the rest of the apartment. The back of this door is also mirrored, reflecting the long corridor that connects the living room to the rear of the apartment. The mirror makes the corridor appear wider, and also helps reflect natural daylight, brightening up the space.
There are two bedrooms along the corridor, the first of which is the study, where the husband has his collection of antiques, memorabilia, literature and vinyl records.
The other room is the couple’s bedroom, where the royal blue wardrobe is. “The missus says this is her favourite feature in the home, as it is one that is designed for an energetic and exuberant individual like herself,” says Yeo.
A few steps further down the corridor is the rear of the apartment, with a second living room that’s adjacent to the kitchen and dining room. Glass sliding doors allow natural light to spill in from the rear courtyard into the kitchen. A specially constructed Turkish fountain in the courtyard allows the couple to rear small fish.
The charm of the apartment also comes from a mix of old and new features. For example, the existing green and white mosaic floor tiles in the study room were kept since the husband appreciates things in their original condition.
The rest of the flooring and wall finishes in the apartment were given an update, as the couple wanted to open a new chapter in their lives with a new living space.
The architects also stripped away the surface plaster layers to reveal the original red brick works to depict the passage of time through the aged material. Other little items, such as the old metal window grilles were repurposed as planters.
“Apart from an eclectic aesthetic, the home is a treasure trove filled with many details for great conversations with family and friends,” says Soh.