Businessman's 5-storey apartment is his own luxury retreat

Businessman's 5-storey apartment is his own luxury retreat

Lim Choon Hong owns Xtra, one of the largest designer furniture stores in Singapore, where hundreds of furniture pieces are displayed across 30,000 sq ft of showroom space at Park Mall and Winsland House, but home is a mere one-tenth of that size.

The founder of Xtra lives in a 3,000 sq ft, five-storey apartment in Siglap with his wife, Sara Tay, and their three children.

The space is compact but the couple says it suits the family just fine.

"The kids each have their own bedrooms and we all still have our own privacy," says Mr Lim.

Their unit is one of 12 in this cluster housing development, which gives the family the feeling of living in a landed property but with the amenities and safety features found in a condominium.

Furnishing the home was a challenge.

Not that Mr Lim has trouble deciding where to shop from.

His home is naturally filled with pieces from Xtra, which he founded in 1989.

What was more difficult was deciding on which pieces to get. "The space dictated the pieces that I could have," he says.

Among the pieces from Xtra are an L-shaped Montis sofa that can seat four, a Barovier & Toso chandelier, an Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman in the living room, with Uves dining table by Lievore Altherr Molina and six Eames Molded Plastic chairs in the dining area.

For items that he could not find from the store, Mr Lim designed and had them custom-made, such as a bookshelf that stands near the main door and the TV console.

Ms Tay left the furnishing of the home to her husband, but says that "he's a perfectionist and sometimes, things that we need around the home take a long time to have, because he is so particular about the design".

She jokes that to prod him along, she has resorted to placing "ugly alternatives in the home which Choon Hong will quickly replace because he cannot stand them".

It wasn't just the furniture that underwent careful selection.

The apartment's lone piece of artwork, Story of Life, by Thai artist Chonlasinth Chorsakil, was also scrutinised for size.

The stark walls in the rest of the apartment are perfect to accommodate more art pieces, but Mr Lim has other plans for them - to hang up family photos, but only when he does get around to it.

Ms Tay has already bought the photo frames, but three years on, the walls are still bare.

The couple enjoys going to art galleries and attending art shows, but they are not collectors. "Art is too expensive to collect and my tastes in art will change over time," says Mr Lim, who not surprisingly would rather invest in furniture.

Having a small living space has meant that the family cannot have too many things in their home.

Thankfully, they say they are not the sort to tote home tons of tacky souvenirs from their holidays abroad.

There are a few decorative items however, such as limited editions of the Juicy Salif by Philippe Starck and the Anna G and Alessandro M corkscrews from Alessi, which Xtra used to distribute.

The family have always been living in the East and despite its small floor area, they bought the unit because of the many bedrooms that it has.

There is a bedroom in the basement, which has been converted into a home office for Ms Tay, who runs her own marketing business.

The living and dining areas are on the first floor.

The previously enclosed kitchen which has been converted into an open one is here too.

On the second floor is the couple's bedroom, which comes with a walk-in wardrobe that Mr Lim designed.

An extra room was carved out of their bedroom to create another bedroom for their youngest child, Vikki, 16.

On the third floor are two more bedrooms, one for eldest daughter Nikki, 22, and the other for only son, Tim, 20.

Mr Lim assigned each child their bedrooms. "As the eldest, Nikki got the biggest bedroom, while we wanted Vikki closest to us," he says.

On the fourth floor is an entertainment room, which opens up to a roof terrace.

Here there is a small sunken pool, which, was often used when the family first moved in, but is now left empty.

Mr Lim laments that the pool is tedious to maintain, and he prefers to swim in the development's common lap pool.

The children are often on the upper floors, and sometimes their parents have to shout for them. "When they can't hear us, we ended up texting them," says Mr Lim.

While the living and dining areas have their father's touch, the personalities of the children come through in their own bedrooms.

Nikki, currently a student at London's College of Fashion, has a mannequin in her room with measuring tapes casually draped over it.

Tim is into movies and guitars, while Vikki is into drums.

She has her own set of silent drums that she plays on in the entertainment room.

Most of the designer furniture is in the living room, as Mr Lim believes in spending more in certain areas of the home.

His favourite spot is on the Eames lounge chair where he kicks back and listens to music.

He says his tastes in furnishing his home have changed over the years. "I was into the minimalist look before, but now it is all about making the home as comfortable as it can be."

taysc@sph.com.sg

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