Theirs is a love story straight out of a romantic-comedy flick. Tim and Kristine's "boy-meets-girl" romance started in 2006 when they became colleagues. Tim, who's usually reserved and moody, was instantly smitten with the super friendly and energetic Kristine (nee Aya-ay), a foreigner who's starting to build her career in Singapore at the time.
"One fine day, somebody started putting mystery chocolates on my desk. It happened on a daily basis-from tiny pieces of chocolates to medium-sized bars," Kristine recalls giddily. "Right from the third chocolate, my colleague-who was actually eating most of them-already told me it was Tim's doing."
Secret admirer Tim graduated from just chocolates and started including Post-it notes with them, which was a strategic move as it got them talking to each other. "We ended up communicating back and forth through those tiny things, which was weird because we never said anything to each other in person except 'Hi!' and 'Good morning!,'" laughs Kristine.
Tim finally mustered enough courage to ask Kristine out-or at least request his friend to ask Kristine on his behalf. Several lunches together and the two slowly discovered their shared interests: '80s pop culture and weird tastes in books ("He lent me a serial killer book.") and music ("He lent me an operatic and heavy metal fusion CD.").
"To his surprise, I kissed him after the nth lunch. He was too slow so I took the plunge," Kristine shares. "Four years later, we got married!"
In January 2014, Tim and Kristine moved to their Build-To-Order home in Bukit Panjang. "We opted for this location as is it relatively in the West side where most of the schools we find ideal are situated at," she explains.
According to Kristine, they want their home to have enough space for their hobbies and to be a place where they can welcome guests in their lovely pad. "We don't decide on making a lot of things permanent. We have accumulated sentimental items over the years, individually and as a couple. They may not be valuable to others but they mean so much to us. My job was to incorporate all these items into the house decor even if they were not necessarily meant for display."
Some of these prized possessions in their treasure trove include (hold your breath!) a mini-disc that Tim owned when he was a teenager ("We displayed that one because it's a reminder of that period in his life when he could survive and be happy with just a mini-disc to his name."); a framed GTA map that shows her husband's love affair with video games; handmade sculpted zebras from Africa; one of Tim's birthday presents to the love of his life (a Peter Rabbit lunch box); old cameras and lenses owned by the couple's dads; and hundreds of books they gave each other as gifts! As Kristine sums it, "We have so many knick knacks!"
Tim and Kristine both like houses that look old so they went for imperfect brick walls and rough surfaces matched with sleek shelves and modern accessories.
The couple prefers a big, open space so instead of splitting the house into three areas (dining, study, and living room), they blended them into one to achieve a continuous look. All three rooms in the Wongs' home share these elements: dark brown and rough textures for the furniture, the imperfect brick wall, and a surprising splash of colour in the form of a red chair, bright beautiful blooms, or quirky lighting.
Most of the furnishings and decor in this cosy home are vintage and environment friendly. Furniture pieces are either reclaimed, recycled, or upcycled.
The Wongs' dining table from Journey East and box shelves are reclaimed teak while a bench is made of recycled wood. Even the carpet is made of recycled saris in India. "We want a bistro feel for our dining area. We ended up with low lights, mismatched chairs, and a handsome table to keep our dinners cosy," she says.
"I want an almost clinical kitchen so I'll be compelled to clean it more often. The contractor suggested a steel top finish and Tim and I both fell in love with the idea. The steel top and white background makes it seem like we really mean business while we're in the kitchen," says this cheerful wife and mother. "Hopefully it translates into my cooking!"
With stressful jobs to attend to, Tim and Kristine wanted a bedroom that they can relax in after a long tiring day. To achieve this look, they went for clean lines and calming colours.
Kristine explains that in their daughter Lauren's room, they didn't want to make permanent alterations as anything in the kid's room can be replaced as she grows older and changes interests: the play tent to be upgraded to a dressing area with a vanity mirror, the toy and book shelf to be used to house and display her collections through the years, and artworks to be replaced with photo frames.
Kristine has this to say to couples out there designing and organising their own homes: "If you don't like clutter but love decor, choose selective pieces and put them all in beautiful glass jars from IKEA or Crate and Barrel so you can display them but you'll only be required to clean the outside surface of the glass. They're not as boring as glass cabinets but just as easy to clean." She also recommends a steel kitchen tops as it can easily be cleaned with a wet rag.
Their contractors also advised the couple that since this is their first house, they may find themselves changing their minds about certain things later on. Thus, Tim and Kristine opted for a simple design plan and more practical home furnishings.
"I love that in this home, our personalities are incorporated: Tim's love for video games and eating out as well as my love for books, cafes, and creating something. Things that we shared as a couple are in our house: our bistro-styled theme, our little mementos from our travels, past celebrations, and family keepsakes are lovingly incorporated," lovingly shares Kristine.