An elegant ease

An elegant ease

In this simple, streamlined white space, it’s the many treasured items from friends and family that enrich the interiors with meaning.
Who: Architectural and design consultant Laura Phay Home: A four-room HDB flat at The Pinnacle@Duxton  Size: 1,000sqf

For Laura Phay, the most important elements of her home are the gifts from friends, items she holds very dear to her heart. “Regardless of trends, these things will never lose their meaning,” she explains. Against a clean palette, she allowed these knick-knacks, as well as a charming mix  of furniture designs, to take precedence.


As the founder of design consultancy She Designs He Builds, which is behind the simple yet chic interiors of trendy cafes such as The Plain and Ronin, Laura is known for her simple yet refined interior touches. And her home is treated with the same grace.  

What was the basis for the interiors of your home?

When my husband and I returned from Melbourne in 2010, we didn’t have much to spend on the home. As we were setting up The Plain cafe, we kept a lot of the apartment – including the floor tiles, parquet and bathroom – as it was, to save money. I just wanted to keep the place simple and light, and do without visually heavy built-in cabinets.  

Aren’t you afraid that there might not be enough storage space in the future?

I don’t have the habit of accumulating things. I think that it’s the result of living overseas and renting apartments. We also have a spare bedroom where most of our clothes and clutter are stored. The kitchen has plenty of storage space. I’ve installed big, deep drawers rather than cabinets there, so everything is in plain sight. 

What other features of this home are you particularly proud of?

There was a recess in the living room wall, which I levelled out and inserted a metal shelf that’s made with 3mm-thick stainless steel. Displayed on it are all my favourite things.

Most of them are little gifts from friends, such as a fertility goddess from my husband’s army friend who’s a brilliant sculptor. I think that items like these are so precious, because it shows the thought that people have put into gifting it. And I like surrounding myself with symbols that are dear to me.   

What other changes were made during the renovation?

I wanted the kitchen to look connected with the rest of the home, so I opened it up and got the contractor to replace its original tiles to match the ones in the common area.

I cook very often in this open kitchen, but as long as I don’t do heavy cooking or fry garlic, the smell doesn’t linger in the house. I also replaced part of the study room’s walls with full-height glass panels – I’m so glad they managed to fit them in the lift!  

The oversized lamps are also an unusual choice for a small home… 

Even though the ceilings are not high, using oversized pendant lights can actually make the place feel a lot loftier. I tend to like big gestures that make a difference.  

Do you have furniture pieces that have a sentimental value?

The armchair, as well as the boomerang coffee table, are vintage designs from the 1940s that were passed down from my grand uncle. We restored them by laying on a new laminate for the table and reupholstering the chair. I also like buying designs that last, such as the Dish Doctor designed by Marc Newson, which I’ve had since 2002 and still works well.

Where to go

She Designs He Builds,
www.shedesigns-hebuilds.tumblr.com   To read the rest of this article, get a copy of the March 2015 issue of Home & Décor.


Home & Décor, published by SPH Magazines, is available in print and digital editions. Log on to www.homeanddecor.com.sg/magazine to subscribe now!

Check out more stories at Home & Decor online, www.homeanddecor.com.sg.

Also, check out the March 2015 issue for these stories:

Singapore’s Best Designed Spaces
Hit our design trail for a list of places where the Home & Décor team, as well as Singapore’s design honchos, find inspiration.

Get Your Hands Dirty
Sign yourself up for workshops to pick up a life skill or participate in a fun activity during the weekends! Here are our top picks to get you started.

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