The Art House

PHOTO: The Art House

SOME people's idea of an ideal home is pretty straightforward - a breathtaking view and of course, as much floor area as possible. But German-born, Singapore permanent resident Stefanie Hauger likes walls. The more the merrier, so she can display as much art as possible.Home, for the director of homeware store Vanilla Home at Palais Renaissance, is a three-storey conservation shophouse on Everitt Road, where she lives with her eight-year-old daughter.

Almost every wall in the home displays art - in the form of paintings, sculptures or photographs. "I don't want the place to be boring, I want every wall to have something quirky on it," she says.

Ms Hauger adds there is so much more that she wishes to display, "but I'm limited by space. If I had more wall space, I would buy more art." Having run out of space in the common areas and the bedrooms, she is already eyeing the kitchen. Plans are already in the works to renovate the kitchen, pulling down some of the "too heavy" kitchen cabinets to free up more wall space.

Her mother, Irene, is an artist, so Ms Hauger grew up in a house filled with art. It's only natural now that she's grown up with her own home, that she would want the same thing. She bought the 4,200 sq ft shophouse in 2009, having lived in one other before. "I have a fondness for them. It was a no brainer to buy it as I'm investing in Singapore's heritage," says Ms Hauger, who has lived in Singapore for 18 years. She says she is drawn to colours such as orange, reds and cognac, and these shades are not only found in the art pieces, but also in her choice of furnishings. "Look around the home, and these colours keep appearing as they fit in well with each other," she says.

The wallpaper in the living and dining rooms are in shades of light brown, to complement timber flooring and a carpet in the living room. Naturally, she has filled her home with pieces from Vanilla Home, including a pair of Riviere table lamps, partially made of bamboo, and hand-blown glass sculptures by Singapore-based architect Michael Fiebrich, and brass decorative accessories by American fashion and interior designer Kelly Wearstler. Ms Hauger doesn't hesitate to add that she also shops at other places, such as Space for her dining tables and chairs and Pagoda House Gallery for her coffee table, as well as a pair of statues of monks.

Then there are the artworks, some of which are heirloom pieces done by Irene, including one that was painted specially for Ms Hauger's daughter. There are also Renaissance reproductions that Ms Hauger bought when she was living in Florence. Also on the walls are paintings done by Ms Hauger herself, which are available for sale at Vanilla Home. The newest piece of art in the home is a painting titled "He Had Nothing Saved for Retirement" by Australian artist Dale Frank from Gallery Reis, which hangs in the living room. Ms Hauger says this piece is her most precious to date, as it marks "my first foray into serious art collecting." She fell in love with the fairly huge piece, then "measured it to make sure it would fit on the wall," she says.

As with the other art pieces and decorative items around the home, Ms Hauger has a clear idea where each item will go, and "nothing is left unconsidered". Some of the paintings hang on the walls, while others lean casually against specially built niches, as if they just happened to be there. In the dining room,these niches don't just support paintings, but sculptures as well.

Upstairs on the second floor are the bedrooms, where Ms Hauger and her daughter sleep in simple surroundings. The third floor holds a library - with full height bookshelves filled with design tomes. Pull on one section and it opens up to reveal a hideaway gym. There is a roof terrace with a canopy, a favourite spot for a bit of sunbathing. "I recently spent four hours reading up here and ended up sunburnt. The canopy provides shade but unfortunately doesn't block out UV rays," she says.

The living and dining rooms on the ground floor are the most decked out, and Ms Hauger has no worry when her daughter's friends come over to play. Nothing has been broken yet, and rather than keeping expensive items away, Ms Hauger believes that "children will respect the home they live in". Ms Hauger prefers to let the art pieces speak for themselves in her home. Step inside and it feels like home, rather than entering a museum or art gallery. "Nothing here shouts for attention, and it is quietly simple," she says. She has a tip for homeowners: "I firmly believe in putting oversized things in small spaces to make them appear bigger. Just because a space is compact doesn't mean we always have to follow the rules of proportion, sometimes putting say a huge mirror or huge painting in a small space has a superb effect and actually helps to make the space feel more generous."

taysc@sph.com.sg

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