Bold over by hue

PHOTO: Bold over by hue

It is goodbye beige and hello red as Singaporeans deck their walls at home in bold, unusual colours.

Finding a blank wall in Daniel Seah and Chee Yen Ting's four-room HDB flat is a challenge.

The young couple, aged 33 and 30, had every main room in their build-to-order Punggol home painted in a different colour before they moved in last December.

Mr Seah, an assistant manager at a local stockbroking firm, explains: "I've always felt that dark colours provide a better connection than lighter ones. They make the house seem warm and cosy as opposed to giving off an airy feel."

Mr Seah and Ms Chee are part of a steadily growing number of Singaporeans who are painting their interior home walls in more unusual colours rather than the usual safe beige.

Major paint manufacturers Nippon, Dulux and SKK, as well as most of the interior design companies Life! spoke to, say Singaporeans are now more "adventurous" and "daring" in their colour choices compared with a decade ago.

Many believe that this stems from higher levels of education and an increased exposure to bold design ideas.

Interior design company Arete Culture owner Caroline Chin Geyler says: "People are more interior-savvy nowadays, especially the younger generation. I think it has a lot to do with travelling."

Still, the vast majority of locals prefer to go for safer neutral tones such as beige, cream and pastel.

A 38-year-old designer at three-d conceptwerke, who declined to be named, says: "It's quite contradictory. Most Singaporeans like to see colourful walls in other people's homes but are not open to trying out those colours themselves."

Only 8 to 10 per cent of SKK's customers paint their home walls in unusual colours.

Most interior design companies report an average of 10 to 20 per cent of clients with at least one wall in a less conventional colour. But this figure climbs to 60 and 70 per cent in companies such as Arete Culture and Fuse Concept which are known for their more daring design styles.

Most of these adventuresome clients range from their late 20s to early 40s.

It often takes coaxing before clients can be persuaded to paint their walls in bolder colours. Ms Lisa Ng, 35, design director at Ansana, believes coloured walls "instantaneously give the space a strong character". She tells her clients that they sometimes have to "break out of their comfort zone".

Ms Geyler, who is in her 30s, adds: "I tell them, if you don't like it, we can always paint over it."

No coaxing of the sort was needed with Mr Seah and Ms Chee.

Mr Seah says: "When we first started, we wanted everything to be warm. We began with red for the living room and found other colours to match that."

The couple's bedroom-cum-study area - originally two rooms before the wall in between was removed - is a happy compromise for Mr Seah and Ms Chee, a senior manager in a statutory board, as he likes purple and she, aquamarine.

While help was enlisted from interior design company Artrend to renovate and paint the home, all their ideas came from the couple. They painted their balcony themselves and also spent an entire weekend sponging kitchen walls with a rosy-peach colour mixed from white, burnt sienna and acrylic gold paint.

The couple obtained most of their inspiration from books on wall-painting and Home And Decor magazines. The Nippon Colour My World 2012 book was consulted as well.

Their kitchen contains kitchenware, hand towels and slippers in various shades of yellow and orange, bought to complement the walls that were originally intended to be painted yellow.

In another newly renovated flat in Punggol - this time belonging to couple Pamela Ng, 30, and production coordinator Winston Ng, 32 - four walls have just been given purple, blue and light and medium green hues. The remaining walls in the five-room flat are a creamy white.

According to Mrs Ng, an associate director of a consulting agency, she and her husband "wanted each room to have a different identity". She believes the "happy colours" chosen will be a refreshing change from the "dreary walls and computer screens" at work.

The couple will move into their new flat at the end of the month. They think it is best that they stick with neutral-toned furniture, "or else everything will be fighting for attention".

Paint manufacturers Nippon and Dulux both come up with new colour palettes every year.

Mr David Tay, 62, who was part of the advisory team for Nippon's Colour Essence 2012, a book on this year's Asian-inspired palettes and anticipated colour trends, hopes it will convey the message of how Asians can and should take the lead in setting colour trends.

The principal of interior design company ETHOSpace, who suffered a medical scare two years ago when he noticed a spot in his eye, also hopes it will "raise awareness of how fortunate we are to enjoy colours and sight".

According to Nippon Paint spokesman Karenmary Ng, the new Earth, Wind, Water, Space and Fire colour palettes, which were launched several weeks ago, have garnered "positive feedback" from the public so far. The new colours, ranging from Deep Henna to Blue Manor, are mixed and dispensed on request and are slightly more expensive than usual.

Colours aside, paint companies and interior designers alike have noticed a growing interest towards environmental and health-friendly paint types.

All-in-one paints that provide good washability, low odour, fungal resistance and which minimise the levels of volatile organic content - potentially harmful chemicals which are emitted from paint - are becoming increasingly popular.

Mr Benjeemen Heng, owner of interior design firm Benjeemen Heng I.D., who is in his 30s, says this is partly because "both husband and wife usually have to work nowadays, thus they prefer something that needs lower maintenance".

tohwenli@sph.com.sg