Less is more in this Scandinavian-cool bachelor's pad

PHOTO: Home and Decor

Who: A bachelor in his 40s
Home: 3-bedroom HDB flat in Marine Terrace
Size: 818sqf

Four years ago, Koh Kuan Eng left his stable job as a creative director of an advertising firm to be a social worker. The 49-year-old bachelor was in the creative industry for two decades before he made the big switch.

"I am four to five times poorer, but 10 times happier," he smiles.

Inspired to do something "more meaningful in life", Kuan Eng also went on to write and illustrate My First Set of Dialect Books, in a bid to preserve our linguistic heritage.

Given his recent conviction, it was no surprise then that he wanted a "pared down" look for his new home - one that is cosy, intimate and devoid of distractions like a TV.

It's the first home he has owned, and he sees it as a permanent abode.

So he poured in some $33,000 for the renovations and $40,000 for the furnishings to create a modish yet personable space.

Personal touch

  • 49-year-old bachelor Koh Kuan Eng wanted a "pared down" look for his new home - one that is cosy, intimate and devoid of distractions.
  • He loves retro but wanted to keep things in the home clean-lined as well, so he went for Scandinavian furniture like the chairs you see in my living room and dining areas.
  • The flooring is an expanse of cement – a raw look that evokes a sense of nostalgia for the homeowner.
  • Potted plants and flowers are an integral part of the homeowner’s decorative style. They are strategically placed in corners and on tables to “freshen up” the space and complement the wood accents and raw cement.
  • The artwork on the walls were pieces that he picked up from my travels, online and also from friends.
  • The homeowner’s precious collection of sketchbooks detailing his travel experiences.
  • Shelves are decked with whimsical collectibles from travels, and the walls are decorated with framed nostalgic or kooky images bought online.
  • The original dining space has been turned into a designated study area comprising a simple yet modern round table and chairs. Behind the row of white panels lies ample storage space.
  • The kitchen is kept basic and functional, as the homeowner hardly cooks at home.
  • The homeowner deliberately kept the bathroom and toilet divided into two separate spaces – another nostalgic feature carried over from his grandmother’s home.
  • Strictly a space for rest and sleep, the bedroom is kept minimalist with just a bed, table and lamp at the side.

You have a creative eye, as evident from your taste in furniture and wall art. Why did you still get an interior designer?

I got an interior designer to advise me on the flooring, laminates and the best ways to conceal wires and piping. I also needed expert advice when it came to hacking the walls.

The interior designer's job was to remove what was redundant or unnecessary so that I could have a "blank canvas" for the furnishings.

My design background has helped me to understand colours, textures and lines, and choose furniture and art pieces that sit right in the context of the room.

What's your style?

I go for things that resonate with me. I love retro but want to keep things in my home clean-lined as well, so I went for Scandinavian furniture like the chairs you see in my living room and dining areas.

They are actually handcrafted 50s Danish furniture.

Your three-room flat feels spacious and airy. How did you organise the space?

I had one of the bedrooms removed and its walls knocked down to open up the space. It is now a dining area where I entertain friends.

The original wardrobe now stands as a storage space.

How did you choose the artworks for your wall?

Again, I just go for things that resonate with me - pieces that I pick up from my travels, online and also from friends.

The framed pictures of the leaves are photography works by an ex-colleague, Francis Ooi.

They are part of his What I See When I Run series, which is a collection of photographs and illustrations of different specimens of leaves he took at nature reserves in Singapore.

Why cement for the flooring?

It evokes a sense of nostalgia for me. It reminds me of my childhood days whiling away at my grandmother's home.

Cement feels cool under the feet and is also a breeze to manage and clean.

I also like how its "raw" and "bare" look provides me with a blank canvas to work with.

I littered the place with lush potted plants and flowers, for example - the green shades complement the cement and wooden accents of the interior very nicely.

What does a home mean to you?

It's a sanctuary.

I did away with the TV as it's too much of a distraction. In my bedroom, besides my bed, a bedside table and a lamp are the other things I have.

I've deliberately kept it that way as I believe it is a space where the body rests after a hard day's work and, hence, should be kept clutter-free.

WHERE TO GO: Studio JP, www.studiojp.sg, Tel: 6635-7810

BONUS! Furniture retailer HipVan is giving AsiaOne readers 15% off all purchases on their website. Simply enter promo code: HVASIAONE15 at the checkout.

           
           

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AsiaOne is looking to feature our readers' renovations and beautiful homes. If you have a HDB or condo flat that you would like to be featured, send along photographs of the home, along with your name and contact number, to a1photo@sph.com.sg, with the email subject: "Home Works", and we will be in touch.

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