Well-travelled homeowners Ronald Wan and Rachel Ong were inspired by the many stylish Airbnb apartments they stayed in during their trips to Paris, London, New York and Bangkok. These homes were chic, simple and inviting — something the married couple believe can be achieved in their own home by using the timeless colour palette of black and white.
Rachel's work as a stylist in the fashion industry, as well as Ronald's love for pop culture, influenced the four-room flat's interiors. The result is a tasteful space designed with restraint, yet packed with detail. This includes selecting a cushy suede chesterfield and pairing it with a minimalist coffee table, as well as opting for a projector instead of a televsion to re-create an old-school cinematic experience.
"To keep to our budget, Ronald and I planned our own moodboard, while Gay Zhengcai from The Merry Men Interiors helped realised it," says Rachel. We find out what went into the $46,000 renovation.
The couple each has a shelf to express their personal interests. Ronald - who used to be an entertainment writer - has a black bookshelf filled with film and travel memorabilia.
"I styled this shelf to be both aesthetically pleasing as well as an alternative dressing table. I don't have one in the bedroom, so I display my perfume, candles and nail polish here. Bags make good displays, and I can just grab my favourite accessories before heading out. And, see this black mesh? It's leftover from the magnetic insect mesh we use for our windows," says Rachel with a laugh.
Though the couple cook and host fairly often, they were insisent on not having an upper shelf. This way, there is less visual clutter and they will be able to enjoy the subway tile backsplash. "We don't even need a hood as we mostly bake, steam and air-fry. If it does get smokey, we turn on the air purifier and open the windows - no big deal, and it even helps us eat healthy," says Ronald, chuckling. Barely-there wardrobe handles, black kitchen fittings and white track lights that blend in with the white ceiling complete the minimalist look.
To create a restful and elegant ambience in the bedroom, the couple maintained an all-white look - starting with a light wood-look vinyl by Evorich Flooring Group and white storage bed from Ikea - and complemented it with marble-look side tables and wardrobe doors.
The renovation includes transforming one bedroom into an open study and combining the other two remaining bedrooms into a master suite with a walk-in wardrobe. "The bohemian-style wire lamp was inspired a similar designer piece, but the latter is quite pricey. We bought this to see if the style - a fabric that may trap dust easily - works out for us before buying the original piece," says Rachel.
The couple were very selective about the furniture; It has to be easy to match, yet not overly simple. They had no qualms about buying statement pieces from affordable online sites like Taobao, either. The faux fur lounge chair and wire lamp in the bedroom, as well as the geometric seat in the study, are some examples.
"We engaged a separate closet designer for our wardrobe. We wanted a built in look without paying the built-in price, so what we did was place our customised shelves and racks against the existing wall - and simply fitted a sliding door system in front of it!" explains Rachel. This clever idea saved them about $1,000.
The couple recreated the look chic of their favourite Airbnb apartment by sourcing for black, vintage-style fittings online. They could not find anything similar in local stores. The marble and subway-tile theme continues in the bathroom too.
This article was first published in Home & Decor.