Living in the dark side: His Star Wars dream home only lacks a life-size Darth Vader
Watching the Star Wars movies captivated a young Samuel Bey so much that it started his lifelong fascination with the galaxy far, far away. And while collectors of Star Wars memorabilia are a dime a dozen, how many people can say they live in a home that's inspired by the movie franchise?
Entering the 35-year-old's home is like stepping into a movie set. The first thing that grabs your attention is the huge feature wall that comprises a six-spoked circle — inspired by the Imperial crest of the Galactic Empire — and its red illumination, the colour of the Sith (the bad guys in Star Wars).
The ceiling of his living room is blacked out, save for a smattering of tiny lights that changes colours with the touch of a remote control, meant to mimic outer space.
"The idea behind the design is that I'm in the Death Star looking out into the galaxy," he chirps, adding his home is thus "black, angry and really, really dark".
A love affair with the dark side
For those unfamiliar with Star Wars lore, the Death Star is a space station and superweapon used by the antagonists, who belong to the dark side of the Force, and the Imperial crest appears on their uniforms and flags.
Unlike most people who would root for the good guys in a show, Samuel shared that at four years old, he was immediately drawn to the main villain Darth Vader in the 1977 film, Star Wars: A New Hope. "He was the coolest character in Star Wars."
That explains why most of his collection is of characters from the dark side and their associated items.
Of course, a fair bit of the collection is dedicated to his hero, and he has what his wife dubs a "Darth Vader shrine". He has figurines of Darth Vader in all shapes and sizes, a full-scale helmet with the character's infamous deep breathing, and a movie replica of his lightsaber.
The one thing that's missing and on his wish list is a life-size Darth Vader, but his wife objects to it, mainly because of the lack of space in the home, Samuel admits. He does have a Darth Vader figure that stands at one metre tall, though.
His collection is a decade old and counting, and the first item that started it all was the aforementioned lightsaber, which comes with the full range of sound effects. He purchased it when he was still living with his parents.
"They didn't know it, but it was the first step into the 'dark side'," he quips.
Things quickly snowballed and he soon amassed so many Star Wars toys and memorabilia that he resorted to placing them on top of one another, forming stacks that reached his bedroom ceiling.
Moving into his own flat has allowed him to display his prized treasures, and he continues to keep an eye out for Star Wars items. And it's not just limited to figurines — anything with Star Wars on it is fair game. This includes sneakers, key chains, and even hair wax. The bag he carries daily is also from a special collaboration between Star Wars and Coach.
For his wedding day, he and his "brothers" were decked out in Star Wars cufflinks and pins. He also has Star Wars jewellery that he wears and his collection includes Pandora charms and a TIE fighter ring.
You would think that buying a gift for him would be very simple — you just need to get anything Star Wars-related. However, this has resulted in him often receiving items that he already owns.
"When Legoland Malaysia first opened, everyone who visited bought me a Darth Vader keychain. I ended up with more than a few of those," he chortles, though he admits it's often because he has already bought the items he has his eye on.
These days, close friends know better and it's less of an issue. But like any good collector, he usually purchases two of the same item, if he can afford it. "One to play with and one to keep in mint condition."
He nearly had a Hello Kitty home
Having a home decked out in Star Wars doesn't seem like a great idea if you aren't a fan, but Samuel's wife doesn't mind. In fact, she was the one who mooted the idea of having a themed home, though Star Wars wasn't exactly what she had in mind.
When the couple were looking to renovate their Bedok flat, she chanced upon a couple who owned a Lego-themed home. They paid them a visit during an open house, and decided that they wanted a themed home, too. His wife was leaning towards something Hello Kitty-inspired but Samuel "intercepted her and did a whole Star Wars-themed home instead".
What swung things his way was when he offered to pay for the renovations, which he shares came up to $25,000 and it includes a walk-in wardrobe. It was the right choice, too, as her love for Hello Kitty grew cold while his passion for Star Wars continues strong to this day.
He engaged the same interior designer who did up the Lego home they had visited, and the process was "fairly easy". "It helps that I'm not too fussy either," he says.
"I gave him an idea of what I like, such as the Imperial logo, the dark side and Darth Vader, and he came up with the rest, including the feature wall that is now the centrepiece of my home."
There were some ideas that Samuel nixed, such as the initial suggestion to cover one of the cabinets with a full-length Darth Vader image. "That was a tad overboard for us," he says. They also added more display space to accommodate his ever-growing Star Wars collection.
The most challenging area to design would have to be the dining area, as there aren't too many scenes of people dining in the movie. The designer drew inspiration from the Mos Eisley cantina in the movies while ensuring that the space is also functional. Like most people's dining areas during this period, it has now morphed into his WFH space.
Other deliberate design choices include adding slanted edges and corners in the ceiling and storage areas to give a futuristic vibe to the entire home.
But the Star Wars designs stop at the common areas. "We were very clear when designing the flat, that the living room would be Star Wars-themed and the bedrooms free of Star Wars.
"There's a line where after you step past, it becomes a normal flat. We didn't want too many exciting things in the room because I may not be able to sleep at night."
'I look forward to coming home every day'
It's been about five years since the renovation, and he confesses that he hasn't stopped adding to his collection.
His display cupboard, which is now nearly filled to the brim, had initially contained only 30 per cent of the items that are now there.
To ensure things don't get out of hand, his wife "enacted a law" where anything above a certain amount would require her approval before the purchase. But Samuel has found creative ways around that and it's not an issue of contention between the pair.
His biggest one-time expenditure on Star Wars to date, other than the home renovations and overseas Disneyland trips, remains the very first movie replica lightsaber he bought. He paid $250 for it but reckons that it goes for about $400 now.
He also hasn't sold a single piece of his collection yet as they are all very dear to him and his wife has not asked him to do so yet. Instead, he has purchased pieces sold by other husbands who have been asked to remove their Star Wars items from their homes.
"After they see photos of my home and I tell them that I'm a collector, they sometimes even reduce their asking price. They are happy that it is going to someone who actually appreciates them."
Friends and family have asked him, "What if one day you wake up and don't like Star Wars anymore?"
"I don't think that day will come anytime soon," he says.
While the only people who have said that they want a home like his are all young children, for Samuel, his flat is "something that he looks forward to coming home to every day".