That old school feel

PHOTO: That old school feel

Performance analyst Rachel Lee and her sales director husband Harsha Sundararaman had their childhood homes in Serene House and Gillman Heights respectively. "We remember growing up surrounded by lush greenery and ample space for us to run around and play games such as police and thief," says Ms Lee.

Their present home, a 2,000 sq ft, three-bedroom apartment in an old condominium estate in Bedok offers spacious elements that are not found in modern estates.

"It was an opportunity for us to relive our childhood and for our children to experience joys that an older estate has to offer," says Mr Sundararaman.

Ms Lee adds: "Besides the surroundings, we also wanted to bring some of the old school wonders in to our home - the black grille at our entrance, the brick walls and the tiles in our kitchen are all items from our parents' homes that we wanted to replicate."

Their instructions to interior designer Annie Tan from The Interarch Design was to create a "home that would remind us of the good old days when we were growing up", says Ms Lee. "We also wanted a place that was not too fussy, homely and child-friendly."

With that brief, Ms Tan put in details that gave the apartment a nostalgic feel.

For example, upon entering the home, visitors will see a white brick wall.

Most owners would have preferred to have a smooth plastered wall, but exposing the bricks gives the apartment a more retro touch.

In the living room, the television is housed in a custom-made cabinet made of timber panels.

Rather than use wallpaper to dress up the living room wall, the timber panels double as a feature wall.

Ms Tan did away with curtains for the living room.

Instead, white timber blinds with black trimmings were used. The result is not only a clean look for the living room, but also an impression of living in a black and white house.

To further give the apartment the old school feel, Ms Tan had Peranakan-style floral floor tiles installed in the kitchen, and also along a corridor that leads to the back of the apartment.

The floral tiles are placed only in "small areas, so as to keep these places looking less busy," says Ms Tan.

In contrast to the busy pattern on the kitchen floor, white mosaic tiles were used for the kitchen walls.

The old school feel extends to a bathroom in the apartment. Rather than plain white tiles, black and white mosaic floor tiles were put in.

For the bathroom walls, Ms Tan chose to use rectangular tiles, rather than the usual square ones. "The mosaic tiles and the rectangular tiles all give that old school feel," says Ms Tan.

Besides wanting an old school feel for their home, the couple had other requirements.

For one, they wanted a room behind the kitchen for their helper. As they do not cook much, Ms Tan reduced the size of the kitchen to create a room and a bigger yard.

The family chose to do away with balconies in the living room and master bedroom so as to have bigger living spaces. But even without balconies, they can still enjoy the outdoors, thanks to a large courtyard at the front of the apartment.

The courtyard has been covered with homogeneous tiles.

The couple wanted to have grass here, and rather than grow real grass, Ms Tan put in artificial turf, as "it is easier to maintain". Black and white bamboo chick blinds here again add to the old school feeling.

Spacious white Ms Lee says: "We do family dinners alfresco style every now and then at the courtyard. We should be spending more time at the courtyard."

Unlike apartments today, which are getting smaller and smaller, this 27-year-old apartment is spacious.

The couple, who have a daughter, 22-month old Sonia, loved the apartment for its spaciousness and wanted to keep it that way.

"We were thinking of a few different colour schemes, but decided on a generally white home in the end. We wanted to create a sense of spaciousness and a bright, cheerful home," says Mr Sundararaman.

Contrary to what some might feel that a mostly white home is difficult to maintain, Ms Tan says that black interiors requires more maintenance, as "dust shows up more on black".

The couple relied on artwork and furnishing to add colour to the home, such as a painting of waterlilies with shades of green and blue, in the dry kitchen area, a grey sofa paired with lavender rug in the living room and Sonia's red rocking horse and writing table and chair.

Despite moving in just a few months ago, the couple already have their own favourite spots around the apartment. "I like the living area where I spend decent amount of time. Harsha prefers the courtyard area and Sonia's room where he spends a lot of time reading and playing with her," says Ms Lee.