Saturday, February 21, 2009

Tiong Bahru Post War Flats

The Straits Times
February 21, 2009

The bedrooms' walnut veneer-and- black metal doors use tree branches for handles.

Black and woody

Instead of being gloomy, this flat's black decor gets a warm update with woody and colourful touches

When Jermaine Ng received the key to her resale three-room flat in Tiong Bahru, she could not decide on a style for her new home.

So she based her starting inspiration on the things she likes.

'I love black, and on my travels, the things that attract me are prints and graphics,' says the interior director of design firm Juxtapose.

'Along the way, I found that the natural grain of wood goes with all that.'

Her 1,000 sq ft home is now an eclectic mix of trendy black furnishings, walnut veneer carpentry and funky memorabilia.

Playing with light, she elevated her favourite colour from being a stark, gloomy shade.

In the kitchen, for instance, both matte and glossy textures are used - from shiny black mosaic tiles to a rough flame-finished black granite bar countertop - while walnut veneer cabinet doors provide a soft, warm element.

Evidence of her fun-loving personality is seen on the black powder-coated metal shelves in the living room, where she displays her vintage cameras, drink bottles and matchboxes from around the world.

Designed for entertaining, the roomy living area has a digital turntable on customised roller shelves for spinning tunes and a TV projector set-up for film screenings.

The large projector screen is also a treat for the movie buff, who watches DVDs on quiet nights in with her three dogs.

The previous owner had removed the original balcony and expanded the two bedrooms and a little of the living room before Ms Ng took over the flat two years ago.

'The house with the tree' So structurally, all she had to do was to remove the kitchen wall and reposition one of the bedroom doors for a cleaner layout.

Ms Ng, who likes to cook, wanted plenty of natural light in her kitchen.

With the kitchen wall gone, she now has a bright, breezy space with cross-ventilation from the living room and kitchen windows.

She was also keen to keep the look 'raw'.

So cement walls, grey homogeneous floor tiles and a sinewy tree trunk draped with bulbs and wires in the living room add an organic feel.

'My neighbours know this as 'the house with the tree',' she chuckles and adds that the tree can be seen from the opposite block.

The bedroom, however, takes on a different vibe.

Inspired by the old-world glamour of Hong Kong film-maker Wong Kar Wai's movie In The Mood For Love, Ms Ng went with a black-and-red palette with strong Oriental elements, including a headboard wrapped in a vermillion chinoiserie fabric from Belgium.

To evoke the movie's sultry vibe, she painted the walls rust-red and used black glass sliding doors for the full-height wardrobe.

Black may seem like the worst colour to have for a home owner with three white dogs, but for Ms Ng, it is not an issue.

'Black is hard to maintain but I'm not particular about the mess.'

Besides, the timber flooring was dark-stained for a good reason.

'So I won't trip over my white dogs in the dark room,' she quips.

A black glass panel with sandblasted engraving by the main door acts as a doormat and leads to a tree trunk decor piece in the living room (above).

This spread first appeared in the February issue of Home & Decor, published by SPH Magazines.

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