Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Straits Times : At home in Tiong Bahru

Pre-war conserved apartments in Tiong Bahru have become popular with yuppies who like the area's nostalgic charm

The Straits Times
Life Section
24 September 2011
By huang huifen

Mr Terence Yeung and Ms Bella Koh -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND LIM
Tiong Bahru is where the heart is for designer couple Terence Yeung and Bella Koh.

Mr Yeung, an interior designer-lecturer, and Ms Koh, a fashion consultant, lived in a third-floor unit in Eng Hoon Street for eight years. When they moved house in March this year, it was to a unit just two streets away.

Ms Koh, 30, says: 'We are reluctant to leave this neighbourhood because it is such a convenient location. It has a market and is just a few minutes away from town. It also has a charisma that keeps you here. It has evolved and has so many things happening now.'

The couple moved to a 1,350 sq ft two-bedroom apartment in Eng Watt Street because they had always wanted a ground-floor unit that had courtyard space for their eight cats to roam in.


The courtyard (above) in their new ground-floor apartment is meant to be a space for their eight cats to roam in. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND LIM
The apartment cost more than $1 million and they splashed out a six-figure sum on renovations. Many of these apartments have less than 56 years left on their 99-year lease.

They figure the renovation will save them money in the long run. Mr Yeung, 41, says with a chuckle: 'We designed the house in such a way that it will be better than a hotel or a spa so that we don't have to travel anymore.'

Indeed, in a land-scarce city where space is a form of luxury in homes these days, the clever play of perspectives in this one evokes the feel of a luxe European hotel.

Take, for example, the 2.6m by 2.6m white French doors that separate the kitchen area from the bedrooms. Mr Yeung chose that height to create an illusion of space when entering the area leading to the bedroom.

'The entrance defines the experience when you enter a space. If you enter a narrow door, you will feel that the space is very tight and suffocating, and vice versa,' he says.

The illusion of space is repeated with a 3.2m by 4m six-door, white-washed oak bookshelf, the first thing you see when you walk through the French doors.

Similarly, the door leading to the master bedroom measures 3.2m by 0.9m, giving the sense of entering a spacious suite.

The spa mood is captured in their bedroom bathroom through the use of beige 'travertine' material for the wall, flooring and sink. A rainshower and bathtub complete the experience.

There are also green spaces, too. The airwell next to the kitchen is now a herb garden where Ms Koh can gather fresh ingredients for cooking. Two life-size deer stuffed by a taxidermist complete its wild look.


The airwell next to the kitchen is now a herb garden (above). -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND LIM
Mr Yeung's design agenda was influenced by the building's Art Deco style: 'The interior should have a European feel to complement the Art Deco architecture of the building.'

The aim to return to its roots also saw him reconfiguring the walls and doors of the original plan of the apartment. Yet it remains as functional as it is aesthetically pleasing.

hfhuang@sph.com.sg

3 comments:

charlesalvarez23 said...

It was wonderful blog. I love the entire features, it looks gorgeous and fabulous. Hope to have that kind of property someday. Thank you for sharing.



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Wee Yuting said...

Hi Alvin,

May I know which are the private and HDB flats in Tiong Bahru? Cos I thought all of them (pre-war and post-war) are under HDB, until I saw that your listings are categorised according to private and HDB.

Thank for your reply!

Joseph Prieto said...

I fell in love with the house, its really cool and soothing to the eyes. Wish I could have like this. I'm going to design my house like that at Villagio Block Lot 6.