The team at interior design firm Gallery 278 are no strangers to home makeovers. Here, principal designer FELICIA KOH runs us through the details of a recent project they embarked on to upgrade a family from a four-bed condo to a gorgeous, spacious Singapore bungalow that they are lucky to be able to rent.
Tell us about your client’s brief and the initial ideas for the project.
The great thing about this project was that we had worked with the client two years earlier, when we furnished their four-bedroom apartment. So there was already familiarity and connection between us. They were familiar with my “common sense” approach, and agreed that we should place strong emphasis on functionality for every pocket of space in their amazing house.
We also wanted to achieve a “resort lifestyle living” concept, with the whole family able to gather together and bond. The client wanted to have defined spaces where they could enjoy this dynamic family time, while at the same time maintaining private spaces for their respective work and school needs, as they were all working from home.
What was the next step?
We then had our overall vision for the project, which included the following goals:
- Incorporate our client’s existing leased furniture inventory (from Esco, our sister company) as well as furniture they shipped from the US.
- Fill up the sprawling house with functional furniture within an allocated budget in a way that does the space justice.
- Bring the outside in and the inside out; the family wanted a seamless flow of indoor and outdoor space, to fully enjoy their new home.
- Create a smart-casual, organic, down-to-earth, natural, comfy, unpretentious and super “chillaxed” feel, with a strong Asian influence (akin to resort-style living in Bali, Phuket and Siem Reap).
- Find an impressive way of filling the huge poolside wall facing the main entrance (this was one of the biggest challenges for me!).
What was different about this project from others?
I fell in love with the unique house, with its clever architectural details and the great thought that had been put into its replica vintage construction. The pool strategically embodies the house, in a way that you don’t even need to use the air-conditioning; there’s a lovely passive cooling effect with wind drafts coming from all four directions throughout the day.
The feng shui in the home has been carefully considered. Right from the entrance gate, you walk by sweeping curves and meandering lines that gently soften the look of the long driveway. As an urban gardener myself, I loved the sense of movement that this driveway contributed within a naturalistic design. It’s a manicured landscape that leads you to the wooden, lattice-cladded main entrance, with its Asian joglo (high-ceilinged roof) design.
What was your favourite part of the project?
I’d say finding the huge artwork to fill the swimming pool wall; it’s 3 by 2.5 metres in size, with red as the dominant colour! The piece had to be weather-resistant, and also flow seamlessly to integrate with the swimming pool. I took a week to go through our library of inventory photos. Eventually, I found something I could imagine looking fab on the huge wall.
Also, 15 years ago, we acquired an Asmat tribal wall carving. It was previously gracing the exit walkway to immigration check-out at Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport. We were able to use this exquisite piece in this project; we were ecstatic that it could finally beautify a home here in Singapore.
Felicia’s 5-step design process
- Develop an understanding of the client’s unmet needs.
- Define the problems to solve and brainstorm potential solutions.
- Create design ideas and develop/fine-tune identified solutions.
- Discuss budget and timeline viability.
- Implement agreed solutions and budget.
What other challenges did you face?
The main one was the timeline. I undertook this project on 28 December 2020; my intention was to complete it before Chinese New Year in February 2021, while trying to navigate New Year, CNY and pandemic restrictions.
My immediate thought for an effective solution was to arrange a 20-foot container of inventory from our factory in Central Java. This was the only sure-fire way to get all the necessary stock to furnish this project, according to my client’s desired timeline and budget, and, most importantly, with the aesthetic of the Asian resort look and feel.
We have huge inventory and resources in Indonesia, and we own a factory where we can practically create anything we envisage. It was pretty exciting to successfully mobilise a container-load of inventory, including finding the spectacular artwork for the poolside wall. The container arrived on time, amidst the year-end and festive holidays, which was a little short of a miracle. Phew!
What do you think of the end result?
The client thought it was incredible that we managed to pull everything together in the specified time and budget! So I’m very happy. The family are enjoying every pocket of space in their new home. I feel we have written a “poem of space” together, and this creates a wonderful feeling. Unlike most staged “picture perfect” homes, this one has a very liveable feel. It’s almost like you’re holidaying at home!
A word from the home owner
“Our perspective really changed with COVID-19 and the Circuit Breaker. We wanted a house to rent in Singapore, rather than a condo. And, instead of our home being a practical spot to drop our bags between trips, we now needed a retreat; we wanted a family bonding space to help us navigate the pandemic.
We specifically craved the outdoor space we were accustomed to in California, so we went on a mission to find a landed property with just that. When we eventually found our home, we fell in love with the serenity, the breeze and the blend of antique Asian charm with modern conveniences.
Our priority for the project was to bring out the beauty, character and charm of the house, while giving it a resort-style vibe. We wanted to create a space for us and the kids, for living, exercise and work; and, since we’re not travelling, we also wanted areas for doing things we enjoy as a family; cooking, reading and playing sports, for example. Another key was working with what we already had in terms of furniture, décor and art. The idea was to somehow use these pieces to fit the house’s Asian character and charm.
Felicia was able to use modern and antique art from the region with pieces we brought from California to create a blend of our Singapore and US lives. The design is very functional; we use every bit of the house. Specifically, we’re very happy with the range of outdoor spaces, the home office, games room and kitchen/breakfast space, all of which are beautifully put together.
We feel incredibly grateful for this lovely home – each part has been transformed to serve as a true retreat (which we have lovingly nicknamed ‘The Embassy’). It’s a place for us to ride out the pandemic and create cherished family memories.”
For more information and to see more residential projects, visit gallery278.com.
This article first appeared in the June 2021 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe, so you never miss a copy!