JEANNETTE LING, a Singapore interior designer and home stylist, chats to us about her inspirations, business and home decoration tips.
What were you doing before becoming an interior designer?
I was born and raised in Singapore, but spent almost 18 years living abroad, working mainly for multinationals in the media and art auction industries. I met my British husband in Hong Kong and our son was born there. We relocated back here a few years back for my hubby’s work.
I’ve had a very fulfilling legal career but there has always been a creative itch waiting to be scratched. Last year, I decided to take the plunge and went back to (design) school. I had already been assisting family and friends for several years as an unofficial home stylist. I had also been practising this craft for many years when relocating across various countries in no less than 15 moves both as a tenant and homeowner.
What inspired you to set up your home stylist business?
I came across homeowners who had trouble finding a Singapore interior designer with the bandwidth or willingness to take on smaller projects. I also had friends and colleagues who were renting and wanted an interiors makeover yet couldn’t undertake renovation. StyledbyJeanette was born to fill this niche and offer such services.
Being a small business owner you do have to juggle all aspects of work by yourself. However, I’m fuelled by a passion to see the happiness on my clients’ faces. I love hearing their stories and incorporating what they love into their homes.
What makes you stand out as an interior designer?
There is so much amazing creative talent all around! All of the other home stylists bring their own personality, experiences and strengths to the table. I truly don’t believe it’s a question of which Singapore interior designer is better, but rather about chemistry with a client. They need to think about who is empathic to their needs, understands their wants. Who is able to provide them with a vision that is comfortable yet reveals something new and undiscovered.
I’ve spent two decades being a professional problem solver and business enabler in my corporate life. I bring that solution focus, pragmatic mindset and attention to detail to my new career as a home stylist.
I’ve also always had an innate good eye and creative instincts, and I’m a pretty energetic, can-do person. Nothing brings me more joy than a job very well executed to the satisfaction of the client.
I also try to road test the quality of products and reliability of after-sales services before I recommend specific suppliers/ retailers to clients. Sometimes a client might source a home decoration item themselves from online and ask my opinion about it. My view is not to skimp on items where comfort is important like a sofa, bed and dining chairs. I’m more inclined to purchase from a source that has a showroom where you can touch, feel and test an item.
But for smaller or less costly items, it’s fun to experiment. As long as you’re prepared for the fact it may have a limited life span. I’ve certainly been pleasantly surprised with some inexpensive online items. When I mix and match them with other brand items, the look is a top-notch, quality one. That’s what an interior stylist does – helps the client pull all the bits and bobs together into an overall harmonised look within an agreed budget.
Do you work with a particular home decoration style or look?
If one had to put a label on my style, I guess it would be called “eclectic”. I enjoy many different styles from boho-ethnic chic to tropical vibes, to urban glamour to zen serenity. It is also absolutely possible to incorporate different looks into different zones of a home; it just needs some careful planning and curation.
While, at a personal level, I love splashes of colour, I’m not a maximalist. I like to work with a base of neutrals and naturals such as stone finishes, calming white or textured grey.
If I had to paint a mental visual for a potential new client about what my personal style is I’d describe it as Armani Casa understated sophistication and quality, meets Max Mara cashmere cosy, meets pops of ethnic and cultural richness and colour. I’m influenced and inspired by architects and industrial designers such as Frank Gehry and Eileen Grey, yet I also have a soft spot for the edgy contemporary look of Kartell, Flos, Marc Newson and Phillipe Starck designs.
What hot home decoration tips can you pass on to expats wanting to make their temporary property a home?
The pace of life in Singapore can get stressful, so it’s worth investing to create happy spaces at home to rejuvenate yourself. This could be a quiet reading corner, or a cosy yet functional balcony (even if it’s a bijou one) that you can unwind in at the end of a long day.
Also, if your rental home is not quite as naturally lit as you’d like it to be, clever use of floor and table lamps, and floor standing or beautifully framed wall mirrors strategically placed around the home can help reflect natural light around the home. Use of plants and flowers will add calm and warmth to the home, as well as soften awkward or hard corners.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I love travel, nature, music, dance, art, architecture and fashion. I’m a naturally curious-minded, life-long learner type of personality. So it comes from everywhere!
This article on home decoration and interiors first appeared in the November 2023 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe so you never miss a copy! And to make the most of living in Singapore, read our latest City Guide here for free!