For the last 10 years, CHLOE ELKERTON of E&A Interiors has been working across Singapore helping to transform spaces into homes. Here, she takes us through one of her recently completed projects.
The brief: Completely renovate a four-bedroom apartment
Location: Stevens Road
Who lives here: Helen, Andy and their two children, Delfina (5) and Ayla (7)
Our client, Helen, saw a feature in Expat Living on E&A Interiors. She liked the warmth and style of our other projects and wanted a similar look in her newly purchased apartment. It was tired and dated, and would need a full renovation.
The brief was to create a stylish and inviting home to suit the whole family. The living room, dining area, kitchen and master bedroom were the most important areas and where we focused the majority of the budget. But we also renovated four bathrooms and created a new playroom.
We had a clear budget to stick to, and although we had to make some small compromises along the way, we fulfilled (and exceeded) her vision. Our advice to clients is to focus on key areas and get those how you really want them – guest rooms and study areas can always wait until a later stage, to help ease the budget. To get the best results, don’t water down those keys areas!
The client had spent time studying and working in the UK and was drawn to the beautiful period homes there. This was the look she wanted to achieve when she contacted us. She also had a couple of incredible statement art pieces that helped as a starting point and gave a lot of inspiration for the project.
The Design Process:
The initial stages of planning are vital, and we find ourselves extremely involved with weekly meetings. It can be three months before any site works commence. We believe it’s better to spend the extra time to get it right at the beginning, as it will make the process smoother for everyone on site. Luckily, Helen had allowed a few months before they got the keys so we had ample time to plan.
As part of E&A Interiors’ design process, we first create a design concept with detailed drawings of the floor plans, lighting plans, furniture layout, demolition plans (if needed) and elevations of any custom carpentry, plus the bathroom and kitchen. We then create boards with the proposed finishes and images of the selected furniture and lighting.
Once the client approves, the drawings are given to our trusted in-house contractor to quote. There may be a few rounds of tweaks but once the budget is approved and we get the green light then site work can start! It can then be three to four months of onsite renovations (depending on the project size and final scope of works).
Throughout the apartment, we used a palette of seafoam, greeny blues, neutrals and pastels – soft, liveable colours that were inspired by some of Helen’s stunning art. They are very calming and worked well with the existing grey marble floors. We then added touches of brass for lighting, handles and beautiful accessories throughout.
The Living Room:
The original living area was huge and far too big for their everyday needs. We proposed to divide the space and create an additional play and craft room for the two children. This kept their toys out of the main space and ensured Helen’s lounge stayed immaculate! We also designed and custom-made furnishings, such as the dining bench, rugs, sofas, ottomans and all the built-in carpentry.
The Dining Nook:
This needed to be suitable for both formal and everyday casual use and Helen loved the idea of a built-in seating area with storage display cabinets either side. We found the dining chairs from Hock Siong, which really helped to give the space character and combined well with the elegant Barbara Barry dining table. We resprayed the chairs and added a seafoam Blithfield fabric on the seat. It shows how you can mix and match to breathe new life into old pieces, giving the place character and preventing everything from looking too new!
The amazing green wallpaper we used behind the dining bench and on the television wall is from an Australian company, Quercus & Co, which made a big difference as it adds subtle pattern, colour and depth.
By using the banquette seating, we maximised the space, instead of having all chairs and the tables pushed out further into the room. It also avoided having a plain wall behind the chairs. This is Helen’s favourite place to sit as she can look out across the entire space.
We totally gutted the brown and dreary kitchen and designed a family friendly and stylish kitchen. Then we installed double French doors that opened the space up, plus a customised island with cane chairs. We used a stronger green on the kitchen island, which pops against the white spray painted carpentry and marble chevron splashback. The wall panelling adds character to what would be a plain wall.
The girls wanted a pink enchanted-themed bedroom and fell in love with an expensive Cole & Son stars wallpaper. Instead of just papering one wall, which can often look unfinished, we installed it at half height with a dado rail to save costs – it looks very effective and pretty.
We put in a pink and white scallop cement floor combined with a wall mosaic. For more cost-effective carpentry, we used a laminate and added pretty handles and a decorative mirror.
The existing bathroom was very dark and depressing. We gutted the space and used a patterned cement floor tile that added character and interest to a big bathroom. We then used a more cost effective grey metro glazed tile for the walls. The spray-painted, customised carpentry in soft grey with brass hardware and pretty pink glass lights from Anthroplogie add to the finished look. I love this bathroom as the details like the floor, carpentry, wall lights and handles really make it a bathroom you want to spend time in!
Andy and Helen didn’t want an overly feminine bedroom, but they did want a calming and pretty space. We used a palette of blush pinks and greys with a custom-made winged bed in a lovely paisley printed fabric and bone-inlay bedside tables to add some beautiful detail. A large bamboo silk rug adds luxe and warmth, and grounds the furniture. It combines with touches of brass and the art, which really pull the room together.
This was a great room to work on, as we had fun installing an unusual wallpaper and a striking geometric patterned cement floor. You can get away with something more eccentric in a powder room – I absolutely love it!
Adding natural finishes, such as cane, gives character and texture. Upholstery and cushions in printed linens combined with brass lighting and finishes adds luxe and elegance.
#1 You don’t always do everything at once – you can just focus on a few key areas to start with and get those right. Then go back to do guest rooms or the study. Don’t water down the look you want and try to do everything.
#2 Mix in less expensive finishes and add pretty handles.
#3 Consider a few vintage pieces – mixing old and new always works!
#4 A patterned floor makes a lifeless bathroom more interesting.
#5 Invest in good lighting; it really adds to the luxe feel and you can take it with you if you move.
Want more inspiration for your interiors? See our home décor section!