Just moved to Singapore and looking to give your home that already lived in look? You only need one beautiful piece to make a difference in any room. From something old to something made new, these readers tell us why they picked these antique or reproduction pieces for their homes. We find out from these readers why they purchased their antique, vintage and reproduction furniture, and how it fits with their home.
Sameera and Dr Ram Nath, Singaporean
We were looking for pieces of furniture that reflected our Indian heritage. We’ve collected a lot of pieces over the years of Oriental and Balinese origin, so we wanted something different.
We had pinpointed two areas in our home for the new pieces: first, the wall directly across from the master bed, because it’s the first thing we see from across the bed when waking up the morning; second, the wall at the back of the room facing the entrance to Sameera’s study – this room is long yet narrow in shape, so we wanted a piece that would welcome us as we stepped into it.
We were actually just window-shopping over a weekend, and chanced upon Artful House, and were immediately attracted to a number of their pieces on display. Unfortunately, we only had room for two. The store assistant was very knowledgeable and seemed to intuitively know our taste for furniture. We purchased a sideboard for opposite the master bed, and the arched console to face Sameera’s study.
We loved the way these pieces were made to look lighter with whitewashed finishing, as a lot of antiques tend to look heavy and bulky. The carvings were also beautifully preserved, and it’s always wonderful to see these antique Indian doorways and window frames being given a new lease of life.
Jana Langford, Australian
I had initially visited Emperor’s Attic to buy a Willow mattress, as recommended by a friend during my second week in Singapore. I saw some lovely pieces while I was there, and knew I needed something for our entrance and open-plan living room.
The owner Chantal mentioned there would be a new shipment arriving soon and took my details so she could show me some photos of what I was looking for after discussing size and colours. The whole process was so seamless and friendly, and not pushy at all – they want you to purchase furniture that you’ll love. I was never rushed and, when I saw some photos, I went in store to check that the colours were right for my place, before deciding on the final piece, a sideboard, which sits proudly in our living room.
This piece ticked all the boxes for me. I wanted something that was pretty, antique, and that works with our contemporary space. I like its clean lines and beautiful colour, and it’s also solid and very practical with its storage.
When we first arrived in Singapore, I heard this was the place to get your antique furniture, so I didn’t hesitate to visit when I had a clearer idea as to what I needed. Once there, the experience was so sincere and helpful that I understand why customers come back for more.
Natasha Peart Wijeratne, Irish-Australian, husband Don, Australian, and Truffles, Singaporean
We moved to Singapore as newlyweds, and took some time to develop our home aesthetic as a couple. We wanted pieces to keep long term, which would travel with us, and look good anywhere. We were furnishing our living and bedroom spaces and had an open mind as to what we would choose.
We ended up buying several pieces, including two sideboards, one cupboard, one shoe cupboard, two stools, two bedroom units and a money chest. Our sideboards and cupboard match, but we don’t have them side by side. The cupboard is in the dining area and the sideboards are in bedrooms. The shoe cupboard has a kimono design and is also in the dining area to add a splash of colour and a little extra storage space. Our stools are being used as bedside tables in one of the guest rooms – I love their pastel shades and how they add a hint of culture to the room. The bedroom units are housing some towels and home office equipment. It’s great how versatile they are and how their muted, soft tones make the home office area a little less obtrusive.
As we were looking for long-term pieces, we wanted something a little different to the stock standard. Just Anthony really has this in spades. We ended up purchasing more than we’d intended, as we just couldn’t narrow it down. All the staff were incredibly helpful and kind, and delivery was prompt and trouble-free.
Farahdian Aziz, Singaporean
We moved back to Singapore from San Francisco, leaving behind our vintage mid-century sideboard. I started looking for a new piece as I wanted some storage space along the dining room wall. I wanted to go with mid-century again, but it was impossible to find anything. I looked for new pieces, vintage pieces, refurbished pieces, but to no avail.
After almost eight months of searching I happened to walk into Lim’s Holland Village and saw them unboxing new furniture. I loved the vibrant colours of the oriental pieces they had in the store so I decided to come back again.
The next time I went by I saw a Tibetan cabinet in yellow with green trim in the window; it was the perfect size but I didn’t fancy the colour. Val, the salesperson, showed me another piece in the back – this one was deep red with a teal trim outline and it was love at first sight, and the dimensions were perfect too.
My husband and I both appreciated how harmonious the two mandala-like medallions on the cabinet doors were. The top of the cabinet holds a collection of our crystal Feng Shui figurines and there is ample storage space for some books, partyware and special occasion home décor items.
Lim’s carries a surprisingly large stock of items, and Val was very helpful in updating me on new shipments and if there were any pieces I’d be interested in. That really helped, and I’ll keep going back because of this service.
Sandy Ann Ho, Canadian, husband Ronald Thia and son Sean, Singaporean
Where we can afford it, we try to go for antique or vintage pieces rather than reproduction, as they carry more history and character, and typically have better workmanship. We look at the condition, quality and use of materials and finishing. Minor defects are definitely not an issue, so long as the piece is still functional.
Reasonable pricing is also important; I understand vintage pieces are hard to come by, but if you look hard enough you can find a pretty wide spectrum in terms of price point within Singapore. We’re also interested in the story behind a piece, although not all retailers are knowledgeable in this respect.
I visit Möbler often, and I hardly leave the place empty-handed. We most recently purchased a desk chair, writing desk, retro table lamp and a bookcase for my little one, as we are setting up a homework corner for him. The pieces have exquisite detailing, especially the writing desk and the table lamp, which has this very rare turquoise colour top and is still with its original switch. All the pieces are of Scandinavian origin ranging from the early 1900s to 1950s.
It’s like treasure hunting every time I visit, and I know the owner Emelie works hard to source her pieces and I can trust their origin.
I really admire Emelie’s courage and passion in promoting history and lifestyle from her heritage on this soil. Möbler is a beautiful shop run by a shop owner with guts and heart!
Jamie and Charlie Koegler, American
When we first came to Singapore, we lived in a furnished high-rise condo. We’re particularly fond of the unique, local architecture of Singaporean shophouses so when Jamie found our current place (back in 2016), a heritage shophouse in the Jalan Besar area, we jumped on the opportunity immediately. This saw us move from a fully furnished flat to a much larger space, so the entire house became a palette for us to decorate.
We love colonial period furniture and collecting interesting things from our travels. The colonial style has an unparalleled craftsmanship that you rarely find today, and we appreciate its use of beautiful solid hardwoods. Our furniture is a mix of British and Dutch colonial pieces ranging from the early to late 19th century.
We happened upon the Past Perfect Collection while wandering around the Tan Boon Liat Building, and now most of our furniture is in fact from here. Pieces include a beautifully carved rosewood dining table with double-caned chairs, a British colonial writing desk, and a British colonial campaign chest of drawers.
We also have a monumental Dutch colonial cupboard that is the main point of focus in our living room, and a unique British colonial drop-front bureau that has some local influence in a number of subtle parrots carved between small serpentine desk drawers and carved lion-paw feet.
Good-quality antique furniture is surprisingly hard to come by in Singapore, and Pieter and Marie are very knowledgeable and have an excellent eye for good pieces. Our approach is to buy the best possible items. Antiques have and will continue to last multiple lifetimes, and they stand out and provide uniqueness for the home.
Jacqueline and Steven Ferguson, Canadian, and Charley the shihtzu
We renewed our apartment lease and were considering what we needed to do to make the space function better and make us feel more at home. We have very high ceilings that we wanted to make use of, but still have the option of separating the furniture later in another residence.
We’ve always been attracted to the practicality and clean, straight lines of some Asian furnishings, and were drawn to this antique cabinet in warm elm. We love the gold tones of the disk, handles and hinges. With the help of Jean at Woody Antique House, we had the inside finished with thick glass shelves that really sparkle, and we maximised the potential space for storage inside. We’ve created a fun bar on the top shelf, and in the upper part of the cabinet we have our old photographs and documents safely stored.
We were attracted to the nice, open presentation of furniture at Woody Antique House, and Jean gave us lots of time to consider and look around. We also purchased a Mongolian chest, dining room round table and six chairs, for which she helped us select cushions. We’re very pleased with everything, and our storage issues are now resolved.
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