Designer Nathan Yong loves his 1940s terrace house for its lush, peaceful surrounds

Clear glass windows (left) replace the house's original frosted ones to let in views of the garden. Round Gubi mirrors set against a blue-green background (below left) give the shower area a nautical vibe. The Elizabeth sofa (below right) is designed
Clear glass windows (left) replace the house's original frosted ones to let in views of the garden. Round Gubi mirrors set against a blue-green background (below left) give the shower area a nautical vibe. The Elizabeth sofa (below right) is designed by Mr Yong and is placed opposite the bed.ST PHOTOS: DANIEL NEO
Clear glass windows (left) replace the house's original frosted ones to let in views of the garden. Round Gubi mirrors set against a blue-green background (below left) give the shower area a nautical vibe. The Elizabeth sofa (below right) is designed
Clear glass windows (left) replace the house's original frosted ones to let in views of the garden. Round Gubi mirrors set against a blue-green background (below left) give the shower area a nautical vibe. The Elizabeth sofa (below right) is designed by Mr Yong and is placed opposite the bed.ST PHOTOS: DANIEL NEO
Clear glass windows (left) replace the house's original frosted ones to let in views of the garden. Round Gubi mirrors set against a blue-green background (below left) give the shower area a nautical vibe. The Elizabeth sofa (below right) is designed
Clear glass windows (left) replace the house's original frosted ones to let in views of the garden. Round Gubi mirrors set against a blue-green background (below left) give the shower area a nautical vibe. The Elizabeth sofa (below right) is designed by Mr Yong and is placed opposite the bed.ST PHOTOS: DANIEL NEO
Clear glass windows (left) replace the house's original frosted ones to let in views of the garden. Round Gubi mirrors set against a blue-green background (below left) give the shower area a nautical vibe. The Elizabeth sofa (below right) is designed
Clear glass windows (left) replace the house's original frosted ones to let in views of the garden. Round Gubi mirrors set against a blue-green background (below left) give the shower area a nautical vibe. The Elizabeth sofa (below right) is designed by Mr Yong and is placed opposite the bed.ST PHOTOS: DANIEL NEO

Designer Nathan Yong loves his rented 1940s terrace house for its lush and peaceful surrounds

In an East Coast neighbourhood full of modern-looking houses, designer Nathan Yong's black-and-white colonial home is decidedly quaint.

Surrounded by tall lalang and trees, the rented 1940s terrace house is reminiscent of an English cottage.

"I hate new houses because they are too standard-looking," says Mr Yong, 43. "Here, I'm not surrounded by tall buildings and I can garden."

Of moving from a condominium in Dakota near the Mountbatten estate to his current digs last April, he adds: "There are no speeding cars, no screaming children. You can even hear the birds chirping. It's very serene, laidback and contemplative."

The corner house, opposite a field, is about 10 minutes' walk from East Coast Park. Despite its British-looking exterior, it has a distinctive Scandinavian vibe inside.

Classic pieces from Grafunkt, the home-grown furniture retailer co-founded by Mr Yong, are instantly recognisable in his home.

On the ground floor, four blue AAC22 chairs by Danish label Hay are placed around a curvy wooden table called Union by Folks, his own furniture brand which he designs for.

An L-shaped sofa designed by Polish company Sits, named Heaven, invites guests to sit down and put their feet up.

In the bedroom, the Elizabeth sofa Mr Yong designed for French furniture brand Ligne Roset is placed next to a DCW Mantis lamp.

Grafunkt has two stores: a flagship in Millenia Walk and an outlet in Playfair Road.

Mr Yong says he bid a high price on the open rental market "because I really wanted to live in a house like this" - with front and backyards.

Having lived in various types of housing such as a kampung hut in Tanjong Katong and a three-room HDB flat from the time he was a child, he was taken by the colonial terrace after visiting a friend who used to live in a similar house across the street 15 years ago.

Renovating the two-storey, 950 sq ft house took a month and cost about $30,000.

When he was first handed the keys, the place was bare and basic, so he set about transforming it.

In the outdoor porch area, he put in a chengal wood deck and deck chairs so he could sit there to enjoy the sunshine or breeze.

He also replaced the house's frosted windows with clear glass ones to take advantage of the garden view. "Having frosted glass felt like I was inside a cold room. I want to see nature and my garden."

He puts his green fingers to work in the garden, where he has added a small pool with lotuses and lilies. He lets the plants and weeds run wild.

"Not everything has to be in straight lines or parallel to one another," he explains.

"Even if berries from the trees drop onto my car or the birds feed off them, I'm all right with it. It's part and parcel of life, so I let it be."

As he did not like the look of the white floor tiles inside, he laid solid oak panels over them.

A structural concrete pillar and beam, between the living and dining areas, was painted in a rust shade, using a mixture containing iron powder, which oxidised as it dried, lending a touch of industrial chic.

The shower area - this is a separate area from the toilet - has a nautical vibe, with round Gubi mirrors set against a blue-green background.

Not everything came from his store. For example, Mr Yong equipped his kitchen with Ikea cabinets, choosing stone-blue ones for a "classic look" against black-and-white tiles.

He customised the cabinets by painting their chrome legs golden.

There are also two Art Deco-styled shoe cabinets from another local brand and a retro-looking fan from an antique shop in Penang. A pot in his living room is from dragon kiln Thow Kwang Industry in Jurong.

Nothing is out of place. Mention how his home is so put together and Mr Yong, who is a bachelor, points to the spare bedroom on the second floor, currently an ad-hoc storeroom and his wardrobe.

"You have to set aside a 'messy room' for a house to look this neat," he jokes.

natashaz@sph.com.sg