THE CHIC APARTMENT

Retro chic home decoration with artworks and natural materials

The kitchen has vintage-glazed jade ceramic tiles. The owners get a clear view of the sea from their bed. The entertaining area has a built-in walnut-and-teak shelf filled with pieces by avant-garde artists. The bathroom has two wash-basins.
The entertaining area has a built-in walnut-and-teak shelf filled with pieces by avant-garde artists. PHOTOS: ALICIA CHAN, FORWARD 50
The kitchen has vintage-glazed jade ceramic tiles. The owners get a clear view of the sea from their bed. The entertaining area has a built-in walnut-and-teak shelf filled with pieces by avant-garde artists. The bathroom has two wash-basins.
The owners get a clear view of the sea from their bed.
The kitchen has vintage-glazed jade ceramic tiles. The owners get a clear view of the sea from their bed. The entertaining area has a built-in walnut-and-teak shelf filled with pieces by avant-garde artists. The bathroom has two wash-basins.
The bathroom has two wash-basins.
The kitchen has vintage-glazed jade ceramic tiles. The owners get a clear view of the sea from their bed. The entertaining area has a built-in walnut-and-teak shelf filled with pieces by avant-garde artists. The bathroom has two wash-basins.
The kitchen has vintage-glazed jade ceramic tiles.

East Coast condo apartment is decorated with artwork and natural materials

Step into the master bedroom of this 1,600 sq ft condominium apartment in East Coast and the first thing you see is the back of the king-sized bed, which is rather unusual as most beds are placed against a wall.

But the owners wanted to wake up every morning to a view of lush green treetops and ships docked in the blue waters of the Singapore Strait, and they could do this only if their bed was placed facing the window, but not propped against a wall.

Designer Christopher Kwek of design-and-build consultancy Forward 50, says: "We designed a headboard that has storage and shelves for their books and knick-knacks.

"So you see the back of the bed when you walk into the bedroom, but the owners get the best view."

The owners, a couple who declined to be identified, also tested the height of the bed frame with the mattress on it to make sure they could get a clear view of the sea just by propping themselves on their pillows.

To further take advantage of the view, instead of having all the window panels in the same size,

Mr Kwek, 40, had a bigger panel installed in the middle, with two smaller ones at the sides.

As the owners were concerned about noise from the traffic on the expressway next to the condominium, the windows were doubleglazed.

While the view outside is picturesque, the apartment's interior design has sleek written all over it.

Part art gallery, part retro homage, it is a perfect composition of a variety of materials and spaces.

Instead of keeping the original three bedrooms, Mr Kwek, who has worked on projects such as Warner Music Singapore's office in Bukit Merah, knocked down most of the walls. There is just one bedroom now.

With the open space, he created various nooks - all decorated with artwork. For instance, at the entrance foyer, a print by celebrated Brazilian photojournalist Sebastiao Salgado hangs on a timber slatted wall which hides a shoe cabinet.

The entertaining area, the first communal spot in the house that guests see, is helmed by a built-in walnut-and-teak shelf filled with an eclectic mix of pieces by avant-garde artists such as Chinese sculptor and painter Lu Zhengyuan and Singaporean multimedia artist Sookoon Ang.

Mr Kwek says: "The lights in the shelf shine inwards so it's less harsh on the eyes and the art pieces get the spotlight."

The owners were also big on using natural materials that were popular in the 1960s and 1970s, though they kept the lines modern, so the design still looks contemporary.

The television room has dark, stained herringbone-patterned flooring, while a lighter version is used in the bedroom. The ceilings and columns are clad in wood, lending a masculine vibe to the home.

The walk-in wardrobe has green marble floor tiles with white, fluid streaks, while a wall in the dry kitchen screams Miami retro, with vintage-glazed jade ceramic tiles set against a Black Marquina marble breakfast bar.

One of the owners, a 48-year-old medical professional, says: "We grew up in the 1970s, so there's a strong emotional and visual imprint of the decor of that era.

"We also love mid-century architecture, art and furniture, but took care not to overwhelm the look with them."

They bought only one new piece of furniture - a big L-shaped sofa around which the television room was built. The rest of the pieces, except for the built-in furniture, came from their previous homes.

The renovation, which cost $350,000, took four months to plan and six months to carry out.

Much attention was paid to the details, even when it came to the bathroom, where the walls are lined with luxurious Italianproduced Palissandro Tigrato marble. The couple each have their own wash-basins and the spacious shower and toilet areas are separated.

Mr Kwek says: "The owners travel a lot and were inspired by hotels where such a design is not unusual. The wall is a nice feature in the bathroom and makes for a dramatic entrance."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 24, 2015, with the headline 'Retro chic'. Print Edition | Subscribe