Trained as an interior designer, home owner Wen Ng specialised in commercial projects in Taiwan and China before returning to Singapore in 2016 to join the family business.
When he and his wife Sheena, who are both in their 30s, bought their first home here, he knew he had to design it himself.
"Having worked in markets like Taiwan and China, I have been exposed to the big players and how versatile the design scene is. I was also going to source for many furniture pieces and materials overseas, so it would be easier to just do it myself," says Mr Ng, a businessman of Singaporean and Taiwanese descent.
He wanted to start on a clean slate as the apartment - a three-bedroom condominium in East Coast - was from the 1980s and in need of a major renovation.
Hence the floors, walls and ceiling were stripped bare and redone, the kitchen wall was removed and some of the awkward window openings were sealed up. Mr Ng even rewired the whole place.
He says: "I was inspired to create a contemporary French theme because I love Paris. I visit the French capital often as my sister lives there. It was also a challenge to see if I could pull off a French-style apartment in Singapore."
The design itself was conceptualised in just two weeks, but the renovation took three to four months to complete as certain materials, like the Belgium cornices, took some time to arrive. The couple moved into the 2,100 sq ft apartment in August 2018 and declined to reveal the cost of the renovation.
The most challenging aspect of the project was furniture sourcing. Mr Ng says: "It was time-consuming as I was not always able to find what I wanted at the right price."
But the efforts have paid off.
In the dining area, an acacia wood dining table with an unusual blush undertone is complemented by a set of pink Gubi Beetle dining chairs. Brass chair legs offer the first hint of a French accent.
The original kitchen wall is replaced with telescopic sliding glass doors to create an open plan and the kitchen now has a more contemporary treatment with a monochromatic grey and white palette. Miunn bar stools by Finnish designer Karri Monni for Italian brand Lapalma complete the set-up.
An existing beam between the dining and living areas has been designed as part of a frame that separates the two spaces while the herringbone flooring, light green walls and European elements - such as wainscoting and white ceiling mouldings - continue throughout.
"Many people associate white with the French, but light green walls are common in France," says Mr Ng, a father of a one-year-old girl.
Other pieces such as the coffee table and media console from French labels Maison Jansen and Ligne Roset accentuate the French theme in the living room.
Against one wall of the living room is a symmetrical composition that is "typical of the French".
Two Happy Hour armchairs from Italian label Flexform sit on either side of a Ligne Roset Oxydation side table. On the wall behind them, two Zenith wall sconces from Baccarat flank a reproduction of an oil painting called Strawberry On Tinfoil by Han Wu-lin, a relative of Mr Ng's.
Beyond a concealed door between the dining and living areas is the corridor leading to the bedrooms.
The most striking aspect is the lighting, which imbues an otherwise utilitarian space with an ethereal quality. Light concealed behind the door frames bathes the transitional space in a diffused glow and makes it appear more spacious.
Mr Ng says: "It is important to have a different hierarchy of lighting within the home. Using a combination of concealed lights, wall lights, downlights and pendant lights, you can vary the ambience of a space."
The master bedroom is an oasis of calm. The furniture is simple and minimal as Mr Ng does not want to clutter the space. He enclosed the existing narrow balcony and put it to much better use as a cosy alcove. In typical French style, the walk-in wardrobe and en-suite bathroom are hidden behind a concealed door.
For him, apart from crafting an interior with a contemporary French theme, it is also about creating different vibes within different zones. He believes that "every space you sit in should feel like a different home" and that people should be mindful about looking out from a space, instead of just looking at it.
"If it looks right from where you are seated, it will most probably look right from the outside in," he concludes.
• This article first appeared in the September 2020 issue of Home & Decor, which is published by SPH Magazines.
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