The Chic Home: DIY-savvy couple build dream home

The couple went for a contemporary style utilising clean lines to reflect a subtle sophistication. PHOTO: HOME & DECOR

SINGAPORE - Stepping into this detached home of a couple in their 30s and their two young daughters, it is hard to believe the well-appointed interior of this 7,500 sq ft house is entirely their creation.

Considering its size and location off Dunearn Road, the renovation - which took about 18 months - was a gargantuan undertaking for an oil trader and housewife with no background in architecture, design or construction.

As the couple - who did not wish to be named - knew what materials, finishes and colours they wanted, they saw no need to work with a middleman. They worked directly with a builder and his sub-contractors, as well as a structural engineer.

"We adopted a functional approach while designing it around our lifestyle," the wife says. "That said, we also wanted the design to have flair, so we went for a contemporary style utilising clean lines to reflect a subtle sophistication."

The two-storey property - which the couple moved into in 2017 - was in relatively good condition and needed only minor renovations.

However, they wanted to extend the side of the house and add an attic. They also reconfigured the kitchen and living room as they did not like having the kitchen at the front of the house.

Other spaces they introduced were an entertainment room, a playroom and a library.

The cost of the project amounted to $1.18 million, including built-in carpentry, and excluding the property's purchase price and cost of furnishings.

Except for the dining table, the bed frame and lounge seat in the master bedroom, which were purchased off the rack, everything else - from the sofas and beds to the bathtubs, chandeliers and ceiling speakers - was painstakingly sourced and imported.

The owners decided to scout for the furnishings themselves because of the smorgasbord of products available overseas.

Another reason, the wife says, is that they had "checked local furniture shops and discovered the more unique pieces had to be indented or imported, and that meant long waiting times and reseller margins".

She adds that it was never about going for the cheapest option, but "about being resourceful and getting value for our money".

The couple are avid collectors of artworks by Lim Tze Peng, and their favourite is this calligraphy piece with a single character, "国"(country), which takes pride of place by the staircase. PHOTO: HOME & DECOR
The Taylor B bed frame, the sofa, the chaise lounge and the statement chandelier in the master bedroom evoke a Ralph Lauren sense of style, while the free-standing bathtub, pendant glass globes and an ottoman make the master bathroom an indulgent sanctuary. PHOTO: HOME & DECOR
A chandelier gives the master suite's walk-in wardrobe, with doors upholstered in a single length of fabric, a luxe feel. PHOTO: HOME & DECOR

Doing it all themselves was not without its challenges. There was constant planning, researching, decision-making and executing.

"Apart from the approval of floor plans and details such as the position of switches and downlights, we also had to regularly monitor the construction process to ensure our instructions to the workers were not lost in translation," she says.

She watched YouTube tutorials so she could plot their interior designs in 3D and map out furniture sizes and placements.

Although it was a challenging process, the owners say they would do it again for their next home.

The older daughter's room comes complete with a castle bed, fit for a princess. PHOTO: HOME & DECOR
The inspiration for the younger daughter's room is from Pottery Barn, with a floor bed and canopy referencing a glamping theme. A fish-themed wall feature acted as the starting point for the guest room's interior design. PHOTOS: HOME & DECOR
Built-in furniture clad in ebony veneer gives the entertainment room a gentlemen's club ambience. PHOTO: HOME & DECOR

The lady of the house enjoyed the process so much that she enrolled in an interior design course specialising in perspective construction, rendering and 3D computer modelling at Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts.

She has since started her own interior design company, Interiors by JCB, to help others design their dream home.

She advises home owners: "Do not be paralysed by the plethora of decisions and options. Do your research beforehand and anticipate the big decisions.

"Also, be realistic about the move-in date. And, most importantly, enjoy the process."

The owners seized the opportunity to alter the house's facade to match the new design. PHOTO: HOME & DECOR
The library's double volume height and skylight make it the perfect reading spot. PHOTO: HOME & DECOR
Many of the items in the house were painstakingly sourced and imported. PHOTOS: HOME & DECOR

• This article first appeared in the March 2021 issue of Home & Decor, which is published by SPH Magazines. Get the April and latest issue of Home & Decor now at all newsstands or download the digital edition of Home & Decor from the App Store, Magzter or Google Play. Also, see more inspiring homes at Home & Decor's website.

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