SINGAPORE - The alchemy of a good home often comes down to the chemistry between its owner and interior designer.
Fortunately for marketing manager Nate Chong, that chemistry has been cultivated by years of being housemates with interior designer Jerry Tan, from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur-based studio Ally Wong Interior.
"Since we were housemates before, Jerry already understood my style and what I wanted for my future home," says Mr Chong, 38, who moved into the flat in January last year.
The 1,000-sq ft four-room resale Housing Board flat in Sengkang took two months and $98,000 to renovate. It retains all three of its existing bedrooms, but altered nearly all the finishing materials and storage spaces.
The resulting industrial aesthetic features a dark material palette that balances finishes with wabi-sabi patina with sleek details that range from pragmatic to playful.
"During our initial discussions, Nate only emphasised the need to make good use of space," says Mr Tan. "Every corner and the placement of each furniture piece needed to be meaningful."
Some of the requests were a wall shelf in the living room for Mr Chong's book collection, a shoe cabinet to separate the living room and the entrance, and storage for the bedrooms that would not make the spaces feel narrow.
In fulfilling these, Mr Tan took cues from Mr Chong's taste for the raw and edgy. Upon walking in, a matte-black front door with wire mesh accent sets the vibe. A shoe cabinet sporting concrete-like laminate with a subtle geometric pattern hides the dining and living area - an open space anchored by matte-black details, such as the furniture bases, lighting fixtures and wall-mounted bookshelves.
A mirror panel installed on the back of the shoe cabinet makes the room feel twice its size. Bookshelves are kept open; the legs of the sofa, coffee table, dining table and chairs taper off; and the dining room pendant lights feature metallic graphic lines.
The cement screed wall and wood-textured floor take the industrial feel up a notch, while a soft knitted throw, textured tufted carpet and blue armchair lend cosiness.
The kitchen and two bathrooms sport the same industrial look, with ribbed glass, vintage lighting fixtures, and tiles and laminates that mimic the textures of marble, concrete and wood.
Here and there are playful rabbit knick-knacks, a tribute to Mr Chong's mother, who often visits from Malaysia and stays in a corner bedroom dressed in a palette of sage green and dusty pink.
The other common bedroom, which is occupied by a tenant, features a full storage wall. The bed is elevated on a platform that offers more storage and a study nook. The fully glazed window provides natural light for an airy feel.
For the master bedroom, one side is dedicated to a wardrobe. The bed is elevated on a storage platform with roomy compartments that fit anything from clothes to luggage.
As Mr Chong has a large collection of clothes, bags and accessories, a walk-in wardrobe topped the list of things he wanted in his home.
Mr Tan devised a display cabinet made with smoke-tinted glass and a matte-black aluminium frame, fitted with warm LED lights for a soft glow, to showcase Mr Chong's favourite bags and accessories.
Referring to a space next to the bed occupied by a low table on which a plant is placed, he says: "This bedroom provides both a zen corner where I can relax and decompress and it also provides a corner for my bag collection."
He says the small size of the cabinet has made him more selective about what he buys and "to choose quality over quantity".
The same could be said for the flat itself, which provides space for quality time without sacrificing style.
• This article first appeared in the February 2021 issue of Home & Decor, which is published by SPH Magazines. Get the March 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 homeand decor.com.sg