The Chic Home: Rumah Bebe owner's condo celebrates Peranakan heritage

The timber slats that run around the ceiling draw the eye up, emphasising the height of the room. PHOTO: SPH MAGAZINES WITH ART DIRECTION BY NONIE CHEN
A generously sized dining counter, custom-made and overlaid with Calacatta marble. PHOTO: SPH MAGAZINES WITH ART DIRECTION BY NONIE CHEN
The entryway that houses a few antique pieces, as well as a door that conceals the entrance to the store room. PHOTO: SPH MAGAZINES WITH ART DIRECTION BY NONIE CHEN
Bebe's vintage cabinets sit flush against the rest of the carpentry. PHOTO: SPH MAGAZINES WITH ART DIRECTION BY NONIE CHEN
Gold fixtures pair well with the intricate florals of the basin. PHOTO: SPH MAGAZINES WITH ART DIRECTION BY NONIE CHEN
As Ms Seet washes several of her garments by hand, she requested a large sink that had separate compartments. PHOTO: SPH MAGAZINES WITH ART DIRECTION BY NONIE CHEN

SINGAPORE - Moving into this two-bedroom condominium apartment in Amber Road marked the start of a new chapter for 72-year-old Bebe Seet, founder and owner of Katong-based Peranakan heritage boutique Rumah Bebe, which also serves homemade Nonya food.

The 1,612 sq ft home, whichshe shares with her helper, is a mix of Peranakan heritage, resort elements and old-world charm.

Ms Seet engaged her friend and designer Oz Titus - who also has Peranakan heritage and had previously helped make over her store - to put together the look for her apartment.

To complement the antique pieces Ms Seet had amassed over the years, Mr Titus chose a neutral palette accented by open-pore cerused wood veneers. The cerusing emphasises the wood grain, making it a beautiful backdrop to showcase vintage pieces.

In the foyer, the wood creates a warm and intimate vestibule that welcomes visitors before opening up into the living and dining areas. Layers subtly define each area. The ceiling structure changes and rises as one moves from the dining area to the living room, a feature emphasised by the use of wooden slats that run around the perimeter of the living room ceiling.

Maintaining cohesiveness was important in a home with several intricate pieces of furniture. The wooden shutter doors leading to the master bedroom, for instance, echo the wooden slats in the living room. And though each bathroom has its own personality, the look is tied together by a quatrefoil motif in the window grilles, walking a fine line between minimalist and retro.

The wardrobe doors are covered in vivid floral hand-painted silk from Just Anthony, while the master bathroom showcases a tableau of tropical jungle life on custom wallpaper by Craft Axis. These complement Ms Seet's Peranakan-style home accessories, which are often painted or embroidered by hand with intricate florals.

One of Ms Seet's priorities was for the home to be age-proof and accessible. To achieve this, Mr Titus levelled the flooring, switched the guest bathroom's swing door to a sliding door, added shower seats and ensured there were no awkward corners.

The owner's favourite space is the living and dining area. A large dining counter, custom-made and overlaid with Calacatta marble, is where her loved ones can gather. The table pays homage to the concept of Tok Panjang, the Peranakan custom of having an extravagant feast laid out over a long table for friends and family to eat together.

She also loves sitting in the living area, surrounded by her favourite antiques and doing beadwork with a view of the pool. "This space is so cosy and you can see everything that's going on," she says. "I love doing my work here - it's a place where I can relax."

Ms Seet's collection of beaded slippers, an icon of Peranakan culture. PHOTO: SPH MAGAZINES WITH ART DIRECTION BY NONIE CHEN
  • This article first appeared in the July 2022 issue of Home & Decor, which is published by SPH Magazines. Get the August 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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