The Chic Home: Small, stylish bachelor pad with classy hotel vibes

Educator Keith Kum wanted the home to resemble some of his favourite hotels,  with a black-and-white colour scheme and dark furnishings.
Educator Keith Kum wanted the home to resemble some of his favourite hotels, with a black-and-white colour scheme and dark furnishings.PHOTO: SPH MAGAZINES; ART DIRECTION: NONIE CHEN

SINGAPORE - When Mr Christopher Lum purchased this one-bedder condominium unit near Clementi, he already had a clear vision of the interior design and who to execute it.

The educator in the private sector, who is in his 30s, got his first job as a marketing executive at interior design firm Distinct Identity.

"I went to them for the design as I trust their eye," says the bachelor, who worked on the renovation with Mr Keith Kum, one of the firm's co-founders.

Mr Lum chose the 463 sq ft apartment because it sits in a quiet neighbourhood of mostly landed houses, which offers an uninterrupted view.

He wanted the home to resemble some of his favourite hotels - both local institutions like Raffles Hotel and overseas ones he had stayed at before the pandemic - with a black-and-white colour scheme and dark furnishings.

A dark colour scheme can create an intimate and contemporary look, but can also make a home feel smaller than its actual square footage. Mr Kum cleverly subverted this by strategically mixing black surfaces and furniture with whites and natural wood finishes. The carpentry is kept clean and light, so the overall effect feels airy.

Instead of a conventional dining table that would have taken up more space, Mr Lum requested for a multi-functional breakfast counter for an unobstructed view of the living and dining space that stretches from the entrance to the balcony.

"I've always liked the kitchen island communal concept instead of formal sit-down dining," says Mr Lum.

The glossy black quartz countertop is cantilevered to a slim base placed on the wall to create visual lightness, so it appears as a thin line from the side. This is also Mr Lum's favourite spot to work at.

All the furniture was bought new or custom-made by Distinct Identity. The store-bought items were picked by Mr Lum, including a coffee table from Hay, a pendant light from Flos, several items from BoConcept, as well as black switches and door handles.

Playing a prominent role in the home's handsome look is a dark laminate with wood grain from Lamitak. Mr Lum says: "It's near black, but not so black that you can't appreciate the grain of the wood texture."

The carpentry design is flush with the wall, deliberately making the bathroom door look like a cabinet.


Playing a prominent role in the home's handsome look is a dark laminate with wood grain from Lamitak. PHOTO: SPH MAGAZINES; ART DIRECTION: NONIE CHEN

The bedroom features a woodsy black-and-white material palette, and a custom open wardrobe is finished with the same laminate. The condominium developer had initially provided the space for a vanity, but Mr Lum chose to use it for the wardrobe instead.

"I like everything arranged neatly where I can see them," he says.


The simple design of the bedroom gives it a casual yet cosy vibe. PHOTO: SPH MAGAZINES; ART DIRECTION: NONIE CHEN

The unit is Mr Lum's second property. His first was a HDB flat in Hougang. He spent around $30,000 on the new furniture and renovation, which was completed in three weeks, before the circuit breaker started.

He moved into the home in March last year, but has recently sold it and acquired another private property in Tampines. And he knows exactly how he wants to renovate that one as well.

  • This article first appeared in the August 2021 issue of Home & Decor, which is published by SPH Magazines. Get the October 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.