THE CHIC HOME

Vintage shophouse, modern living

Night Owl Cinematics' Sylvia Chan and her brother recreate their childhood home

Bright, earthy and natural. These are the impressions visitors get upon stepping into this shophouse owned by Ms Sylvia Chan, chief executive of media production company Night Owl Cinematics, and her 28-year-old brother Chan Sichen.

They moved into the unit, located in central Singapore, in February after a three-month renovation.

Filled with plenty of sunlight and a plethora of plants - more than 50 of them - the house is a biophiliac's dream, says Ms Chan, 33.

The siblings, who share the 1,700 sq ft home with a cat and a dog, modelled the shophouse after their childhood kampung home.

"There was no blueprint," Ms Chan says with a laugh.

Still, the home turned out to be an authentic reflection of both their personalities.

What was your vision for the home?

It is a shophouse, so we wanted to keep the traditional elements intact while adding a modern twist.

One of my inspirations was my old Peranakan kampung house, which had an open roof.

For this house, we removed the roof tiles, and used glass and UV film in their place to let in air and light. We also added to the exterior wall modern Peranakan tiles that complement the original 1920s floor tiles, and kept the old pintu pagar (fence doors).

What is your favourite space?

The kitchen. It is as authentic as it is functional and aesthetically pleasing. I am so pleased that we managed to recreate the open-roof concept of my previous home. I do not think I have ever seen another shophouse with a glass roof in its yard.

I never need to switch on the lights in the daytime and it is beautiful when it rains.

Everyone hangs out in the kitchen - family, colleagues and guests. It takes me back to my childhood.

How did you decide on the colour palette and furnishings?

I wanted it clean, bright and neutral. Although I love colours, white is the most versatile and functional.

I also like wood and rattan elements. Although they may be more contemporary, they still fit into the Peranakan aesthetic.

All four bathrooms are black and white, but have different tiles that I picked out. While they share a monochromatic, minimal vibe, a closer look reveals details unique to each one.

Did your work influence your design?

Definitely. It is functional and adaptable for different uses. In the middle are photography and live-streaming studios, as well as an editing room.

We also needed plenty of storage space and have concealed some of it under the staircase behind two shelves from local furniture brand Commune, which are roomy while maintaining an old-school vintage aesthetic. 

• This article first appeared in the June 2021 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 homeanddecor.com.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 28, 2021, with the headline 'Vintage shophouse, modern living'. Subscribe