When Ms Yvonne Gan, 35, and her husband bought their 30th-floor condominium unit at Sherwood Towers in Bukit Timah, the floors were cracking and the walls leaking.
But it did not matter to Ms Gan, an interior designer, as it meant she could totally refurbish the place and design it the way she wanted, which was a modern Victorian style.
Instead of the more classic Victorian style, which has a lighter palette with ornate wall mouldings, Ms Gan went for a bolder look, with a heavy use of black and gold and textured wallpaper.
Her husband Victor Lim, 38, a civil servant, also prefers the look as "it is edgy". Ms Gan says: "We adopted a creative reinterpretation of the Victorian style with a bold, modern overlay."
Enter the 1,632 sq ft apartment and one is greeted by a dining room decked in black and gold and backed by a brown, pony-hair textured wallpaper.
A chandelier hanging above the mahogany-wood dining table with a black-tinted glass top adds to the elegant look.
The design aesthetic extends to the master bathroom and kitchen. The walls are covered with black tiles, the cabinets are a glossy black and there is a design feature using gold mosaic tiles.
While Ms Gan acknowledges that black is not a common colour for a kitchen, she is fond of it.
"We tried our best to find things that were black and gold to fit the whole theme."
But with three children aged three to seven - the couple have two boys and a girl - Ms Gan still wanted the space to feel "homely and cosy".
Safety was also a consideration. Furniture with rounded edges were chosen and safety grilles were installed for the windows, sacrificing an otherwise uninterrupted view of the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.
"We need to be practical and safe for our kids," says Dr Lim.
The couple spent $138,000 on furnishings and renovation, including redoing the electric wiring, building a false ceiling and reflooring.
The renovation took about two months to complete and the family moved in in October 2013.
Although the apartment has three bedrooms, the close-knit family shares the master bedroom.
Explains Ms Gan: "Falling asleep at night and waking up in the morning with the kids are precious moments of bonding. They grow up too quickly."
One of the rooms has been converted into a playroom, where the walls are painted with blue skies and fluffy clouds. The plan is for her two elder sons to share the room when they are older.
The couple have also carved out nooks for themselves without having to shut their children out. There are barstools and a small counter for evening drinks in a corner of the apartment.
Mr Lim also requested that the study have a glass wall. "It is very easy to shut ourselves in another room, but the glass wall allows the kids to always see us and let them know that we are accessible.
"It is not exactly private, but I still get my personal space."
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