THE CHIC APARTMENT: KEEP MINE COOL

Chesterfield sofa sparks decor idea

Mr Ray Tay and his wife Janet Khoo (both above, with their son Xander) bought a dark brown leather Chesterfield sofa and designed their industrial-classic retro home (left) around it. A half-height cabinet near the window in the master bedroom (left)
Mr Ray Tay and his wife Janet Khoo bought a dark brown leather Chesterfield sofa and designed their industrial-classic retro home around it. PHOTO: TIFFANY GOH FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
Mr Ray Tay and his wife Janet Khoo (both above, with their son Xander) bought a dark brown leather Chesterfield sofa and designed their industrial-classic retro home (left) around it. A half-height cabinet near the window in the master bedroom (left)
Mr Ray Tay and his wife Janet Khoo (both above, with their son Xander) bought a dark brown leather Chesterfield sofa and designed their industrial-classic retro home around it. PHOTO: TIFFANY GOH FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
Mr Ray Tay and his wife Janet Khoo (both above, with their son Xander) bought a dark brown leather Chesterfield sofa and designed their industrial-classic retro home (left) around it. A half-height cabinet near the window in the master bedroom (left)
A half-height cabinet near the window in the master bedroom doubles as a seat.PHOTO: DISTINCT IDENTITY

Life kicks off this fortnightly column, featuring tastefully done up interiors, with three unique abodes

While most home owners start with an overall theme for their home, married couple Ray Tay and Janet Khoo designed their home around a Chesterfield sofa.

The dark brown leather beauty caught their eye when they started shopping for furniture about two years ago. It was the first piece they bought from furniture store Locus Habitat.

Mr Tay, 31, a recruitment consultant, says while most home owners shy away from buying a bulky sofa, the couple felt the piece, which cost about $5,000, fit in with the industrial-classic retro theme they liked.

"Not many would want to buy a Chesterfield because it's hard to maintain and is not a kid-friendly piece. But for us, it gave us ideas of how we wanted to do up our home. The entire design concept was done to fit in the sofa."

The couple, who have a two- year-old son Xander, worked with Mr Low Chin En, 24, from interior design firm Distinct Identity to renovate their four-room HDB flat in Tampines Central.

To create a retro industrial- classic look, various beams - arranged to look like a giant frame against a green chalkboard-paint wall - are covered in a laminate so they look like steel beams.

Cupboards within the frame resemble crates with their wood-like laminate.

Across the room stands a half- finished exposed brick wall which serves as a backdrop to their Chesterfield sofa. Ms Khoo, 31, a civil servant, says: "The wall has become a conversation piece among our guests. They joke that we had no money to finish the wall."

Jokes aside, the raw look fits in perfectly with the industrial theme of their home, which cost them about $45,000 to do up. They did not change the layout of the 90 sq m Built-To-Order flat, which they moved into last October.

Another unique feature of their home: concealed storage and hidden doors.

A wall running the length of the hallway to the master bedroom is covered in wood laminate, with black lines outlining the doors to the storeroom and toilet.

In the couple's bedroom, their queen-size bed sits on a platform that conceals more storage space in the form of drawers that pull out from the base of the platform as well as a trapdoor-like handle that opens at the foot of the bed.

Mr Low, who is Distinct Identity's assistant manager in the innovation division, planned the storage spaces by working out what items the couple needed to stow away.

He made clever additions, too, such as the half-height cabinet near the window which does double duty. "As their room is too small to have a study table, they can sit on the half-height cabinet to read if they want to."

Explaining their desire for concealed storage, Ms Khoo says: "We wanted a lot of space for our bags and knick-knacks, but we didn't want them to be on display."

The couple bought lights and home accessories such as clocks and decals from Taobao, the mega online Chinese shopping website. They also turned wine crates into a CD storage rack for Mr Tay's large music collection.

For their child's room, the practical parents chose furniture such as cupboards and a convertible double-decker bed from Ikea that would accommodate two children in the future.

The couple say they were excited to see their home when the renovations were completed.

Says Ms Khoo: "To us, this industrial style will always be evergreen."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 18, 2015, with the headline 'Chesterfield sofa sparks decor idea'. Print Edition | Subscribe