Home of treasures

A lounger in the master bedroom provides a cosy reading spot, which is furnished by various pieces from Raffles Hotel. These were procured by the owner before the hotel underwent renovation.
A lounger in the master bedroom provides a cosy reading spot, which is furnished by various pieces from Raffles Hotel. These were procured by the owner before the hotel underwent renovation. PHOTO: SPH MAGAZINES; ART DIRECTION: KRISTY QUAH
Almost floor-to-ceiling windows at the living area let in plenty of natural light and also offer panoramic views from the apartment.
Almost floor-to-ceiling windows at the living area let in plenty of natural light and also offer panoramic views from the apartment.PHOTO: SPH MAGAZINES; ART DIRECTION: KRISTY QUAH
Almost floor-to-ceiling windows at the living area let in plenty of natural light and also offer panoramic views from the apartment.
Almost floor-to-ceiling windows at the living area let in plenty of natural light and also offer panoramic views from the apartment.PHOTO: SPH MAGAZINES; ART DIRECTION: KRISTY QUAH
Items retained from the owner’s childhood or bought during her travels dot the apartment, giving the space a personalised touch.
Items retained from the owner’s childhood or bought during her travels dot the apartment, giving the space a personalised touch.PHOTO: SPH MAGAZINES; ART DIRECTION: KRISTY QUAH

A fashion business owner has styled her rental apartment with vintage pieces that each has a story

When fashion business owner Elyn Wong and her partner, a doctor, embarked on their search for a rental apartment, they had only one criterion - it must have a huge balcony.

The couple viewed countless apartments that met the requirement but, somehow, they all felt wrong.

Ironically, the four-bedroom unit at Draycott Park was the only one without a balcony, but they fell in love with it at first sight.

"We both love the unusual round layout and I personally find older developments more charming and spacious," she says. The couple moved in in June last year.

Selecting suitable furniture and furnishings - which cost about $80,000 - took four months, including a trip to Milan, but many of the pieces in the 2,600 sq ft home are part of her collection. All of them have a story and many of them also have a history.

Ms Wong, 42, confesses her love of all things vintage, which may have begun with treasure-hunting trips to the Sungei Road market that she and her father used to go on when she was a child.

The showstopper in the apartment is an oversized flora and foliage centrepiece from floral concierge service This Humid House, which replaces the arrangement every two months. It takes centre stage in the original dining area just beyond the entrance foyer.

The dried flowers, plants and palms arranged in a random manner will stop visitors in their tracks. "I feel guilty about using fresh-cut flowers, so I chose this alternative instead," says Ms Wong, who spent 16 years as an advertising creative.

Almost a decade into her advertising career, she decided to start her own fashion label, Stolen. After seven years juggling her job and business, she devoted full attention to Stolen five years ago.

She also initiated Stolen Alliances, an annual installation art project in collaboration with home-grown artists.

Her support for local works is apparent in her home, which is decorated with pieces such as calligraphy by Cultural Medallion recipient Lim Tze Peng, paintings of local buildings by Alicia Tan and ceramics finished with ammunition powder by Leng.

Why did you decide to take on the interior design yourself?

No one knows me better than myself and I love to inject my personality into my home.

What is the design concept?

We did not want it to be a singular style, but we knew the eventual style would very much revolve around my vintage furniture collection. We also did not want the apartment looking like something from a typical magazine spread.

What brief and other requirements did you set?

We set a budget because it is a rented place. We wanted it to be an extension of us as individuals, celebrating all our vintage pieces, and with us showing support for all the local and Asian artists we like.

How did you go about conceptualising the scheme?

I stayed true to what I really like, not what is popular or famous.

Picking a colour or material theme is a good starting point.

I love brass, wood, crystals and the colours gold and green, so I consciously selected other elements that would work well with these and not overpower one another.

As my vintage collection comprises statement pieces, I went with more modern and simple lines for new furnishings.

How does your home reflect your taste and lifestyle?

We travel extensively and I tend to buy vintage pieces wherever I go, so a lot of my journeys can be traced through items placed at home.

What was the biggest challenge?

I tend to hoard things because everything has sentimental value.

What are some advantages of designing your own home?

The authenticity and personal touch to everything.

Every decision you make, and every choice of furniture, has a story, which will add 10,000 times more charm to the actual pieces.

What are some lessons learnt from this experience?

It is too easy to get distracted with buying too many small items.

In my opinion, the sofa and dining table are the two anchoring pieces for any home.

Can you share some tips for home owners who wish to design their own home?

Limit yourself to three main colours, even right down to small items like the broom and fruit plates.

It is easy for your painstakingly well-planned home to look cluttered with unplanned small items that do not complement the bigger scheme.

Also, make sure that your home looks like your home and not somebody else's.

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

• Get the May 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 www.homeanddecor.com.sg

Almost floor-to-ceiling windows at the living area (top and above) let in plenty of natural light and also offer panoramic views from the apartment. Items retained from the owner's childhood or bought during her travels dot the apartment, giving the

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 18, 2019, with the headline 'Home of treasures'. Print Edition | Subscribe