Paul and Elsa Seah, a lawyer and high school teacher living in Singapore, turned a 925-square-foot government housing flat—complete with bomb shelter—into a sleek but cozy home. The challenge, says Paul, was to be faithful to the prefab, concrete roots of the space and still have a comfortable, well-designed apartment. "I have always been a fan of the industrial-minimalist look," he says, "but I also really like mid-century modern furniture and the Scandinavian aesthetic. I wanted to see if we could meld all these styles without having too much of a mish-mash."
A concrete screed floor connects the open plan living and dining rooms and helps keeps the apartment cool. The white Cineline console from Ligne Roset holds the Seahs' AVR, DVD, and CD players. The sofa, another Ligne Roset purchase, is by designer Philip Nigro and the Clock clock is from Oggimai, an Italian company.
Every Singapore high-rise household has a bomb-shelter enclosed behind a blast-proof door—inevitably an eyesore. The Seahs covered the entire wall with mirrors. This solution increased the sense of space and played up the apartment's natural lighting. The shelter houses Elsa's shoes, the vacuum cleaner and the wine fridge.
During a trip to Australia, the Seahs were smitten by the "Party" photo-print hanging in a Bondi restaurant. They met the artist, Murray Hilton (that's him in the cape in the photo), and came home with the print.
The white glass table is from Bontempi Case and is extendable. By co-opting the settee (in the first image) and some folding chairs, the Seahs can comfortably seat 10 to 12 dinner guests. The single-blade fan, an Australian design, is more energy efficient than air conditioning.
The Seahs love to cook, so wanted maximum counter space as well as plenty of storage. They had to sacrifice two drawers and two cabinets in order to accommodate a microwave and an oven. Virtually all of their appliances are energy-efficient models.
In order to compensate for the storage space given over to the oven and microwave, the Seahs added a metal bar to hang spoons, spatulas and tongs.
This specially fabricated metal trolley does double duty as a table and holds pots, cutlery, glassware and Paul's 25-year-old Strathisla single malt scotch.
To keep their bedroom as a refuge, the Seahs banned TV and computers. They hung a thick dividing curtain between the sleeping and wardrobe areas (see next photo) to "add a bit more drama and intimacy," says Paul.
The Togo lounge chair by Michel Ducaroy for Ligne Roset "is the most comfortable seat in the house," Paul says. The Coupe Lamp is by Joe Colombo for Oluce, one of Paul's favorite mid-century designers.