The neighbourhood of terrace houses sit idle and undisturbed for years – rows of tightly-packed houses like grandparents sitting side by side since the 1960s when they were first built. They too grew old and tired, their eyes picked for any new residents moving to the estate; their creaking bodies waiting for an event to happen. In their fronts, paint flaked wrought iron gates with floral motifs (ala art nouveau traditions harking from trends long gone) swing open to private potted gardens surrounded by chain linked fences. A rusty bicycle may be spotted in a garden here and there. But a new resident has taken root on a unit on the second floor of one of these houses, its secrets hidden behind the facades of the grandparent-houses. Only a door of steel and glass – marked by the diagonals of the unit numbers – allowed glimpses through to a flight of stairs beyond. This is the entrance to the designer loft in Singapore.
It is owned by a pair of young entrepreneurs, Jed and Michelle, whose businesses are in the fitness and children's education industries. They met a decade ago during their university days and have since discovered a common love for children, fitness and travel. They have found themselves backpacking their way around Europe on a budget, souveniring big and small knick-knacks along the way that now sit in various parts of this home that they have built. While everyone doubted their all-too-controversial decision to take the entrepreneurship path, they have since defied the odds. Taking the route less travelled - that must be their mantra.
Eventually, Jed popped the question. During one of their travels, of course! He did so in Lake Tahoe, US, by Emerald Bay. The bottle of wine that they popped that dawn can still be found in their loft. The stories that it tells!
Finally, it was time to find a crib of their own. It took a year before they finally set their eyes on a pre-war duplex home in central Singapore, minutes from the Orchard Road shopping belt and a mere 7-minute drive from the centres they started for children. Again, they met with some disapproving comments as it was clearly old and run-down. It was dark; the sunlight could barely find its way into the home. But they saw just how much potential it had! Despite its proximity to one of the busiest areas on the island, this property is nestled in a quiet neighbourhood - perfect!
They later discovered Liu Guofeng - a local designer and architect- who was not a renowned one back then, young too, perhaps markedly less experienced than many in the industry. But there was a certain boldness in his work. He, too, seemed to enjoy taking the roads less travelled. The first meeting with him was filled with easy conversations and casual banter. Instantly, the pair knew they had to choose him to design this first home of theirs. The journey ahead was going to be long. Surely it had to be spent with someone who would make it enjoyable. He sure proved himself to be incredibly talented, bold and fun.
Jed and Michelle were clear about what they wanted - plenty of natural light let into the home, open spaces with as few partitions as it allowed, a high ceiling, exposed brickwork. Above all, it had to allow for parties with friends and family that would happen often. Having plans for children and being passionate about fitness also meant that there needed to be space for both. They also wanted plenty of storage space.
The open concept (the dining and living area). The clean white streak across the original pre-war brick wall gives the room a certain edge and modernity, blending old and new.
The coffee table has a rich history - the table top was a gem found in a vintage Danish store; it used to be used by a printing company in Denmark, to store the letterings. Metal legs were then customised for it to rest on, repurposing the letter-holder into a perfect coffee table. The owners love items with a story to tell.
The door handle was a precious find in Bangkok, Thailand. It's a beautiful piece of raw timber.
Not having enough space for a full walk-in wardrobe, this corridor in the master bedroom is flanked by full-height wardrobes, making it feel like a regular walk-in wardrobe!
Add your own project for the chance to be featured in Editor's Picks.
Most of the furniture was designed and customised. This was hand-made in Indonesia.
The original timber rafters were retained and repainted to give the home a unique fusion of old and new.
Before: The living and dining area.
Before: The stairway leading to the loft apartment.
One of the progress shots of the kitchen area before the magic began!
Before: This was the entrance to the duplex apartment. The wooden door had evident signs of wear and tear and could barely shut properly.
The exposed brickwork that date back to the pre-Japanese Occupation days. They don't make bricks like these anymore; they have the word "ASIA" on them.
The room with lots of natural light streaming in, to lounge in. It's a multi-purpose room - to exercise, to read in etc. All the wooden beams are original. The owners wished to retain the old charm of this pre-war home, while introducing new elements of modernity.
The masterbed room with crisp white linen, a copper bedside lamp from America and more exposed brickwork that flows from the dining and living areas. The wooden ceiling fan was hand-carried from Bangkok, Thailand.
Beside the plush sofa that's from King Living (an Australian brand), is a beautiful magazine holder that holds a vintage music note sheet that was discovered in a bag in our Danish friend's grandmother's country house. The notes were owned by a previous owner of the old house. Her name was Emelie. The Arco floor lamp with its silver and marble, adds a contemporary touch to the living room. Of course, a spot of green in the form of a fiddle leaf fig plant is the perfect addition to this part of the abode.
At the heart of the home is the kitchen area - an open concept - with contrasting black and white textured subway tiles for its backsplash against the deep blackness of the countertop. Colours are added with strategic placements of cookbooks, baking books, favourite novels and crockery. The bar stools at the island were both customised and made in Indonesia, their seats beautifully contoured and their legs in a classic shade of gold.
Clean lines give the bathroom a unique design. The ledges against the mirror allow the display of our favourite Jo Malone fragrances and soaps. The bamboo ladder was from Bali, Indonesia, where the owners got married in. It has been repurposed as a towel rack. All toilet fixtures are from Kohler and Bongio.
Repurposing what used to be a glass case for alcohol in Denmark.