Home & Decor (Malaysia) - - Contents -

A nat­u­ral chem­istry with the de­signer made this ren­o­va­tion easy and fun

for the home­own­ers.

The best cre­ative col­lab­o­ra­tion is of­ten one where there is a meet­ing of minds, fu­elled by a healthy bounc­ing around of ideas. In the case of this home­owner cou­ple and their de­signer, th­ese el­e­ments seemed to click in place from the get-go.

For their mat­ri­mo­nial home, Alvin Chua and his fi­ancee Elaine Hee knew they wanted “some­thing that rep­re­sents our per­son­al­i­ties”. They chose to in­clude colours such as red, blue, and con­trast­ing white and black for in­stance, to match their “dy­namic and loud” personas. The out­go­ing cou­ple, who both work in the oil in­dus­try, were not keen on a cookie-cut­ter look, and were also look­ing for­ward to host­ing friends at home. They started their home decor mis­sion by scour­ing the In­ter­net for ideas. Through sort­ing out the im­ages they down­loaded, the pair re­alised they seem to grav­i­tate to­wards “Amer­i­can coun­try-style dec­o­ra­tions” as well as a vin­tage feel.

The next step was get­ting the right de­signer. The cou­ple met more than 10 prospects be­fore find­ing a match in Vin­cent Neo of Ver­saform. The cou­ple liked that the de­signer lis­tened to their

ideas and of­fered con­struc­tive crit­i­cism while mak­ing sure they un­der­stood the pros and cons of their re­quire­ments, and built upon them. Their unas­sum­ing de­signer replies mod­estly, “I sim­ply guided them along.”


To make room for en­ter­tain­ing friends and rel­a­tives, the cou­ple ini­tially wanted to knock down the kitchen wall and that of one bed­room to ex­pand the liv­ing space. Vin­cent’s ad­vice was to open up the kitchen, but carve out a large win­dow in the bed­room wall in­stead. This would bring nat­u­ral light and a sense of spa­cious­ness to the once-dark din­ing and liv­ing area, yet pre­serve some pri­vacy when Alvin’s mum comes to stay.

The de­signer’s ini­tial pro­posal of cladding the kitchen floor in black-and-white hon­ey­comb mo­saic tiles would only have made the com­pact apart­ment look smaller and too seg­re­gated, the cou­ple thought. So, the cre­ative trio brain­stormed and adopted the ma­te­rial for the kitchen back­splash in­stead, which cre­ates a strik­ing fea­ture.

As Alvin and Elaine weren’t keen on over­head kitchen cab­i­nets, Vin­cent had to con­sider al­ter­na­tive stor­age so­lu­tions. A boxy is­land counter hous­ing draw­ers with stag­gered heights (shal­low ones for cutlery at the top to deep draw­ers at the bot­tom for pots) serves this pur­pose. Clad in ba­sic white square ce­ramic tiles, the retro look of the is­land com­ple­ments the vin­tage-in­spired mo­saic back­splash.

Alvin liked the idea of hav­ing a wine rack for bot­tles and glasses. Vin­cent took it a step fur­ther by cre­at­ing a de­sign with el­e­ments rem­i­nis­cent of old-school win­dow grilles. Sus­pended over the is­land, this cus­tomised piece is both func­tional and dec­o­ra­tive at the same time.


De­tails were im­por­tant to the cou­ple, as they felt they were es­sen­tial in evok­ing the mod­ern­rus­tic vibe they wanted. The red brick fea­ture wall in the liv­ing room was a must for them. Like­wise a black­board wall – which Vin­cent added a mag­netic el­e­ment to, for putting up pic­tures. The cou­ple also made it a point to get match­ing red crock­ery and kitchen ap­pli­ances.

Another thing the cou­ple liked about the ren­o­va­tion process with Vin­cent – he shopped reg­u­larly with them, to en­sure they bought the right fur­ni­ture for the look they wanted. “He also bar­gained with the shop own­ers to get us the best deal!” quips Alvin. They went to places such as Like That One for the in­dus­tri­alchic din­ing and cof­fee ta­bles, and Com­fort De­sign for the eclec­tic, mis­matched din­ing chairs.

The ren­o­va­tion took about seven weeks in all. “It was won­der­ful that Elaine and I had zero ar­gu­ments be­tween our­selves, or with our de­signer through­out the whole process!” says Alvin.

The monochro­matic kitchen is spiced up with ap­pli­ances in cheery shades of red.

A mus­tard-yel­low Brother type­writer be­comes a retro prop in the liv­ing room. be­low Large slid­ing win­dows al­low a spare bed­room to be opened up to the liv­ing area, or closed for pri­vacy.

The idea for the wardrobe doors was sparked by a slat­ted wood di­vider the home­own­ers saw in Vin­cent’s of­fice. be­low Like the wardrobe, the slid­ing mir­ror frame and be­low-sink cab­i­net are raw ply­wood.

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