Bohemian, hip and trendy, all in one home
How does one create a home with personality? In this apartment, it seems like a generous dose of handmade touches didn’t hurt. ISABELLE TOW has a chat with the DIY enthusiast who resides here.
H ome renovations typically take a few months, depending on the size of the property and the complexity of the works involved. But for Herman Yap’s three-room Housing Board flat in Telok Blangah Crescent, it was only after a year had passed that he was satisfied enough to stop all furnishing and finishing works.
In truth, the transformation of this Japanese zakka-concept abode – zakka meaning a mishmash of everyday objects to improve one’s life – happened in two phases. The first phase, which took over three months, involved an interior designer who helped with the foundational heavy-duty work such as installing the laminate flooring, kitchen cabinetry, piping and aircon trunking.
However, the overall design and, most of all, the finer details that catch the eye – from the typography art on the TV wall, to the noren curtains and planter frame in the kitchen – were the owner’s own doing and took up the bulk of the time. “I like doing hands-on, DIY stuff, so every weekend since I moved in last January, till November, I was doing DIY projects around the house, styling a small area each time,” says the 43-year-old, who teaches visual merchandising at the Institute of Technical Education College Central in Ang Mo Kio. “It took so long because I had to make measurements and scout for the exact materials that I needed.”
Upon entering the modest 796sqf unit, one immediately notices how breezy, bright and open it is. It is these qualities – a result of the corner unit being on the lofty 12th storey, and the
generous length of the living room and adjacent bedroom windows – that won Herman over while house viewing two years ago. The bachelor, who lives on his parents’ landed property on weekdays, stays here over the weekends. With his room at his parents’ home decked out in Scandinavian style, he went for more wood for his apartment, complementing the green of the many plants throughout his home.
The wood elements come in a variety of textures: long wooden slats on the ceiling, Japanese-inspired room dividers, and raw branches that he’d picked up by the roadside or bought from Tiong Bahru Market and Crate & Barrel.
For inspiration, he referenced several magazines and Beams at Home, a book series that features the homes of staff working at Japanese fashion apparel brand Beams. “The interior designs are really casual, which is what I wanted for my home - nothing too formal, with a bit of a cafe feel,” he says.
While most homes just have one feature wall, Herman’s sports a couple because he “can’t stand anything too bare”. The TV wall is one of them, and the individual parts of the visual ensemble bear elements of his personality and passions. Fashioned in elegant script, the “Make yourself at home” typography art above the TV was hand-painted by Herman, and is flanked by a white wooden shutter board with his own graphic designs – including a cartoon illustration of himself – and a framed autographed Monocle magazine cover, amongst other items.
His favourite spot is the reading corner he created behind the kitchen counter. Complete with a magazine rack and camo camp bench, the corner is made cosy with a rug from Morocco, lantern from Beams, and a 1995 Japanese sake poster featuring Madonna by French artists Pierre et Gilles. He spends most of his time, however, at the dining area where he takes his meals and works on his laptop.