House Tour: Mrs. Zhou’s Oriental-Themed Home

With smart planning and guidance from their interior designer, the Zhou family was able to create a beautiful Oriental-themed home.

Updated on June 09, 2017 11:06 am

Michelle Ong

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With contemporary interior styles like Scandinavian and industrial becoming all the rage these days, the traditional Chinese interior look is becoming a rarer choice among younger couples. Mrs. Zhou, 37, however, isn't one to follow the crowd. She knew from the start that the Oriental design was exactly what she wanted for her HDB flat in Pasir Ris.

Previously based in China, Mrs. Zhou and her husband wanted a home that would have a heavy Chinese influence but still looks elegant. They decided to look for an interior designer, and after a long search, finally found their match in Adrian Teo, a designer from interior design agency nOtch lifestyle + design.

A star piece in the house is the ceiling fan, which cost Mrs. Zhou $1,000.

The birth of a new home

The couple made it clear to Adrian that they wanted a look much like that of the Mandarin Oriental hotel. However, Adrian saw that the design might be too overwhelming and not suitable for an HDB flat. True enough, the initial look did not impress everyone. “During the construction phase, I snapped photos (of the flat) and posted them on Facebook. The reaction was not good,” Adrian recalls. “But once completed, it was very nice.” He recommends to anyone trying to attempt the Oriental theme to balance out the hardness of the traditional look with a few contemporary elements.

The lights above the dining table are similar to the one in the bedroom and were bought in and brought over from China.

Far East Movement

When Adrian asked the Zhous what materials they would like for their home, they mentioned the reddish rose wood. However, using such a colour throughout the home would result in what Adrian calls a "Chinese temple-looking" home. To tone it down, different shades of dark browns were used to balance out the reddish wood. He also made sure only three colours from laminate supplier EDL were used: Aroma Wood Brown, Regency Cherry, and Scraped Wood Natural. These colours complement each other perfectly and are reflected throughout the apartment.

Referring to the panel lights, Mrs. Zhou says, "Before we moved in, we tested the lights and I went down to see how they looked from the void deck. From there, I could see it was beautiful—like beautiful skies!”

Oriental accents throughout the house include the patterned grill that frames the panel of LED light, which stretches over the ceiling of the passageway. When it was being installed, Adrian feared the space might look claustrophobic. Fortunately, the lights actually helped open up the space. The windows come with customised grills that were welded based on a schematic design done by Adrian and his team. The Oriental theme is also echoed in the many round, circular designs found throughout the home. These include a replica of a moon gate, or yue men in Chinese, a circular gate greeting guests into homes and that is commonly seen in ancient homes in China. The moon gate also has a Feng Shui purpose: it is considered bad luck for your home to face the corridor, a glass window is put up to "protect" the room.

One of Mrs. Zhou's favourite spaces in the house is the study room which comes with the yue men, or moon gate.

Full Coverage

The Zhous were lucky to have met Adrian, who says it is common practice for their agency to plan the budget for their clients. This budget would include items that the Zhous bought from external sources not suggested by Adrian, like www.taobao.com. “They took pictures of the furniture they saw on the (Taobao) app and consulted us,” says Adrian. He explains the reason for doing so is that there are items like beautiful cabinet handles not readily available in Singapore. Mrs. Zhou added that the items she wanted, such as the solid wood wardrobe in her bedroom, would cost a lot in Singapore, which was why she made the more economical choice of purchasing furniture from China, where she would also have more designs to choose from. In all, they spent 80,000 RMB or roughly $17,000 on Taobao items.

Finding The One

Mrs. Zhou advises that when looking for the perfect designer, you need to look at their past works to see if they can produce the kind of styles you like, as well as the details of their work. She also recommends seeking someone you feel comfortable with, or in her words “somebody that you can rely on."

Adrian says that he took inspiration from one of the paintings he saw at a hotel for the fish-covered headboard. “When you turn on the lights, it creates a shadow which gives it a three-dimensional look.”

For more information on nOtch lifestyle + design, check out their portfolio or visit their Facebook page.

Navigating Taobao

If you’re planning on looking to Taobao to purchase items like Mrs. Zhou did, you may feel overwhelmed by the multitude of items and sellers available on the site. Mrs. Zhou has this advice to offer for first-time buyers: "The first thing you need to do is to accept the risk that your item might come with slight damage. The second thing is to take a look at T-mall, a spin off company from Taobao, where you can find out more about the seller.”

Mrs. Zhou recommends looking at the diamond and heart ratings, which you’ll find on the reviews page. "You must go for sellers with at least three diamonds,” she says. She also warns against too-good-to-be-true reviews, which might be paid for, and are most likely inaccurate. Instead, she looks for generally favourable reviews that come with small criticisms.

Photos courtesy of nOtch lifestyle + design

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