Kok Weng and Jacelyn Tan like café hopping. Most of the coffee shops they frequent are industrial-style coffee shops, and while they like the raw and unfinished look, they feel that they don't want to come home to a place sporting the same interior style.
What they want instead is a romantic-looking home that evokes memories of their European trips, a place that feels otherworldly and royal but also supremely cosy. When they got their keys to their Tampines flat in September 2014, they already knew what style they would go for. They would aim for the Modern Parisian look with some Victorian twist—Victorian cornices, cabriole-legged sofas, and all.
"I like something more royal. We visited a lot of places in London, and the place was so pretty. [Fit for] a princess," says Jacelyn.
Knowing that most of the Singapore flats are done in Scandinavian, minimalist, or industrial style, the couple set out to find the right team who would realise their dream. "We had little time to do everything because of the wedding, so we had been searching for contractors. All of them were into the industrial look. Even if there are interior designers who do Victorian, they're very expensive," says Jacelyn. "So we did away with the interior designers and went for contractors."
Jacelyn and her ever-supportive husband Kok Weng squeezed all their renovation tasks within a month after their wedding: sourcing the furniture from Indonesia and Malaysia, liaising with and monitoring the contractors, handcrafting decors, making sure the home matches the idea in their head.
And in just one month, their dream to live in a home that shines like royalty came true. Check out the home below:
This is what you see when you open the door: a display of colours and opulence set against a dazzling white backdrop.
Instead of wainscoting the entire wall, the couple went for subtle mouldings via picture-frame wainscotings. Jacelyn explains, "The Victorian style has a lot of moulding, but for me, it’s a bit too much. I just like something simple." The festive ornaments by the window depend on the occasion, and Jacelyn always looks forward to dotting this area with her DIY creations.
The living room also features cabriole furniture sourced from Indonesia, Victorian covings on the ceiling, and more of Jacelyn's DIY decorations. Soft toys on the tufted sofa hint at the couple's whimsical and playful nature.
The open plan layout also features the small yet statement-making dining area. The chandelier, bought in Malaysia for only $100 ("We bought all the chandeliers from Malaysia. They're so much cheaper, like two to three times cheaper"), and the tufted dining chairs add so much elegance to the space. A checkered red-and-green tablecloth was used to mark the festive season.
Furniture in this home was mostly sourced from Indonesia including the round dining set. "Victorian furniture pieces
"I liked Tiffany Blue. I liked it in the kitchen, I liked something that would brighten up the day, especially that kitchen is the heart of the home. When you see it, you feel happy," says Jacelyn about their modern Parisian kitchen. Adds Kok Weng, "Initially I was worried about the colour she chose, and it turned out to be pretty. "
"In Europe, they have lots of checkered floors, and it’s so beautiful. If I put it in the living room, it’s too much. In the bedroom, it looks very big. So the best place is the kitchen," says Jacelyn. The checkered floor handsomely complements the glossy Shaker-style and glass-fronted cabinets.
Travel magnets, DIY menu chalkpaint, and jewelled wall decals personalise the kitchen.
Any fan of arts and crafts would fall in love with Jacelyn's craft room. A hodgepodge of all things cute and crafty, this room houses a number of styling props that Jacelyn use when she styles her friends' weddings. "We were actually intending to do some home decor business and freelance event planning services," says Jacelyn.
Jacelyn did a lot of DIY props and decorations for their wedding, and they're now all part of this craft room, adding sparkle and love to the area. She also makes sure she changes the photos every once in a while to keep the look exciting.
Jacelyn's friends turn to her for their styling or props needs—she almost has everything, from glittery masks to mason jars.
Instead of the usual bridal shower party, Jacelyn and her friends held an afternoon of crafts, where each of the bridesmaids made artworks that she now displays on the craft room.
One room was converted into a wardrobe. It accommodates an ornate Victorian armoire and chest of drawers. A tufted armchair in black and white sits at the corner, looking inviting and cosy.
An area rug in rose hue contributes to the luxurious look of the room and marks a comfy nook for the homeowners.
The bomb shelter door was used as a canvas for a lamp post wall decal, and a hanging clock greets guests at the hallway.
Kok Weng and Jacelyn were lenient about their theme—wanting an HDB flat styled the Victorian way doesn't necessarily mean you restrict other rooms to that design. The bathroom, for example, shows a nautical theme and features one of their dream destinations, Santorini.
"The 'Welcome Aboard' mirror is from Taobao. I love this theme. We love the sea. I love Santorini, then he loves blue, so it fits both of us," says Jacelyn.
The master bedroom is unapologetically pink and charming, furnished with classic furniture pieces that reinforce the European theme. Gossamer pink curtains with heart accents welcome you, and a "P.S. I Love You" wall decal furthers the dainty touch.
The beaded and tufted bed, sourced from Taiwan, is surrounded by frilly textures and heart decals that turn the place into a romantic wonderland.
A French floral carpet at the foot of the bed is a stunning addition to the bedroom. "I like a lot of flowers. That’s why you will see a lot of flowers here and there," says Jacelyn.
The French-style dresser occupies the corner of the bedroom, together with an equally luxe side table. Both were bought from Indonesia.
Master Bedroom Bathroom
Romantic details largely matter in this house—hence the heart-shaped sink and mirror.
The service yard, mostly relegated to sporting a nondescript look, was not ignored in this HDB flat. Jacelyn worked her DIY magic to jazz up the space.
The happy couple in their pretty and quirky living room
For the couple, the wisest decision they had about this whole renovation was to get all their lights from Malaysia ("We spent less than $1,000 for all the lights in the house") and furniture pieces from Indonesia. Their furniture budget of $17,000 went a long way—it got them a sofa, dining set, armoire, chests of drawers, a queen-sized bed, tables, night stands, and a vanity dresser, all of them looking like they came from a classic Parisian home.
Kok Weng admits, "Then, when you get the furniture, you have to consider the material, the wood. And then work out the delicate details. Then you have to match the colours. You don’t want to overplay the thing."
There are still a couple of things Kok Weng and Jacelyn want to complete their European dream—having a faux fireplace mantel, for one. But right now they are beyond happy with what they've done. Jacelyn says, "It makes us happy. It really reflects our character and personality. Once you step inside your home, it makes you feel so cosy."
Type of property: 4-Room BTO
Budget: $45,000 ($28,000 for the renovation, $17,000 for the furniture)
Time to complete works: One month
Kok Weng and Jacelyn's tips for homeowners:
1. "Budget is the most important thing to consider. You want to spend your money wisely and get what you want. For young couples like us, money is important since we have other stuff to commit also."
2. "Your space should ideally match your personality."
3. Choose contractors carefully. "When you select your IDs and contractors, try to find out if they are trustworthy. Getting referrals is the best. It makes things easier so you wouldn’t have a lot of conflict."
4. Think twice about getting built-in storage. "Once it's built in, you can no longer move it. In the future, we think of shifting our furniture to other places."
Get the look: Modern Victorian with a Parisian twist
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Photos by Samantha Echavez