House Tour: Sahala and Lena's Romantic Shabby Chic Home

There is something absolutely charming about this Tanah Merah home: it combines the allure of all things vintage with the trendy vibe of modern pieces.

Updated on June 21, 2017 21:06 pm

Jerni Camposano


In this home, there is a promise of visual delight at every turn. Lovely couple Sahala and Lena Kamarudin-Tambunan packed loads of style and charm into this 1,300-sq.ft. abode. The overall design is a labour of love as the pair took into consideration not only each other's preferences but also the needs of their adorable twins and Lena's parents.

This condominium unit brims with effortless elegance. Style is always on display. Fab vintage finds and contemporary curios co-exist harmoniously. The fusion of two different interior design styles is downright impressive.

Mismatched furnishings and a statement pendant light give a unique touch to the dining room. The plates are available at The Vintage Parlour, a shop that Lena owns. Sahala saw the pendant light in a restaurant in Bandung and immediately purchased it. "Its angular structure is a nice juxtaposition to the vintage pieces in the dining table," says Lena.

Lena wanted a foyer so she asked her contractor to build another door and instructed them to paint it with gold details. The Peranakan tiles run from the foyer to the kitchen area. The rest of the house's flooring is altered Brazilian wood. "I wanted very seamless and long planks. This is actually dark wood and what I wanted was lighter and distressed. So my contractor poured acid over and over until we got this effect." The bike is sentimental to Lena because her husband Sahala, a biking enthusiast, assembled this for her.

Lena, who works in the creative industry, considered the family home her personal design project. She got a contractor to implement her design decisions upon moving into this unit in 2013.

"A lot of the things here are recycled from our old maisonette in Kembangan. I love the fact that I got to really design this place on my own and whatever I envisioned and dreamt of, it came into reality," says Lena.

While most homeowners would be wary of the concept of shabby chic style in their modern home, Lena is sure this is exactly the style she wants. Weathered and worn pieces that tell a tale of yesteryears are in fact celebrated in this home.

"In my job, I go to a lot of chateaus and mansions in Paris and Milan and I noticed all their furniture are like that," shares Lena. Since her family runs a furniture shop in Bandung, Indonesia, she asked them to do some pieces for her—the larger-than-life mirror by the entryway and the distressed dining table and benches were some of the first few collaborations she had with their shop.

The master's bedroom is just too pretty for words. The beauty is in the details: poster bed, sweet calligraphy on the headboard, framed photographs...

En suite bathroom and the couple's walk-in closet. The focal point in the bath space is the vintage mirror from The Vintage Parlour. "I'd like to advocate prettifying your bathroom by putting nice elements in it."

The couple's bright and breezy bedroom is Instagram-worthy, what with all the wonderful little details in it. The super king-sized matrimonial poster bed is undoubtedly the showstopper in this space. Yet there are other stylish elements in the room that deserve a second look: calligraphy prints with loving messages (read: "For me it is only you"), wooden white headboard, aromatherapy decors such as candles and flowers, and framed photographs, among many others.

Because she spends considerable amount of time in the en suite bathroom, Lena made sure it is nothing short of special. "I wanted to have a dry and wet toilet so I could still do a lot of things in the dry area," she explains. "There used to be a shower and a bathtub here. We did away with the bathtub so we could have a bigger shower area."

Lena built her twins Ayden and Isabella a treehouse bed. She made great use of the small space by putting hidden storages on the stairs and underneath the beds. The identical bunny illustrations were done by a friend after Lena found out she'd be having twins. She ordered the cute wall decals from
Oh Happy Fry.

This home's pièce de résistance? Definitely the kids' bedroom!

The twins' treehouse beds are the stuff childhood dreams are made of. "I invested so much time and effort into this space. It is a childhood dream of mine to stay in a treehouse and I never thought that could actually happen but I did it for my kids. That's why this treehouse bed that I built for them is the element in this house that is closest to my heart," relates Lena. You gotta love a mum as cool as her!

The weird shape of the room posed a great challenge for Lena, but she was bent on giving her best for the loves of her life: Ayden and Isabella. The result was a stunning space that features two individual beds, play and study area underneath each bed, and lots of storage spaces.

Lena is one woman who knows what she wants. Her ideas for this family home are truly worth the nod of design experts.

Renovation Details
Budget: About $70,000
Time to complete works: 1 month
Type of home: Resale condominium unit
Total space: 1,300 sq. ft.
Contractor: Dreamvision

Lena with twins Ayden and Isabella in the living room. This space subscribes to the modern minimalism style: sleek and simple, functional yet fuss-free.

Home design tips and lessons from the lovely Tambunan home

  • Work with a contractor who understands what you want. Lena had very specific requirements for her home. "I'm fortunate to have found someone who understood what I want and did it well," she says. The amount of stress of renovating a home is cut into half if there are no miscommunications.
  • Do not neglect the bath space. Lena feels a lot of people underestimate the benefits of a well-designed bathroom. "It's nice to put some thought into it and decorate it a little more. I wish to advocate to put a pretty mirror in this space, it just instantly changes the look and feel."
  • Display photographs. Photos are not meant to be just stored in our phones. Know that these portraits inject a nice nostalgic touch to any space. "Photos give that lived-in feeling in a home."
  • Consider mismatched furnishings. It's fun, quirky, and shows a lot of personality. "It has your own touch and it doesn't feel like anybody else's house."

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Photos by Xiangyun Lim (Alexa)


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