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Bringing Aussie Suburban Vibes into a Maisonette in Hougang

Coordinating the renovation can be a stressful experience for most couples. Imagine doing it while you’re overseas!

This was the unique situation that homeowners Amrita and Brendan were in as they coordinated their renovation from Australia, for almost the entire duration of their renovation. Thankfully, they found a reliable interior designer and project manager in the form of Alvin from Prozfile Design who was able to help the both of them to get their house in order for their big move back to Singapore.

We sat down with the lively couple and get them to share more with us about how it was like to renovate their home while overseas.

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About the homeowners

Amrita (A): My husband, Brendan, has been living in Australia for the past eleven years. I moved there five years ago when we got married and settled down in Sydney. We had our child there and found it quite difficult to raise a child since we both had full-time jobs. Hence, we decided to come back to Singapore to be around family.

On their inspiration

A: Having lived in Australia for a number of years, we grew to really love the lifestyle there. Australian suburban design is very much about the natural elements in the house – the wood, the light and airy feel, and plants. As we’re both people who love nature and the outdoors, we really wanted a sense of that in our home – especially in Singapore, with all its hustle and bustle.

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On finding an interior designer

A: We were in a unique situation; we were living overseas and at the same time, trying to renovate our home in Singapore. We only travelled back to Singapore to find an interior designer and after that, we flew back to Australia where we coordinated the entire renovation through the Internet.

Brendan (B): The main challenge we faced when finding a designer was that most local designers didn’t get our theme. Whenever we described what we wanted, most of them understood it as a Scandinavian design, which is a world apart from Australian design. We even had to do a set of mood board and a PowerPoint presentation to better illustrate to them who we are as homeowners and what we are trying to achieve with our design.

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A: Alvin from Prozfile Design did the best job of recommending us designs based on our requirements as compared to a lot of the other designers who would try to push their ideas of what’s nice and what’s not onto us. He had the greatest capacity to absorb what we were sharing with him about Australian design and he was open-minded enough to take up such a challenging project.

On the major works performed

A: We wanted an open-plan kitchen so a lot of the walls in the living room had to be knocked down. That made the living room look a lot more spacious!

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On their must-haves

B: We wanted a living space that is communal. I want ten people to be able to sit comfortably in the living room which is why we have two sofas and the rug in the middle so that everyone can just sit around – whether on the sofas or on the floor. We also decided to do away with a coffee table as a centrepiece so that more people can gather in this space.

A: We enjoy cooking so we wanted an open kitchen that was fully-equipped with a full chimney, an oven, a stovetop and a dishwasher. It was also important for the the kitchen to be spacious as we want it to be a space where we could cook and entertain our guests.

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On their biggest splurge

A: I think it was the staircase. It cost us a lot. We replaced the existing steps with steps made of real teak wood. (Alvin informed us that if we used vinyl, there would be join lines.)

About working with Alvin

A: As we were based overseas, we mainly communicated with Alvin via our WhatsApp group chat and he constantly kept us updated on the progress of the renovation by sending us photos. We even fixed video chat appointments where he would walk around the house to show us the progress of the renovation works. He was definitely very patient with us.

B: During the five years that the both of us were in Australia, we lived in three different homes so we had a clear idea of what we wanted and what we didn’t want. In this regard, Alvin was able to advise us on what brands we could consider based on what we wanted.

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Something interesting about their home

A: You won’t find a television in our home. We’re very conscious of the impact that TV has in our lives so we didn’t want a TV in our space – although we do have a hidden projector screen that we use whenever we want to have movie nights! We've fit over 30 people in here before!

B: It’s actually good to not have a TV in our home because our guests can engage in conversations with each other instead of watching the TV.

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About their furniture

A: I was very particular about how I wanted the furniture in the living space to look. I custom-made my 2-metre-long daybed at Golden Teak at Tan Boon Liat Building to look like one of the daybeds I had seen on Pinterest and they did a great job of replicating the design.

B: We also bought things from HipVan, Ethnicraft and Castlery. These were shops that our Singaporean friends advised us to shop at. We got a lot of our things from Australia as well because Australia has a lot of furnishings that matched our aesthetic.

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To sum up

A: We felt like Alvin did a great job pulling off a long distance collaboration with us, and I’m very happy because the overall look and feel of the house is in line with what I wanted. In fact, if you compare the 3D drawing with how the house looks in real life, you’ll find that both of them look very similar.

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