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Renovation Journey: Tropical Glam

At a Glance

  • Howard and Sabrina
  • Size: 196 sqm / 2,111 sqft
  • Location: East Coast Road
  • Renovation duration: 5 months
  • Cost of Renovation: $250,000
  • Cost of Furnishing: $50,000
  • Interior Design Firm: UPSTAIRS_
  • Interior Designer: Dennis Cheok

Pure Verdure

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Bringing together the energising greenery of tropical décor and the sophistication of modern-style interiors, this 196 sqm seafront apartment was remodelled to create the perfect rustic-chic getaway for owners Howard Christian and Sabrina Rosalina.

We sat down with the friendly couple to talk about their love for beachfront living, and how UPSTAIRS_architect Dennis Cheok brought the lushness of the Balinese wilds into their home.

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Qanvast: Tell us more about your home’s décor. Why did you choose a tropical look?

Howard (H): We wanted a tropical feel since this apartment is our holiday home. And because the living room offers a good view of the sea, we felt the theme would go well with the idea of beachfront living. We travel to Bali a lot as well, so that influenced our decision too.

Sabrina (S): Our home in Indonesia has an American design, so we wanted a different look here. Another factor is that we learnt from magazines that tropical décor is one of the latest trends. We also spoke to Dennis about installing materials to create a classy hotel look, such as marble and woven vinyl flooring – which we chose as an alternative to parquetry because we prefer its look and feel over wood.

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Qanvast: Considering that you are unfamiliar with local interior design firms, how did you get to know about UPSTAIRS_?

H: Through Qanvast actually. We received a number of (designer) recommendations through it, but we liked UPSTAIRS_’s work most and that’s why we chose to work with them.

Also, as an app, Qanvast was simple to use. We don’t have a PC here and Qanvast offers an easy way to browse designers and projects whenever I am on the go.

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Qanvast: That's great to hear! What was the process of renovating your Singapore home like?

H: It was definitely an interesting process for Sabrina and myself. We both live overseas, and this meant travelling to Singapore frequently to see how the renovation was moving along.

Interestingly, this apartment also used to be my childhood home. I lived here from when I was 9 until my family decided to rent it out shortly after I turned 16. And after the most recent batch of tenants left, we decided to move back in and renovate the place to make it our second home.

S: Howard had to fly in to address some construction delays and to supervise the project for a couple of days. But other than that, things went smoothly and we are happy with the result.

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Qanvast: Was there anything that you didn’t like about the house before? If so, how was it changed?

H: The whole house was originally very dark, so we chose to increase its overall brightness by installing more overhead lights and opening up the kitchen.

There’s also the bedroom at the back of the hall. It used to be separated by a pair of wooden sliding doors, but I prefer to have more privacy so we had them removed and walled up the entrances instead.

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Qanvast: There seems to be plenty going on in your home after the renovation, but what do you like most about it?

H: I like the living room’s ceiling most of all. The botanic wallpaper really conveys the tropical feel that we had in mind.

S: I feel the same way too! But to add on, I like how the same wallpaper was used within the bedroom for consistency. The new bathroom layout is great too. Dennis proposed the idea of swapping the position of the WC and the shower area, which helped in maximising the space.

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Qanvast: Considering that this is the first time that you are renovating a home overseas, what do you feel are your most valuable takeaways?

H: If you are a first-timer without any friend or relatives to provide local recommendations, it can be quite a gamble to renovate your home overseas. Luckily, it turned out fine in our case as Qanvast had already done the homework for us by shortlisting a couple of reliable designers.

S: Yes, it’s important to do your homework. And you should make use of all resources that are available! Check out the reviews and search online for more information before hiring an interior designer.

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Qanvast: Last but not least, do you have any future home improvements planned?

H: Dennis and his team did a great job on coordinating the décor and furniture to match our tastes so I would say that we are okay for now. But we will probably get some home accessories like fake plants and nature-related ornaments to make the house 'greener'.

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