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This Interior Stylist Has The Most Pinterest-Worthy HDB

July 3, 2017
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Every home has a story to tell.

For interior stylist Priscilla Tan (@styledbypt), it's a philosophy she wholly abides by.

"I always tell my clients that with interior styling, it's not just about having things looking 'nice'. What's important is telling a story, letting their identity shine through. It could be as simple as showcasing some of their favourite mementos, applying a style they like, or designing a spaces based on their hobbies. That's what makes a home truly unique."

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Her 4-room resale HDB, which she lives with her husband and two adorable pets (a Shiba and cat) reflect the same storied charm she advocates. No two areas are alike, filled to the brim with decor and accoutrements that each hold significant meaning.

In fact, ask Priscilla about it, and she’ll tell you the most vivid stories about them like a seasoned curator.

"This mini-Singer sewing machine from the 1950's was actually from my wedding", she reveals as we step into her 'curio corner' - an extra balcony area she uses to display her souvenirs and other knick knacks. "I still remember I was using it the night before my wedding to bead my dress."

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With dark painted walls and a unique, timbered flooring to match, the corner was a distinct contrast against the rest of the home's relatively bright scheme. But it was also one of the reasons why Priscilla and her husband decided to get the 40 year old flat.

"I loved that there was this balcony like area that's not like the usual walk-in, straight-line HDB flat. It was a pleasant surprise."

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While its prime location on Farrer Road and accessibility to amenities did cement their decision, nevertheless, the apartment came with its fair share of setbacks. The original decor was stuck in the 1980s, layout was difficult to manoeuvre about, and they had to settle with having one bathroom. "We literally redid everything from scratch - hacked the walls, did the painting, piping, everything - using a contractor. I did the design and styling. In total, we spent around $50,000." she admits.

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Despite having almost no experience in renovating or designing a home, Priscilla cites her eye for 'cheap and nice-looking furniture' and talent for placing items together in helping her shape out her private space. And with a beam of pride, she gladly points out all her bargain buys which could put any penny-pincher to shame.

"My favourite places to get furniture are online sites like Carousell, Taobao and Craigslist. I got a ton of second hand bargains, like this glass table (in the living room) which I only got for $80, and my Taylor B king-size bed frame, which was around $200."

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This knack for beautifying spaces on the cheap soon led to something more. A fashion designer by training, then an art therapist and more recently the former head designer at contemporary jewellery brand Choo Yilin, Priscilla has worn many creative hats - but none the scale of interior styling.

"I had friends who would tell their friends, 'Hey, you should check out what Priscilla did to her home', and the word spread. Soon after, I had referrals coming in, friends of friends who wanted me to help them design their home, and that was how the whole interior styling business started." she says. Not that she's complaining. In fact, she enjoys meeting and working with homeowners from all walks of life - championing a growing awareness for the interior styling community in Singapore.

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"I'm seeing more people going towards a lifestyle direction for their home. And with interior styling, it's really all about embracing that, coming up with an aesthetic that reflects them as a person. There's more to creating a home than the usual interior design, where its about carpentry, all the construction work." she adds.

But with the constant exposure to designing new styles and themes for clients, does Priscilla ever get the itch to revamp her own space? Five years on, and she confesses that her interior hasn't changed much - save for the occasional decor switch ups when the mood strikes.

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"That was also partly why I chose a neutral theme for my living space. I didn't want a lot of colours, and I wanted to keep things clean, so it would be easier to decorate around. Sometimes I will rearrange my furniture, change up my artwork. The only feature I often switch up and play with is actually the TV console - I will add some accessories and create a table-scape theme every now and then."

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All that, save for one major area - her master bedroom, which went through a major facelift just barely a year ago. Initially colourful, funky and filled with a lot of her paintings, Priscilla admits that a chance encounter with her gigantic, carved wood mirror sparked an epiphany to totally revamp her bedroom decor.

"For a good period of time, I did love the colourful, IKEA stuff I had in my bedroom. But as I grew into my 30s, it suddenly looked too kiddy, too childish. The mirror, with its off-white finish really helped me push for a more matured aesthetic."

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As a result, gone were the quirky pieces, replaced with muted wallpapers, a plush bed frame, new shelving and accessories to create a neutral-toned, resort style. A look that allows Priscilla to feel more comfortable, relaxed - which became a must with her and her husband's ever-busy schedules.

"I'm past that kitschy, vibrant phase, and I think it's only natural that our style evolves with us too. This way, your home also depicts your progression as a person, how your attitudes, your priorities have changed."

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"I guess that's the allure about interior styling. It's so unique and unheard of in our culture, that the process of it all just feels like an adventure. For these homeowners that I work with, it's their own little story, a journey towards creating their personal space." Priscilla quips.


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