This Old-School Cool Apartment Has the Best View, Hands Down
Home to two and their pet corgi, this 60s-inspired apartment at The Rochester features a spacious balcony that stretches across three rooms!
There’s just something about mid-century modern design that makes it popular in Singapore homes these days. And if you’re planning to get the look, like how homeowner Vivienne (@thehomeodyssey) did, here’s some great news: it’s a great style to put your own spin on.
“Before I moved here, I was experimenting a lot with interior design at my rental home, and eventually, I developed a taste for mid-century modern (design),” says the interior and travel blogger, who is also a full-time trader in the oil and gas industry. “But I wouldn’t say that it’s the style that describes my place per se because I also wanted it (the décor) to reflect my own aesthetic.”
All of that is true – because it’s here in this 113 sqm condominium apartment, which Vivienne, her husband Max and pet corgi Emma call home, that we found an eclectic mix of vintage furniture and personal memorabilia in highly-personalised spaces, including a gorgeous open-air balcony that spans across three bedrooms. Keep scrolling for a peek inside!
About herself and her home
Vivienne (V): I originally lived in China, and it has been 13 years since I moved in Singapore; I’m proud to say that it’s now my home. My husband, Max, is Dutch and we live here with our pet corgi, Emma. We moved in 4 years ago after shifting out of our rental unit that’s also in The Rochester.
About her home’s new look
The floor plan for Vivienne and Max's apartment.
V: I have always had an interest in interior design, but I didn’t really have a personal style or preference in mind, even though I did find mid-century modern (MCM) design appealing. In the end, the (home’s) design became a mix of everything, not just MCM. There are even older vintage pieces in the house although most of it is inspired by the 60s.
Max’s taste is similar to mine, we are both attracted to old stuff; he listens to a lot of jazz and my favourite drama is Mad Men. I really love the aesthetic of the sets, all of the colours and furniture which they used spoke to me, so the show was a source of inspiration for me too.
One thing about our renovation is that we didn’t hire an interior designer as I wanted to try doing it on my own. You could say I was my own designer. Fortunately, the scope of work was relatively straightforward and the bulk of it involved replacing the original flooring in the living room and bedroom with real oak wood planks as well as cladding the balcony with the monochrome tiles I wanted.
Creating the overall look was a fun but challenging process because I had to visualise how each and every item would fit into the house. The same goes for the measurements because the contractors needed that information before they could get to work.
To me, the living room is a space for entertaining, a place to talk with friends and family so there’s no TV there. Instead, the centrepiece is a vinyl record player.
I also enjoy art and every time we travel I make an effort to bring something back home to hang on our gallery wall – there are vintage posters from a London market, a piece by a Chinese artist that uses different layers and materials, a painting that we bought from a ski hotel in Japan, and many more. It (the gallery wall) didn’t always look like this and the art is always evolving, but I intend for it to always be a visual display.
The kitchen and dining areas are designed to make having conversations easy. Max cooks at home, and I wanted to be able to talk to him when he’s busy inside, so an open kitchen was a requirement for us.
We didn’t have to do much to renovate the kitchen as well, it has the same open configuration now as it did when we first got the keys. One of the things that we changed though was the faucet, and we got a new one that has a bit of a vintage vibe to it.
Traditional nesting tables, which Vivienne dismantled and carried by hand back home from India, share balcony space with a pair of upcycled wooden seats and assorted greens.
Working with the contractors to renovate the balcony was a bit of a challenge. The floor tiles had to be re-laid because they got the pattern wrong initially and there wasn’t a ‘fringe’ of black tiles surrounding them. Looking back, that was partly my fault as a layman, I could have done a better job communicating what I wanted to them.
Because the view is great from the balcony, it’s also our outdoor dining area/living room/ and cosy corner. The hanging nest chair that you see in the corner was a second-hand piece that we bought for $50. Also, the chair was brown at first, so we painted it black by ourselves so that it would suit the balcony’s look better.
Because both bedrooms and the living area are all accessible from the balcony, the owners are able to get a nice view of the Buona Vista skyline from almost anywhere at home.
The design of the entertainment room, which is also another one of my reading corners, was inspired by two things: one is 60s music and the other is Africa – which is Max’s birthplace and also where he proposed to me.
A friend of ours gifted us a watercolor painting of the proposal and we framed it up on one of the walls here; I’d never hang up a wedding portrait because it would look too cheesy, and this was the only alternative I found acceptable [laughs].
Other than an stylish standing mirror, noteworthy accessories in Vivienne and Max’s bedroom also include a pair of wall-hung African juju hats as well as a framed print from King & McGaw.
Plenty of people often ask me where I bought my master bedroom’s dressing mirror from – it’s from Dreamweave, and it took me a very long time to find one of this size! The house can be quite dark sometimes, so this mirror is also useful for bouncing light off the surroundings.
Another challenge (about the house) is that there’s no store room, so we had to find storage space everywhere we can. So, even though I dislike bulky furniture in general, there’s a storage bed in the master bedroom, which we use to hide our luggage bags and other bulky belongings.
To sum up
V: My renovation advice to homeowners is to “make it personal”. If you are working with an interior designer, speak to him/her about your likes, dislikes, interests and hobbies – if you like jazz, try to incorporate elements of that; if you like modern art, get your designer to find ways to incorporate your favourite pieces – that way your house truly becomes a home that’s yours.
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