When energy trader and interior design influencer Vivienne Shen and her Dutch husband went house hunting in Singapore, they fell in love with a Joo Chiat conservation shop as soon as they got there. set foot.
“We have always loved shophouses in Singapore. Each of them is unique and carries a piece of the country’s history and cultural heritage. This one has very high ceilings, an open space on the first floor and a courtyard right in the middle of the house, which allows us to bring the outdoors inside,” says the 34-year-old of the 3,500 square feet , two-and-a-half-story house, which comes with an attic and a roof terrace.
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Having grown up in China, married a European, traveled extensively and lived in Singapore for 16 years, Shen shares that her taste for interiors has evolved over the years. “My eyes have been constantly educated by the places I’ve traveled, the cultures I’ve been immersed in, the materials I’ve touched, and the people I’ve found inspiring,” she explains.
Shen further shares that she is “always intrigued by a space that displays a variety of eras and aesthetic textures,” and that wherever she travels, she is always “excited to seek out local markets and antique shops. ; nothing beats the feeling of finding a unique piece that touches the heart.” As such, she decided that her home would be designed as a melting pot of influences, housing “an assemblage of my fondest memories of life”, and presenting “a mix and balance of texture, materials, eras and patina”.
Two old-fashioned bicycles, perfect for exploring the neighborhood, form an attractive tableau perched on the entrance’s checkerboard floor, which features reclaimed antique Carrara marble and bluestone tiles imported from the Netherlands. A pair of framed 17th-century antique maps of China and the Netherlands (the couple’s home countries) lend period charm. The glass balustrade and floating wooden steps of the minimalist staircase provide an unobstructed view of the entire ground floor.
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In a nod to the charming old Tuscan villa where the couple held their wedding party, it’s settled into a Mediterranean-inspired living room and courtyard, before adding a modern farmhouse kitchen, as well as a a master bedroom and a colonial-style bathroom.
Disparate themes are unified by a soothing palette of neutral hues – mostly white, with pops of grey, beige and black – and the use of timeless natural materials such as brass, marble, wood and rattan , accented by the placement of tropical greenery throughout.
An abstract painting in earthy tones and a clean-lined sectional sofa covered in gray fabric anchor the living room. Freestanding pieces such as covered sheepskin &Tradition The small Petra chair, a mid-century modern vintage chest, and a 13th-century French chair add depth and texture to the space.
Another focal point of the room comes in the form of an 18th century Louis XVI style limestone faux fireplace, adorned with an 18th century Louis XVI style gold plated mirror frame over its fireplace. It is flanked on either side by built-in display niches with an assortment of Han Dynasty pottery, a three-legged earthenware vessel from the Neolithic Yangshao culture, and period African handicrafts filling the shelves.
A pair of lush Monstera palms and plants soar majestically towards the sunlight that illuminates the inner courtyard, with its rock garden and Moorish-style wishing fountain that brings back fond memories of past trips to Italy. This leads into the airy dining room with its whitewashed walls and ceiling, where a floral-inspired Georges pendant lamp casts a honeyed glow over the light wood rectangular dining table, with Hans J. Wegner CH24 Wishbone chairs nestled and attached by its cast iron lattice legs.
A dead nook in the dining room has been transformed into a charming breakfast nook with a mid-century modern vintage sideboard, decorated with a vase in the shape of a head (“from our honeymoon in Sicily”) and d a vintage turntable with a retro look. marshal speaker – and a painting by a Zambian contemporary figurative painter Jonathan Waterid it adds an element of quirkiness. This corner has become Shen’s favorite part of the house. “It’s very comfortable; I have the full view of the house and I do everything here: simple meals with my husband, afternoon tea, reading a book in the evening. I sometimes work here too,” she says.
The essentials when the couple receives? “Organic ceramic tableware with French linen napkins, complemented by wildflower arrangements,” Shen says. “My husband is a wine lover, so we always like to share our wine collection.”
Beyond the dining area is the greige-meets-luxe modern farmhouse-inspired kitchen with Calacatta Mediterraneo marble countertops and backsplash accompanied by pale gray cabinetry with understated aged brass fittings and a Bertazzoni stove – all comfortably seated on reclaimed Burgundy limestone floor tiles imported from France. A large arched steel and glass French door at the end offers a view of the backyard’s sun-dappled greenery.
Going upstairs, we notice an oil painting that punctuates the landing. “It’s a family heirloom from the 1860s, passed down in my husband’s family through the generations,” Shen explains, adding that “there is a similar painting in the Rijksmuseum (the Dutch national museum)”.
The family room, with its mid-century aesthetic, acts as a buffer zone between the main floor and the bedrooms, and an informal space where the whole household (there is also their baby daughter Olivia and their corgi Emma) can relax together and watch tv.
Olivia’s room, with old pink and white walls, modular Stokke to copy, Line Roset sofa, and wall mounted Fiona Walker stuffed animal heads evoking a subtle safari theme, is proof that a baby’s room can be a calm and stylish space.
Wallpaper by Over the colors featuring oversized botanical style black and white prints of coconut trees was used to create a dramatic focal point for the colonial themed master bedroom. A self-designed wood and rattan bed made to measure by Second Charm, vintage desk and chair, framed 19th century artwork, rattan shade, brass lighting and hardware complete the picture. Taking the design point further, the master bathroom, where an oval tub, half-height white canvas wall covering and Hello Circus Wallpaper with swaying coconut tree designs reinforces a tropical vacation vibe.
Of course, what’s a stylish home without a walk-in closet? The all-white space, with its combination of clothes rails, open shelving, and drawers, creates an order that allows Shen to get dressed in a jiffy.
“I would describe my sense of style as effortless. I always wear a long dress or wide pants, made of organic materials. I love the minimalist designs of Lineold Celine and totem, as well as French and vintage influenced patterns, such as Reformation. I also like relatively young brands like Gaia Cult, From afarand Nanouchka. Their designs make me want to go on vacation,” says Shen, who also collects vintage handbags – she has quite a few. Hermes those. “When it comes to jewelry, I almost never wear a necklace, but I always choose earrings, often vintage, that go with the outfit.”
His next project is to renovate and expand the attic and the roof terrace. These spaces will feature, like the rest of her home, “rooms that reflect individuality and speak to a personal journey.” As she says, a beautiful home should be one that “tells the story of the owner’s treasured memories.” It must reflect the past and also contain the future”. We think the house’s new look will be best enjoyed with a glass of chilled sangria in hand.
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This article was originally published in Harper’s Bazaar.