My living room – before and after!

3rd July 2020 by Rebecca Bisset 3 Min ReadSo you’ve found the apartment or house you like, you’ve bought some pieces you love and it should all be good. But what do you do if it’s just not hanging together well? An interior designer or a home stylist can help – even if it’s just to get one or two rooms looking ‘groomed’!We talk to Indonesian expat INTAN about living in Singapore and how she got her apartment at D’Grove Villas looking just the way she wants it – with a little help from Priya Naik at Interior Design Journey.How long have you been in Singapore? In total, we’ve been here for 10 years. This is our second stint and we’ve been back for three and a half years. We love it!How long have you lived in this apartment and why did you choose it?The apartment was the last one we viewed after a manic 18 viewings over a two-day period and we just fell in love with it. It’s an old build, which means it has space, and it’s in a great location.What made you call on an interior designer?I love muted tones; it shows in how I dress and how I decorate. I also love seeing pops of colour, but I’ve never felt brave enough to try them out. So, I figured a chat with an interior designer wouldn’t hurt. I wanted to keep to my own aesthetic choices, but I also needed a push to introduce more colour into our lives. How was it working with the designer? Was anything easier or more difficult than you’d imagined?I definitely didn’t want to be pushed into doing something I wasn’t comfortable with. Priya was great because she listened, didn’t laugh at my predominantly grey/blue home and pushed just enough. It was wonderful working with her.Which rooms did Interior Design Journey work on and what did they do?Just the living room, and we worked with the pieces that were already there. After the first meeting, Priya shared her vision, approximate cost and timeline. Everything was very clear and efficient from the get-go.If you were to recommend Priya to a friend what would you say?She is talented, creative and puts you at ease almost immediately.How do you feel now when you walk in to the house compared to before?It’s always been our home… it just looks better now!A word from the interior designerPriya tells us about the flow of the project, and what her work involved.#1 We first ensured that some of key existing pieces were worked into the makeover in order to keep within the budget.#2 Intan had a few art pieces that she hadn’t displayed as she was a little unsure how to do so in amongst the built-in cabinets and a huge mirrored wall. So, we made the best use of one wall where art could displayed and made that into a focal point of the room. We added in a new carved detail sideboard, lamp and accessories to complete that area or “nook”.#3 We also introduced a new navy sofa as the existing blue sofa didn’t proportionally work in the space or with the other furniture. #4 We had some gorgeous custom cushions made from Jim Thompson and European fabric to add a much-needed pop of colour and some lovely patterns and textures.#5 We added a teal side table next to the existing grey Chesterfield sofa with a fabulous lamp from Taylor B adding another interesting finish to the space.#6 The existing rug was dominating the room so we replaced it with one with a more subtle pattern that also had some colour in it.#7 We added a runner behind the sofa and kitchen counter to soften the area leading to the dining space.#8 Intan requested minimal accessories, so we only added a few new pieces and styled them along with some of her existing things.#9 In the lift lobby, we added a new sideboard with a runner. We also styled Intan’s existing artwork and accessories, adding a couple of new accessories too. I think the space now feels inviting and personalised. Before and AfterProject Favourites & Recommendations Artful HouseJust AnthonyTaylor BLuxe Furnishings Priya Naik, founder of Interior Design JourneyInterior Design Journey9062 7974 | [email protected] more home inspiration? See our home decor section!

Original personalised artwork

22nd June 2020 by Expat Living 3 Min ReadYou’ve probably spent quite a bit of time looking at those white walls in your home lately! If you’ve been wondering what would look great on them, these personalised artworks and paintings tick a lot of boxes.LouiseM is a French artist based in Singapore. She creates personalised art that represents you. So, her paintings reflect a timeline of your life – from special moments with kids to family travels – for you to create your own distinctive space at home.Personalised artHow does it work? After finding inspiration in your story through dialogue and listening, LouiseM applies a little of her magic and renders it into a visual idea. This then becomes a painting. And the options are endless for how you use it. You could have a giant wall mural on a canvas in your living room or master bedroom. Or, give a boost to your kitchen with a backsplash or hood panel, or replace your bedhead – even spruce up your old piano. Everything is doable – so go a little crazy and let your imagination run free! We chatted with the artist about her interesting approach. What’s your own artistic style?I don’t have just one style. Each artwork is unique and created according to the client’s request and the aspects they want to give to their interior. My paintings can be very colourful – in a style that I call “bubblegum”. Like in the backsplash (top right) where the illustration shows the favourite brands of everyone in the family. I can also home in on a particular colour, like the blue of the piano design, which is the favourite colour of the client, Annette. In this case, Annette also wanted a testimony from each of her friends in the painting. I also love to work with black and white shades in a more graphic style – especially to draw cities and their unwavering industrial environments.You can find the whole collection on my website and examples of my projects on Instagram too. What are the different steps in your projects?First of all, it’s important to know the final destination of your painting and its purpose. This will help define its size, the material to be used and also the desired design, depending on your interior décor. I work with pictures of your room to create a demo and to ensure it blends naturally into its new home. Then, through conversations, I’ll uncover specific topics you want to underline in your piece of personalised art. If you want the panel to convey a story about your family’s travels in Asia, for example, I’ll ask you questions about this vacation. Then, as a team, we’ll create a meaningful artwork. My main objective is for you to embrace and love the final painting as you find yourself in it. What brought you to Singapore?We decided last July that we would move here for the beginning of the school year. This was a massive upheaval for our family of seven, now scattered all over the world! I used to have fun and enjoy my workshop in Paris, but this change was an opportunity to revamp my creativity.The new adventure has turned into a beautiful and inspiring one, helping to open my mind to different perceptions and discover new landscapes, new balances to draw and reinvent. My first project orders gave me the chance to add in images that are the “essentials” of Singapore. Also, scenes of the island’s tropical jungle inspire me a lot. There is so much you can do with nature designs in a green city like this.8907 7037 | louisem.fr | @louisem_artiste This article first appeared in the June 2020 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase a copy or subscribe so you never miss an issue!Read here for more about furniture and home décor in Singapore.

Original personalised artwork & paintings

22nd June 2020 by Expat Living 3 Min ReadYou’ve probably spent quite a bit of time looking at those white walls in your home lately! If you’ve been wondering what would look great on them, these personalised artworks and paintings tick a lot of boxes.LouiseM is a French artist based in Singapore. She creates personalised art that represents you. So, her paintings reflect a timeline of your life – from special moments with kids to family travels – for you to create your own distinctive space at home.Personalised artHow does it work? After finding inspiration in your story through dialogue and listening, LouiseM applies a little of her magic and renders it into a visual idea. This then becomes a painting. And the options are endless for how you use it. You could have a giant wall mural on a canvas in your living room or master bedroom. Or, give a boost to your kitchen with a backsplash or hood panel, or replace your bedhead – even spruce up your old piano. Everything is doable – so go a little crazy and let your imagination run free! We chatted with the artist about her interesting approach. What’s your own artistic style?I don’t have just one style. Each artwork is unique and created according to the client’s request and the aspects they want to give to their interior. My paintings can be very colourful – in a style that I call “bubblegum”. Like in the backsplash (top right) where the illustration shows the favourite brands of everyone in the family. I can also home in on a particular colour, like the blue of the piano design, which is the favourite colour of the client, Annette. In this case, Annette also wanted a testimony from each of her friends in the painting. I also love to work with black and white shades in a more graphic style – especially to draw cities and their unwavering industrial environments.You can find the whole collection on my website and examples of my projects on Instagram too. What are the different steps in your projects?First of all, it’s important to know the final destination of your painting and its purpose. This will help define its size, the material to be used and also the desired design, depending on your interior décor. I work with pictures of your room to create a demo and to ensure it blends naturally into its new home. Then, through conversations, I’ll uncover specific topics you want to underline in your piece of personalised art. If you want the panel to convey a story about your family’s travels in Asia, for example, I’ll ask you questions about this vacation. Then, as a team, we’ll create a meaningful artwork. My main objective is for you to embrace and love the final painting as you find yourself in it. What brought you to Singapore?We decided last July that we would move here for the beginning of the school year. This was a massive upheaval for our family of seven, now scattered all over the world! I used to have fun and enjoy my workshop in Paris, but this change was an opportunity to revamp my creativity.The new adventure has turned into a beautiful and inspiring one, helping to open my mind to different perceptions and discover new landscapes, new balances to draw and reinvent. My first project orders gave me the chance to add in images that are the “essentials” of Singapore. Also, scenes of the island’s tropical jungle inspire me a lot. There is so much you can do with nature designs in a green city like this.8907 7037 | louisem.fr | @louisem_artiste This article first appeared in the June 2020 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase a copy or subscribe so you never miss an issue!Read here for more about furniture and home décor in Singapore.

Fab furniture shops at Dempsey Hill

10th June 2020 by Expat Living 3 Min ReadDid all these weeks at home make you realise you want to spruce up things a bit? The furniture shops at Dempsey Hill are the perfect place to find fab home décor pieces. There’s pretty much everything on offer, from statues, artwork, outdoor furniture and even landscape gardening. You’ll find unusual small accents or larger pieces in colonial or modern styles – rugs and lamps too. Check these out these home décor shops online for starters!Bungalow 55This go-to boutique offers a beautifully curated selection of hundreds of homewares sourced from around the globe. Their home décor collection includes lamps, pendant lighting, rugs, chairs, accent pieces, ottomans, consoles and truly stunning decorative accessories. Seriously, if you want to give a fresh face to your place, this should be one of your first stops. You can even opt for more of a décor makeover by booking a complimentary one-hour consultation in the comfort of your own home.Block 8D Dempsey Road | thebungalow55.com Hedger’s Carpet GalleryThe fastest way to change a room? Change the flooring! Rugs are a fantastic way to bring out textures, patterns and colours unique to your personal style, and Hedger’s Carpet Gallery has every kind of style imaginable. Choose from exquisite vintage silk carpets to timeless, classic rugs. Each piece will elevate your space for years to come.13 Dempsey Road | hedgerscarpetgallery.com.sg Marquis Studio / Lifestorey @ DempseyThis special furniture shop at Dempsey Hill is the hub for all things fuss-free and snazzy, for giving your home that distinct designer look. It carries a huge variety of fun, unique and eclectic items from a wide variety of European designers, bringing the best of home furnishings and accessories. Not sure how to put it all together? No worries. The shop offers complete home packages to make redecorating easy.Block 8D Dempsey Road | Lifestorey.com Maywell LifestyleIf being stuck at home all day has made you crave nature, why not bring it inside with handcrafted pieces made of natural wood? Since 1996, Maywell has been creating one-of-a-kind functional furniture as well as restoring older pieces, including antiques. The store’s artisans specialise in carpentry, fabrication, customisation and modification. So, if they don’t have what you want, they can make it for you. Along with beautiful furniture, you’ll also find special artwork and sculptures here that you won’t see anywhere else.13 Dempsey Road | maywell.com.sg PaddifieldDid the Circuit Breaker leave you with a whole new appreciation of the outdoors? Then why not give your alfresco space a fresh face? Paddifield has a wide range of outdoor furniture at Dempsey Hill. There’s also accessories to help you create an intimate gathering space or for the big bash you’ve been dreaming of for months. You can even add a touch of fun with some of the colourful accents on offer.9B Dempsey Road | facebook.com/PaddifieldInternational Woody Antique HouseOne of the oldest furniture shops at Dempsey Hill we love the mix of styles there. Colourful cabinets are an easy way to add personality to your home. Ditch the minimalist white or neutral tones in favour of an eye-catching oriental cabinet – it’ll create a fun focal point in any room. And it’s furniture you’ll keep forever. At Woody’s you’ll find a diverse range of Asian furniture and antiquities, sourced from various parts of Asia including China, Tibet, Mongolia, India, Myanmar, Thailand and Indonesia.Block 13 Dempsey Road | woodyantique.com dempseyhill.comThis article first appeared in the June 2020 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase a copy or subscribe so you never miss an issue!

10 Online Home Décor Shops You’ll Love

Staying indoors and social distancing doesn’t mean you have to miss out on some retail therapy. You can shop for gorgeous homeware and furniture in your pyjamas, and get it delivered right to your door – all while trying to home-school the kids, of course! Online home décor shops in Singapore are now pretty easy to use and delivery is usually quick!Originals – Beautiful and sustainableNot only are the items stocked at Originals beautiful, but the store also strives to make a positive impact by caring about how each product looks, lasts and makes people feel. It doesn’t just sell furniture; it sources, makes and customises it too. Some pieces here are old, and some are new, but all are carefully sourced.The team says: “You can browse our extended collections online, save your favourites, and view the product details including dimensions, quality and materials.”originals.com.sg Grey and Sanders – Terrific tables and sofasGrey and Sanders are trying to make it a little easier for you to shop from home. You can head to the store’s website and buy the full range of natural-edge tables and custom sofas directly. High-resolution images of each piece will help you get a better idea of the product’s details and unique characteristics.The team says: “This year, we’ve added some new and exciting fabrics to our range of upholstery choices. We’re also bringing in a small selection of exotic timbers for those looking for unique statement pieces.”greyandsanders.com Scanteak – Scandi furniture fixBrowse the Scanteak website for durable teak furniture in trendy Scandinavian designs. There is price transparency between the products in-store and online, as well as a live chat function on standby for answering any queries. From time to time, you’ll also find exclusive online sales, so watch out for those!The team says: “We’re bringing in new dining chairs, beds, sideboards and dining tables, with introductory prices. We’ve also got an upgraded version of our popular functional bookshelf. And we have more products made from recycled materials or responsibly sourced material.”scanteak.com.sg Just Anthony – Antique huntingIt’s always a treat rummaging around the fascinating Just Anthony store, but now you can jump online and find a hidden treasure, too. Shop for antique and reproduction cabinets, shoe cabinets, beds, intricate door panels and home décor. The team says: “We have a heap of new table lamps, and more recently our more popular reproduction pieces are available online. We’ve expanded our antiques section, too.”justanthony.com INBALI – Tropical resort vibeWhen you can’t travel, what do you do? Get the resort feel delivered to your doorstep from INBALI. Every item is ethically made by incredible artisans on the famous Indonesian island. So, you can bring an authentic Balinese experience into your home while supporting villagers and the local economy.The team says: “We’ve had increasing requests for custommade furniture, so we’re offering affordable and highly customised products to fit any interior requirements online too. We’re able to customise anything you can dream of, regardless of dimensions, material, textile, colours and finishing.”inbali.co Living DNA – Consciously curatedYou can shop the Living DNA collections of rugs, furniture, homewares and art online – all chosen for the reliable quality and sustainable production. Owner Denise Kaur has a passion for beautifully handcrafted, soulful décor – pieces that add depth, substance and character to any home. Denise says: “We’ve just taken stock of the prettiest marbled enamelware from Turkey – it’s lightweight, easy to clean, foodsafe and stylish, to go straight from the oven to the table. I also just sourced a range of beautiful hand-painted ceramics from Vietri Sul Mare. The lemon-themed collection includes large serving plates, modular platters, dinner plates and even cutlery holders. Everything is hand-painted, dishwasher-safe and meant to be used over and over again for generations.”livingdna.sg Black & Walnut – Designer-inspiredThe range of distinctive, designer-inspired (not replica) luxury furniture from Black & Walnut won’t break the bank but it will turn your home into a unique showpiece. The team sources crafted designer furniture without the designer price tag. The team says: “Hit up our website for a first peek at the latest collections in the comfort of your own home. Plus, you’ll get to access our in-store promotions online as well.”blackandwalnut.com.sg The Cinnamon Room – Artisan-crafted décorThe award-winning contemporary rugs, carpets and unique accessories found at The Cinnamon Room are also available online. You’ll find great style inspiration and countless solutions for transforming and creating memorable spaces in your home.The team says: “Our online store offers lots of advice about rug placement to help you make the right choice. We include inspirational images of our contemporary hide rugs in situ to help you visualise the rugs in a room setting. We’ll also be adding new ranges of hand-woven dhurrie and jute rug collections.”thecinnamonroom.com European Bedding – Sleep softlyYou might be spending a bit more time at home and in bed (Netflix and chill, anyone?) so why not treat yourself to some silky soft 100 percent natural bamboo fibre sheets? Hop onto the European Bedding online store and check out their range of Heveya Bamboo sheet sets in a heap of colour varieties. They’re an excellent eco-friendly choice and they wick away moisture, keeping you dry, cool and comfortable. The team says: “Buying products from a green company like us is not just about investing in a better life for yourselves but also for others and the environment.”europeanbedding.sg Taylor B – Luxe homewareThe Taylor B online store has everything you need to create a luxurious, one-of-a-kind home. Every product has a detailed description and multiple pictures, and the site is super easy to use. From beds to dining tables, home décor and more – you can even deck out your home office.The collections include traditional to Art Deco, modern to elegant country, so you’ll be clicking “Add To Cart” in no time! taylorbdesign.com This article first appeared in the May 2020 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase a copy or subscribe so you never miss an issue!

How to work from home better!

30th April 2020 by Michaela Bisset 3 Min ReadFor most of us, this is the first time we have had to work from home – or at least for this long. Let us help you by showing you some very practical items you need to have ASAP to make working from home a breeze!Give your neck a break and have this stand do the hard work instead. It’s compact, portable and compatible with most devices. The dining room chair can only be comfy for so long – upgrade to this high-back, adjustable chair and get it delivered straight to your door! If you hadn’t heard of Zoom before this, We’re sure you have now! Make yourself look your best during your work calls with this fab light. Fun desktop entertainmentTo make working a little more fun, how about adding one of these hilarious desktop classics? There’s a tetherball set for smashing a small ball around a pole; Mini Twister, which is a version of the famous game using fingers instead; or, if you really miss the gym, try this finger weightlifting kit!You’re likely spending much more time at your home desk than ever before – right? So you need to make sure you’re seated comfortably. This orthopaedic cushion made of memory foam and gel is just the ticket. Whether it’s that your feet don’t quite touch the ground or you just love a massage, this gadget will add an extra touch of luxury. Get organised with this trendy bamboo desk organiser, ideal for everything from stationery to your smart phone. We all know it’s not good to be sitting all day, so switch things up with an adaptable desk that allows you to swtich to standing too. Bye bye, back pain! This high-grade memory-foam cushion will offer all the support you need for your lumbar. Have your home office smelling wonderful with this Presence diffuser from To Be Calm. Co-workers driving you nuts during your conference calls? Take it out on this punching bag. (It’s a good thing they won’t be able to see it!) Get your space nice and tidy with this organiser, which will have your keys, coins and gizmos neatly sorted in no time. Not a big fan of making tough decisions? Sweat not! This will do it for you and keep all your papers in place. It’s been particularly hot recently – even for Singapore – but this fan will keep you nice and cool (and punctual!). Want more home inspiration? See our Home Décor section!

Personalised art for the home

27th April 2020 by Expat Living 3 Min ReadYou’ve probably spent quite a bit of time looking at those white walls in your home lately! If you’ve been wondering what artworks would look great on them, here’s one idea. LouiseM, a French artist based in Singapore, creates personalised art that represents you. Her paintings reflect a timeline of your life – from special moments with kids to family travels – so you can create your own distinctive space at home.How does it work? After finding inspiration in your story through dialogue and listening, LouiseM applies a little of her magic and renders it into a visual idea. This then becomes a painting. And the options are endless for how you use it. You could have a giant wall mural on a canvas in your living room or master bedroom. Or, give a boost to your kitchen with a backsplash or hood panel, or replace your bedhead – even spruce up your old piano. Everything is doable – so go a little crazy and let your imagination run free! We chatted with the artist about her interesting approach.What’s your own artistic style?I don’t have just one style. Each artwork is unique and created according to the client’s request and the aspects they want to give to their interior. My paintings can be very colourful – in a style that I call “bubblegum”. Like in the backsplash (pictured above) where the illustration shows the favourite brands of everyone in the family. I can also home in on a particular colour, like the blue of the piano design, which is the favourite colour of the client, Annette. In this case, Annette also wanted a testimony from each of her friends in the painting. I also love to work with black and white shades in a more graphic style – especially to draw cities and their unwavering industrial environments.You can find the whole collection on my website and examples of my projects on Instagram too.What are the different steps in your projects?First of all, it’s important to know the final destination of your painting and its purpose. This will help define its size, the material to be used and also the desired design, depending on your interior décor. I work with pictures of your room to create a demo and to ensure it blends naturally into its new home. Then, through conversations, I’ll uncover specific topics you want to underline in your piece of personalised art. If you want the panel to convey a story about your family’s travels in Asia, for example, I’ll ask you questions about this vacation. Then, as a team, we’ll create a meaningful artwork. My main objective is for you to embrace and love the final painting as you find yourself in it.What brought you to Singapore?We decided last July that we would move here for the beginning of the school year. This was a massive upheaval for our family of seven, now scattered all over the world! I used to have fun and enjoy my workshop in Paris, but this change was an opportunity to revamp my creativity.The new adventure has turned into a beautiful and inspiring one, helping to open my mind to different perceptions and discover new landscapes, new balances to draw and reinvent. My first project orders gave me the chance to add in images that are the “essentials” of Singapore. Also, scenes of the island’s tropical jungle inspire me a lot. There is so much you can do with nature designs in a green city like this.To find out more about LouiseM’s personalised art, visit louisem.fr. LouiseM working on a personalised art projectLike this? Read more about art in our Home Décor section.

Mother’s Day Gifts (& a couple for dad too)

17th April 2020 by Rebecca Bisset 3 Min ReadIt’s time to de-clutter and pretty up your home – or the home of a loved one! Hacienda Blue has some great home accessories you can buy online. Items like trays and boxes can help you conquer the clutter and make your home look more organised. And they’ll jazz it up a bit, too! They also work as amazing gifts for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day (both of which are coming up), or all year round for birthday presents – even something with an Asian twist for a leaving present. You’ll also find Desti Saint handbags and Flower Addict bouquets and arrangements in these images and online – all perfect for Mother’s Day.As they say, a picture tells a thousand words!#1 For cutting the clutter!For decluttering and sorting your home, these trays and petite trays are perfect. There are small jewellery boxes, too. Or, go for large ones if you find you’ve got quite a lot of stuff hanging around on dressing tables. Choose soft pastels or more dramatic geometrics. #2 For a special mumFor a present for Mother’s Day (10 May) or birthdays, I suggest one of the vases, or a lovely mirror, bowl or serving platter in the iconic bone-inlay design. Hacienda Blue shares its space with Desti Saint, whose handmade handbags are beautiful and will win you major brownie points! From clutches to carry-all bags and her new backpacks, have a look at what Desti’s got in her online shop. #3 For the gentsLet’s not forget Father’s Day (21 June). If you have a nice balcony or outdoor area, I think Hacienda Blue’s hurricane lamps (below) are perfect gifts for “him at home”. The black-and-white trays in a geometric pattern make a great place to put bottles, decanters and bottle openers on top of a bar or sideboard. You’ll also find fabulous whisky glass sets, classic barbecue tool sets and gorgeous cheese boards – who doesn’t love them!? #4 For prettying a roomIf you’re just in the market for making your home a bit prettier, the side tables and table lamps are perfect home accessories and easy to place in a bedroom or living room. A nice cashmere throw will pretty up your sofa or an old armchair. Or splash out on a couple of nice coasters or a new coffee table just to give a new breath of life to your living room. Online:haciendablue.comdestisaint.comfloweraddictShop (for when things are back to normal!):17 Woking Road, #02-04 (by appointment,call 9866 1024 or email [email protected])Management and wholesale purchasing: [email protected]

A trip to Italy to find fab homeware

14th April 2020 by Expat Living 3 Min ReadDENISE KAUR is the owner of gorgeous rugs and homeware store Living DNA, and she’s passionate about her products being truly “hand-picked” and artisanal. But what does this mean? We caught up with her after a trip to the Amalfi Coast, where she went on the hunt for beautiful ceramics.Tell us about your latest sourcing trip.I went to the ancient town of Vietri Sul Mari (“Vietri by the sea”) on Italy’s Amalfi Coast. This is an important location in the history of ceramics; it was known for making the best ceramic tiles for the palaces, baths and holiday mansions of the Roman emperors. As other places in the world began to discover largescale ceramic making, this quiet remote town became somewhat forgotten. Over recent decades, though, as travellers have started uncovering the beautiful holiday destinations of South Italy, the artisans of Vietri have been rediscovered. How do you get there?There are lots of idyllic stopovers on the long drive along the Amalfi Coast. Everyone knows about the Instagram-perfect destinations of Positano and Capri, but few know the secrets of Vietri. To get there, you need to drive for two more hours down those idyllic winding scenic roads. When we arrived there, I was amazed by how the town walls were covered in ceramic tiles painted with pastoral scenes, biblical stories and everyday life. The streets come alive with old storefronts and their colourful ceramic signage.My last trip to Italy was a six-month study trip 12 years ago, so I had to revise my Italian skills very quickly to be able to work with an artisan family who didn’t speak a word of English – that was a fun challenge! It was also a feat managing a carsick toddler along the dizzying drive. Luckily, there was no shortage of splendid secluded beaches – plus gelato and granita stops – to refresh the whole family.Tell us about some of the artisans you met.Out of many old families making ceramics we met, I felt most at ease with a workshop run by two brothers. One of them, Carlo, admitted to me that the master painter in the family is their “Papa”, Egidio. Watching his effortless work was mesmerising; he would skilfully paint vines on platters while watching Italian football at the same time! Needless to say, Egidio worked on all the ceramics I chose for Living DNA on this trip.What did you like most about his work?Traditional Vietri ceramics are painted with rustic elements like animals, trees, fruits and vegetables typical of the southern coastal Italian climate. I’m sure many people will agree the prettiest would be the lemon trees that you see on the region’s picturesque cliffs. So, I chose lemons as the main design theme of our collection as I loved Signor Egidio’s depiction of them, with thick brush strokes against the recognisable Mediterranean blue and white.Who would the ceramics suit?These are items that are meant to be put in the spotlight, and what better opportunity than when entertaining? Our Italian ceramic collection includes large serving plates, modular platters for dips or starters, dinner plates and cutlery holders. Everything is hand-painted, dishwasher-safe and meant to be used over and over again for generations. It’s part of the “buy less, buy well” sustainable living practice we cultivate at Living DNA.The Vietri collection is available now, both online and in-store.Living DNA is located at [email protected], 18 Tampines Industrial Crescent, #01-10B.livingdna.sgWant more home inspiration? See our home decor section!

Home Décor: Cool old Chinese style

20th February 2020 by Melinda Murphy 3 Min ReadWhen I first got to Singapore, I thought Chinese furniture was pretty, but I couldn’t really see it fitting into my own home. Then, bit by bit, it all really started to grow on me. I remember visiting a new friend’s fairly modern home and seeing her colourful, showstopping piece of antique Chinese furniture and thinking, “Wow, that looks really good!” And then I went to another friend’s home. Again, she had a gorgeous vintage piece, even though her style of decorating was more “country”. Yet another friend had really huge pieces all throughout her home. And before long, I realised that good antique and vintage Chinese furniture looked good in everybody’s home, no matter the style. And you know what? I decided I needed a piece, too! Working with Chinese furniture coloursAdding a big, bright piece of furniture might seem a bit daring for you. If chosen well, though, it can be a true centerpiece for your home – something well-decorated homes always have. A pop of colour adds interest and depth and, if the furniture has a history (and most vintage and antique Chinese furniture does), then the piece will also be a conversation starter.“There’s really no interior style that can’t handle a piece of Chinese furniture,” says CHANTAL TRAVERS, the owner of Emperor’s Attic, a store specialising in antique and vintage Chinese furniture. “Imagine a really interesting industrial loft. How cool would a big, red Chinese cabinet look? It’d be such a contrast and a true feature piece. Or adding a colourful piece to a Scandinavian home? A cosy country cottage or a Hamptons home would both look great with a piece of Chinese furniture, too. The right piece even looks ideal in a sleek, modern Singapore apartment and amongst mid-century modern styling.” How to choose?“Take your time and look around before you buy a piece,” recommends VERITY DIBBEN, Chantal’s right hand at the store. “People often make the mistake of buying a piece of Chinese furniture when they first arrive. Take your time and get your eye. Otherwise, you’ll end up with the cheap frying-pan experience. By that I mean, if you buy a cheap frying pan that you don’t really love, you don’t throw it out; you keep it and use it everyday, even though it’s not what you really want and it’s not doing the job. If you rush to buy a piece of Chinese furniture that you don’t really love, you’ll end up keeping it for years and living with it every day, even though it doesn’t really make you happy – just like the frying pan. When you find the right piece, you’ll ‘zing’, and you’ll know it’s the one for you.” Supplies are limitedIf you do happen to ‘zing’, buy the piece right then and there. Most pieces are one of a kind. And don’t wait to buy one until you repatriate. Materials are getting harder to find. Inventory is dropping. Craftsmen are retiring and fewer people are training to take their places. And, of the craftspeople who do remain, each asks for a pay raise after every Chinese New Year, driving prices ever higher. The coronavirus has also complicated supply chains. All this means that there are fewer and fewer pieces available to buy. So, if in the back of your head you think, “I’ll get a beautiful Chinese furniture piece before I repatriate,” you might want to reconsider and buy sooner. The time to buy is now!Want to start smaller?If you’re worried about adding a big piece, why not start small? You could buy a ginger jar or a beautiful lantern. There are other ways to bring Chinese beauty into your home.Learn more about Chantal, the woman behind Emperor’s Attic, in our profile story here, then check out the store’s website.Like this? Read more in our Living in Singapore section!