From minimalism to maximalist design, Singapore apartment full of vintage furniture, collectibles and art is a delight for the senses
- The owners of a 4,100 sq ft apartment in Singapore used to be minimalists. A trip to France inspired them to make their home a riot of colour, texture and taste
- The flat is a showcase of luxe homeware and artworks, each room filled with collectibles, vintage furniture, eclectic art and exuberant patterns
One of the many benefits of international travel is the way it can open up the imagination. For the owners of this 4,100 sq ft (381 square metre) flat in Singapore’s leafy Mount Sinai area, a holiday in the south of France sparked a light-bulb moment that has since transformed how the family lives.
“We used to be kind of minimalists,” says Singaporean entrepreneur Amy Long, who shares the four-bedroom, four-bathroom flat with her husband and daughters, Sierra, eight and Willow, five.
“The turning point was when we rented this little cottage in St Tropez one year that was so full of character. It had an amazing collection of mid-century objets and art; then other crazy things, like sun hats in the foyer. And it made us realise you can go nuts in your house, and it will look fine. It’s even better that way because it’s things that are meaningful for you.”
Soon after, Long started building her own collections piece by piece: Murano glass, Majolica pottery and Constance Spry mantle vases for starters. Some were market finds, others hunted down on the internet. She once carted 125kg (276 pounds) of excess luggage, full of coveted curios, from New York back to Singapore.
By the time the family moved into this flat, in late 2018, to be closer to the girls’ school, and after three months of planning and a 10-week renovation, they were maximalists.
Long admits the flat is now at saturation point. She has had to adopt a one-in, one-out policy, which must be hard for someone who this year launched (with fellow Harvard Business School alumni) the Hong Kong-based online marketplace Vermillion, for which she is the general manager Asia-Pacific (excluding China).
The site boasts a hand-picked showcase of luxury homeware and Asian artworks, featuring the work of Hongkongers Stanley Wong Ping-pui and Alan Chan, and that of artists and artisans across the region.
Long’s combination of collectibles, vintage furniture, eclectic art and layers of exuberant patterns, textures and colours has created a home that is a cornucopia of delight.
It’s a far cry from the appearance of the apartment when the family took possession. Think faux 1990s Balinese style with heavy wood and artificial stone walls. It spoke nothing of the cosmopolitan lifestyles Long and her husband have led, between them having studied and worked in a score of cities around the world. For Long, that includes Hong Kong, where she lived with her parents while at high school.
Thankfully, the home’s original layout was ideal. So aside from removing the false ceiling and some oddly placed columns that divided and darkened the lounge, and an unwanted, oversized jacuzzi in the main bathroom, all changes made were decorative.
For those, Long appointed Singapore-based British interior designer Elizabeth Hay. A feng shui master was also consulted.
The starting point for their design concept was the living room’s scenic wallpaper, a mainstay of Hay’s projects.
“Moving from a house set-up, I was conscious that if you’re in an apartment, it’s a white box,” says Long. “You have to work extra hard to create architectural interest where there is none.”
The “Early Views of India” de Gournay scene chosen is transformative. “It’s like a fantasy, but you’re still in Asia,” says Long.
The image’s influence echoes around the flat. It sets up the whimsical Mughal arches that have been constructed in the doorways and cabinetry: an idea Long first saw in pictures of the home of legendary American style icon Bunny Mellon. And its palette of lapis blue, terracotta and marigold accents inform the colour scheme throughout.
“All the spaces are kind of connected,” says Long. “It flows, but each space also feels like its own destination.”
The vintage furniture pieces add to that feeling. Mindful of waste, Long vowed to reuse as much of their “old stuff” as possible, so each piece has been refurbished, reupholstered or repurposed specifically for the new room it occupies.
It has kept the costs of the refurbishment down, as has keeping the original neutral timber and stone flooring and bathroom finishes. It has also added to the home’s jewel box-like-effect: each room housing a jumble of treasures that range from ornamental to geometric to fruity.
Long did go nuts, but the result is way better than fine.
Homeowner Amy Long sets a scene against de Gournay’s Early Views of India wallpaper (degournay.com). She sits on one of a pair of vintage leather and teak safari chairs brought from the family’s previous home, reupholstered in Bhutanese raw silk weave from Namay Samay (namaysamay.com).
The large coffee table by Corner 43 Decor (corner43.com) also came from their previous home. On it sits a John Derian tray from The Lacquer Company (thelacquercompany.com) with some of Long’s vintage and antique collectibles and new pieces from Vermillion (vermillionlifestyle.com). The bronze sculpture is a limited-edition Jean Megard, circa 1977, from Galerie Artocarpus (instagram.com/artocarpus_galerie).
The sofa on the left was from Flexform (flexform.it). The sofa on the right, the side table beside Long and the wool and hemp rug were all custom made via Elizabeth Hay Design (elizabethhaydesign.com).
The dining room, used when there are guests, is a dream come true for a displayer such as Long. The pre-existing double-sided glass cabinet holds her favourite 1930s to ’60s hobnail milk glass pieces; and Constance Spry and Julian Chichester mantle vases.
The Branching Bubble chandelier (lindseyadelman.com), from their previous home, illuminates the cane Ton chairs (ton.eu) and the Mastercraft-style table, custom made through Elizabeth Hay Design. Atop the 1920s French art deco cerused oak sideboard, from 1stDibs (1stdibs.com), sit two plaster lamps by Dorian Caffot de Fawes (dorian-antiques.com).
The walls are covered in Palm Drop Squid Ink/Brick fabric by Beata Heuman (shoppa.beataheuman.com) and seagrass, supplied by Stereo Interiors (stereointeriors.co.uk). The Aerin Lauder sconce was from Circa Lighting (circalighting.com) and the geometric art piece beside it was a commission by Richard Witham (gallerywitham.blogspot.com).
Bookending the room at each end are Long’s collection of framed vintage postcards from the 1890s to 1940s.
Vintage McCoy stoneware vases and 19th century Japanese plates are the focal point in the study. It’s a workhorse of a room, where the family watches films, the girls practise the cello and Long’s husband takes work calls (at an out-of-view desk). Custom made via Elizabeth Hay Design were the Javanese sofa and ottoman, covered in Pierre Frey linen (pierrefrey.com).
The lamp shades were made to order using a Madeleine Castaing-designed fabric by Brunschwig & Fils (kravet.com) and the wall sconces were by Vaughan (vaughandesigns.com). The height-adjustable children’s stool came from MuTable (mutable-design.com) and the wool rug from The Grey House (thegreyhouseonline.com).
Carrying the theme from the scenic wallpaper in the lounge through the flat, Mughal arches have been built into the home’s doorways and these expansive bookshelves in the family room. The handles on the cabinet doors came from Restoration Hardware (rh.com). The antique Anglo-Indian trunk in the background was from the Past Perfect Collection (pastperfect.sg).
Long’s home office is a case study in making something of nothing. The blue marble desk and cabinets came with the flat but the plain room was “drab”. The Pineapple wallpaper by Hygge & West (hyggeandwest.com) was applied, then Long created a tented ceiling effect using Thibaut’s New Haven Stripe wall covering (thibautdesign.com) and Samuel & Sons tape trim (samuelandsons.com), instantly making the room more fantastical.
The Leafy Pendant tole lamp was from Coleen & Co (coleenandcompany.com) and the chair from Ballard Designs (ballarddesigns.com). The rug was made in India, ordered through Elizabeth Hay Design. Barbara Ceramic pieces from Vermillion and a vintage Wedgewood vase adorn the desktop.
Crazy about the Josef Frank print Citrus Garden by Schumacher (fschumacher.com), Long has swathed the bedroom in the fabric, including on the custom bed ordered through Elizabeth Hay Design. Its colours are picked up in the Antoinette Poisson domino paper art pieces (antoinettepoisson.com) on the wall.
The Noir Trading bedside tables (noirfurniturela.com), from Long’s previous home, have been stripped of their original black paint to suit the new space. On them sit Christopher Spitzmiller lamps from Circa Lighting.
The contrasting modern art by the window is by Hong Kong artist Wing Chan (wing-chan.com). The circa 1750s antique Spanish trunk has been with the family for years. The colourful dhurrie, placed for feng shui purposes, was from Vimla International (vimlainternational.com).
Sisters and best friends, Sierra and Willow share this rosy room and its en suite. The fabric bedheads were custom made via Elizabeth Hay Design, covered in Lisa Fine’s Rajkot print (lisafinetextiles.com). The cotton kantha blankets were from Etsy. The wallpaper is Quadrille’s Kalamkari (quadrillefabrics.com).
On the custom side table is a lamp from Pooky Lighting (pooky.com) and Mooyee hand-painted bone china pieces from Vermillion.
Tried + Tested
The walk-in wardrobe off the main bedroom was dated and plain. Instead of ripping out and replacing the perfectly functional existing cabinetry, Amy Long simply wallpapered over it and changed the doorknobs. New ceiling lights and an elongating vintage Moroccan kilim were added, instantly and cost-effectively transforming the space.
The wallpaper on the doors is Camona by Anna Spiro (annaspirotextiles.com.au) and on the ceiling is Thibaut’s Channels. The Clark lights are by Thomas O’Brien, bought at Circa Lighting. The rug was used as the kitchen runner in the family’s previous home.