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Shopping: Want to customise your furniture? Here's where you can

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Home owner Nicholas Koh's custom-made sofa still wows repeat guests.ST PHOTO: JEREMY KWAN

Ms Sandy Huang had been searching for her dream sofa for three weeks and was about to buy whatever could fit her home when she saw a small wooden sign stuck in a grass verge while walking around the Eunos area.

It was a sign by Blafink, a local furniture shop specialising in custom upholstered sofas and bed frames, that has a showroom in the vicinity.

"When I walked into the showroom and saw the colourful prints by Kitty McCall, I was immediately sold," says the 37-year-old, referring to the United Kingdom-based graphic designer who supplies fabric to Blafink.

Ms Huang and her husband, Mr Nicholas Koh, 39, had just moved into their five-room Housing Board flat in Woodlands in mid-2016. They were looking for a standout sofa to be the focal point of their home's eclectic theme.

She ended up picking a "crazy" print - bold geometric shapes in striking colours against a subtle animal print - for the sofa frame with the help of her interior designer. She also requested a sofa that is a metre in depth, so that she can "sit cross-legged on it in front of the TV".

Two years on, her sofa, which she paid more than $4,200 for, is still garnering attention from guests.

"Everyone who comes to our place is always very 'wowed'. Even if he has been here before, he'll ask if I changed the colour or did something to it. It's a crazy print, but no one seems to really remember the exact design," says Ms Huang, who works as the head of operations at a technology company.

She is not alone in her search for unique furniture pieces. Furniture stores say more home owners are on the hunt for one-off pieces and some have turned to customising their furniture to fulfil that desire.

"When you customise furniture, you're receiving exactly what you want. It's not something you settle for or buy on impulse. There's some emotional tie involved," says Ms Ashley Choo, 36, co-owner of Blafink.

"There is also a certain longevity to it. Chances are, because it's built for you, you'll use it for a longer time versus something you bought off the shelf and can just sell when you're sick of it."

Besides exclusivity, custom furniture also serves practical needs.

Ms Zee Tan, 28, creative lead of local furniture store etch&bolts, says new home owners tend to go for the same wood colour and finish across different pieces of furniture in their living room for a cohesive look.

"It can be difficult to get the same colour and finish if you purchase pieces from separate stores, so some home owners come to us to custom-make a set," says Ms Tan.

Founder of Your Furniture Gregory Torreguitart, 41, says small apartment sizes in Singapore also increase the need to custom-fit furniture into tight spaces.

He also gets requests from expatriates who ship their mattresses to Singapore from overseas, but cannot find a suitable bed frame for them.

"It's difficult to find bed frames for mattresses that are not standard Singapore sizes, so customising one for the mattress is the way to go," says the Frenchman, who has lived in Singapore for five years.

Furniture companies say the cost of customisation depends on the extent of work, but it may not necessarily break the bank.

Mr Torreguitart's prices are 20 to 50 per cent cheaper than big-brand furniture stores that customise products of the same quality because there is no middleman in the process.

Ms Choo from Blafink says her sofas are priced similarly to other mid-to high-end furniture shops that sell ready-made pieces.

But they note that prices can go up depending on the complexity of the design and the choice of materials.

"A custom piece reflects your character. You're paying for the workmanship as well as the small details," says Mr Morgan Yeo, 30, the second-generation owner of Roger&Sons.

He and his two brothers took over their father's carpentry business in 2014 and rebranded it to offer customised carpentry work that is produced in Singapore.

"To us, our bespoke furniture is furniture that will last a lifetime. We hope they will eventually become heirloom pieces that can be passed down for generations," says Mr Yeo.

Where you can customise furniture

Blafink

This hood sofa in navy blue was customised with deeper seats to suit its tall owners. PHOTO: BLAFINK

Where: 07-17 and 08-04 Richfield Industrial Centre, 122 Eunos Avenue 7

It is hard to run out of options at local furniture store Blafink.

Started in 2015, Blafink - a name inspired by the blue finch bird - has a fabric inventory of 5,000 to 6,000 swatches that run the gamut from neutral solid colours to eye-catching nature prints.

The shop specialises in customising upholstered sofas and bed frames, along with a selection of chairs, benches and footstools that may also be upholstered.

The fabrics on offer are split into four categories, with prices for the economical in-house fabric imported from China and Turkey starting at $35 a metre.

On the higher end is designer fabric imported from the United Kingdom, which averages $150 a metre. Blafink also works with local textile designer brand EmekSunday.

A customised 2.1m three-seater sofa starts at $2,290 and the wait time is around six to eight weeks.

etch&bolts

A table, two chairs and urban map canvas customised by local furniture store etch&bolts. PHOTO: ETCH&BOLTS

Where: Level 2 CRF Building, 3 Little Road

What started as an online furniture shop in April 2014 branched out into a physical showroom within three months of its opening, as the founders of etch&bolts realised that some customers prefer to view the furniture designs in person.

The showroom is also where customers look at the catalogue of 30 to 40 sofa designs and choose from 300 types of fabric.

Sofas and dining tables are etch&bolts' two most popular items, with marble tabletops such as granite and quartz proving to be the trendy options this year.

As each slab of marble is unique in its pattern, customers choose their preferred piece and the assembly of the table is done at a local workshop.

A customised fabric sofa starts at $1,700, while a 1.4m-long marble table starts at $2,000.

Each piece takes about three to five weeks to complete.

Roger&Sons

This whisky bar, custom-made by Roger&Sons, has a rotating shelf that can be swivelled to display the bottles. PHOTO: LINCOLN YEO

Where: For more information, go to www.rogerandsons.sg

Second-generation owner Morgan Yeo and his two brothers took over the family-owned business, then known as JR&P Industries, in 2014 and rebranded it as Roger&Sons, offering customised carpentry work.

A solid wood dining table made from oak and khaya, which is a type of mahogany found locally, is Roger&Sons' most requested item.

It also makes a wide variety of wood products, including shelves, stools and even ladders.

The team works with its clients to conceptualise ideas according to individual needs, translates them into design and makes the finished product by hand in its in-house workshop.

A customised dining table starts at $3,800 and the wait time is around eight weeks.

Roger&Sons will open a showroom in November.

Your Furniture

A table and bench set in recycled boat wood customised by furniture shop Your Furniture. PHOTO: YOUR FURNITUREWhere: For more information, go to www.yourfurniture.com.sg

Where: For more information, go to  www.yourfurniture.com.sg

Nothing is new at Your Furniture, when it comes to the material used, that is.

Opened in February 2014, the furniture shop uses only reclaimed teak and recycled boat wood sourced from Indonesia in its custom pieces.

Owner Gregory Torreguitart shies away from new teak, otherwise known as plantation teak, as he says it is generally not dry enough to withstand changes in temperature and is more prone to cracks.

Old teak, like he uses, is much drier and will last longer.

Dining tables and bed frames are his most ordered items.

Design, dimensions and finishing are all customisable and international shipping is available.

A customised 2m-long dining table in reclaimed teak starts at $1,500, while a basic queen-size bed frame ranges from $1,500 to $2,000. The wait time is around six to seven weeks.

Your Furniture is in the process of opening a new showroom.

Custo

At Custo, homeowners can design and create their own cabinets and shelves to fit any space. PHOTO: COURTESY OF CUSTO

Where: For more information, go to customizedstorage.com

Custo is a one-stop online furniture design platform that allows users to customize their own storage furniture in an easy and affordable way.

The brand offers fully made-to-measure storage furniture, such as shelves, cupboards and sideboards.

On the website, customers select the storage furniture they want to build.

They key in the dimensions required, such as the height, width and also the depth of the cabinet.

They can decide how many rows and columns of storage shelves they need, and whether they want doors, feet, and loose drawers built in.

Custo gets local workshops to make the plywood furniture.

Prices start from S$200 depending on the dimensions and options.

You can either assemble the pieces yourself by following a manual, or pay a small fee for it to be done for you.

 

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on 22 September 2018, with the headline 'Furniture just the way you like it: Homeowners turning to bespoke furniture'. Click here to read the original story