House Tour: A home that IS a cafe!

Mr Aeden Tang's 4A HDB flat in Choa Chu Kang looks very much like a cafe, from the display chiller in his kitchen to the chalkboard menu hanging above it. Even his 10-seater dining table is furnished with mismatched chairs - a style much loved by owners of hipster cafes here.

His very maximalist home is an ode to his love of cafes.

As a student in Texas and Iowa in the United States in the 1980s, he worked for a catering business, where he became enamoured with the beauty of food display.

He opened a cafe in Siem Reap in Cambodia earlier this year, but closed it recently and returned to Singapore.

So, when it came to decorating his flat last year, "cafe" was very much the theme from the start.

The centrepiece is his $2,000 chiller, which acts as a divider between the dining room and kitchen.

The 57-year-old bachelor, who retired from his vice-president position in a bank seven years ago, says: "I was always fascinated with how nice food looks in a chiller. So when I had my own home, I insisted on having one."

In it, he keeps drinks, cakes, desserts and salads. He also has a regular fridge with a freezer.

He removed the walls of a third room to accommodate his 2.4m- long table - so large that two men had to carry it up six flights of stairs instead of taking the lift.

He decided to redo the interiors of the home after his mother, whom he lived with, died three years ago. He bought the flat, measuring about 1,000 sq ft, seven years ago.

On its previous design, he says: "It looked like an old folks' home because my mother needed grab bars and ramps to help her get around. And she didn't like fancy details around the home, so it was just plain and simple."

For the $150,000 overhaul - the price tag includes furniture - Mr Tang worked with Mr Ivan Ong, 40, from Ideal Design Interior to get the look. He completed the renovation last year.

By his own admission, Mr Tang was a "fussy" customer as he wanted specific designs he found on the Internet. Must-haves included a feature wall made of wood pallet pieces.

Another unusual feature are the kitchen shelves, which are partially covered with frosted glass panels on rollers. This open-concept storage style works for Mr Tang as he does not do heavy-duty cooking, but boils and steams food instead, so minimal cleaning is needed.

Mr Ong says: "His ideas were very special and some of the things he wanted were not available in Singapore. Other clients can be more easily convinced to change their plans, but not him. So we worked towards finding solutions."

Despite the complexity of the project, Mr Tang says: "I refused to compromise because I knew I wanted this look. But the contractors loved me - I helped them work on the flat like tearing up the pallets."

His apartment is a riot of colours, accentuated by his eclectic furniture and accessories. These include a bonnet of a tractor's head from India that he bought from a women's clothing store at Clarke Quay Central mall and has been turned into a bar counter table.

His flat has been a hit with friends. He hosts pot-luck dinners here every two to three weeks. A friend's daughter also used his home to shoot her wedding pictures in March. He says: "She came over once and fell in love with it instantly. The look of this home is something, I think, no one else has."

This article was first published on July 18, 2015. 
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