Redefining the Black-and-White

Having lived in a Black-and-White bungalow for over 20 years, this family of four decided to inject the essence of the colonial style into their new apartment home.
"We loved being surrounded by greenery, and having the space to throw parties. But living in a black-and-white house is really hard work," says Mrs Else Kyrkjebø of their homes at Alexandra Park and Ridley Park.

The family, who are permanent residents, have been living in Singapore for the last 23 years. Her husband is in the shipping business, while she is a fulltime mum to their two children, aged 19 and 21.

Mrs Kyrkjebø recalls the family once had to deal with a 3.5m long snake in the bathroom, and a ceiling that caved in on another occasion.

"But we also had reservations about moving into an apartment," she says. "We were afraid of being too boxed in." Their fears were unfounded. The apartment which they have called home for the past three years, is a spacious 3,700sq ft unit near Orchard Road. "It is an old apartment, hence we have the luxury of space," says Mrs Kyrkjebø.

As the unit is on a low floor, she still gets to enjoy the greenery as the apartment faces the canopy of surrounding trees. Having seen the works of award-winning interior designer William Chan of Spacedge Designs, the family decided he was the man for the job.

"The family wanted a home that has clean lines, simple, and practical," says Mr Chan. That meant knocking down non-structural walls to make the apartment look bigger, doing away with unnecessary bathrooms and bedrooms, and concealing storage space around the home.

"You can see everywhere in the apartment from any spot," says Mr Chan. That includes the private lift area, where instead of a conventional wooden door, the main door is a large glass door that swivels.

"I wanted to create an immediate sense of light, air and space, when the family step out of the lift."
The living and family areas are on split levels, with the dining area located near the windows. The kitchen is an open concept one.

"The kitchen appliances and pantry are hidden behind sliding doors, to give a neater appearance," says Mr Chan. The bedrooms doors also sit flush with the wall for a seamless look.

Mr Chan reconfigured existing spaces, such as in the couple's bedroom, to create a bigger bathroom, and a walk-in wardrobe. For their son, Paal, Mr Chan created a music room, where the national serviceman and his friends can play the drums.

To get a sense of lightness, a conscious decision was made to have a neutral palette around the home, from the light coloured marble flooring to the largely bare, white walls.

Colour is injected instead through furniture and accessories. "I also like using flowers to add colour to the apartment," says Mrs Kyrkjebø. For Christmas, she had red flowers around the home, and now that it is spring in the Northern Hemisphere, there are yellow tulips on display.

She also makes it a point to light candles around the home. "Singapore is so warm we don't need candles here, but I like to light them for that Nordic touch," she says.

The Kyrkjebøs say they don't really miss living in a black-and-white house. "It is great, waking up each day, seeing a bright home, and not having problems such as termites to worry about," says Mrs Kyrkjebø.