House Tour: A palatial condominium apartment in Sembawang
Having lived in the US for four and a half years, engineer Andrei Teo and wife Averyl Chen, a finance executive assistant, were heavily influenced by Western as well as European design elements such as coffered ceilings and fireplaces. The former, in particular, was something the couple definitely wanted in their new home in Sembawang. “We love coffered ceilings, but most of the interior designers we consulted were clueless as to what they were,” Andrei recalls. “Then we came across some photos of a project by Cottage Crafts, which featured them in the right way,” adds Averyl.
A coffered ceiling has decorative recesses or indentations on its surface, and is commonly seen in ancient Greek, Renaissance and Roman architecture. Famous examples can be found in the Pantheon in Italy and the Palace of Versailles in France. They can also be found in American architecture in a variety of styles and applications.
Cottage Craft designer, Daniel Ho, is no stranger to them. “We have had a lot of experience with European-style interiors over the years, so we are used to customising or tweaking to suit clients’ preferences,” he says.
With coffered ceilings, height is a prerequisite – and something the couple’s top floor condo had lots of. They chose the living room for this treatment and it turned out to be a bit of a challenge. “In order to achieve a uniform grid, we took a long time to work out the coffer sizes relative to the ceiling dimensions with Ho and the contractor, ” says Andrei.
“It was important that the proportions were right. The positioning of the chandelier and the sofa in relation to the coffered ceiling also had to be carefully considered,” adds Ho. The result made it all worthwhile. Upon entering the home, the coffered ceiling is a showstopper. Drawing one’s gaze upwards, it adds a somewhat palatial aura and makes you feel like you have stepped into a mansion.
Enhancing the European-American theme are wainscoting panels, which run along the lower section of the walls, and the quintessential fireplace and mantelpiece purchased in the US and transported from their former five-room flat in Punggol.
They could not bear to part with it, so they dismantled it and asked Ho to incorporate it into the new living room. Before, it sat directly on the floor and served as a faux fireplace. This time, it is elevated on a console to create a hearth effect, and frames the TV.
The couple also brought over a lot of other furniture from their Punggol flat, such as the dining set and the armchairs flanking the fireplace feature. Some pieces were shipped from their US home when they returned to Singapore. “They were well made and in good shape. All we had to do was to reupholster them and add a fresh coat of paint,” says Averyl.
They also repurposed a few pieces. For example, the four-poster bed from Punggol didn’t fit into the new smaller bedroom, so they removed the posts and suspended them over the dining table, gazebo-style, which complements the balcony setting. Excess mouldings from their previous home renovations were used to create wall features in one bedroom they turned into a dressing room.
Furniture such as the sofa was custom-made by Design Intervention’s Nikki Hunt whose husband Stephen is Averyl’s boss. “I saw the sofa when I went for my job interview and it was love at first sight. When my boss knew we were moving into our new home, he offered to get Nikki to make us one,” shares Averyl. The navy blue is a little on the adventurous side for the couple, but Ho talked them into it and they have no regrets. “A sofa is a key piece within the home, so it should stand out,” he adds.
What’s more, the apartment is so well-kept, Home & Decor was surprised to learn that they’d been in the new place for a year. “We are at work a lot, but we do treasure our time at home. We especially enjoy hanging out in the living room with its high ceiling and sense of openness, and the music room,” says Andrei.