Upcycled wine crates are used as shelves in the living room, especially for the toy collections of home owners Marcus Wong and Gayle Tan. ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

They say that opposites attract, but for married couple Marcus Wong, 33, and Gayle Tan, 32, it is their shared love of pop culture that has made them a great pair, especially when it came to designing their home. They even named their newborn son Logan Finn, after the Marvel Comics character Wolverine and the protagonist of the American animated series Adventure Time.

Home owners Marcus Wong and Gayle Tan (above, with their son, Logan Finn). ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

Mr Wong, a digital marketing manager, is a self-professed geek and Ms Tan is, well, an accommodating wife. He is responsible for most of the design choices in their four-room Housing Board flat in Queenstown.

"He has a good eye for design, so I left those aspects to him. I just wanted something cosy," says Ms Tan, a communications manager.

The couple also hired interior design firm Fuse Concept to renovate their 893 sqf flat, which has an industrial theme.

A warm-toned faux-brick wall, created from craftstone, is the focal point of the living room and the backdrop for Mr Wong to display some of his Transformers action figures and a 65-inch television set.

Other decorations include comic books, film posters and a Great Gatsby cushion that offset the cement screed walls and floor with touches of colour.

Initially, the couple had reservations about whether their home would look too hipster. "But we decided that as long as we injected a lot of personal touches, like little knick-knacks from our childhood, that would pull it back from being hipster, which connotes elements you have no real history with but are co-opting," says Mr Wong.

Ms Tan adds: "We put in small touches of whimsy that also hold our memories."

To warm up the living room's industrial elements, the couple "added a lot more wood and natural, organic textures", says Mr Wong.

Take, for example, the upcycled wine crates they approached Wine Connection for. The bar sold them its discarded crates for $10 each. The crates were mounted on the wall to create display shelving for their toys, such as Ms Tan's vintage Polly Pocket collection and figurines from the video game Bomberman.

The couple moved into the flat two years ago after a five-week renovation that cost $80,000.

While her husband made most of the design decisions, there is one room in the apartment where Ms Tan wears the pants – the walk-in wardrobe which she wanted. "We removed one wall and turned two bedrooms into a bigger master bedroom, so we could play with the space," she says.

A storage wall, finished in cement screed to match the living room, separates the bed from the wardrobe area, which also leads into the bathroom.

The master bedroom. ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

The bedroom, although rather minimalist, bears traces of Mr Wong's penchant for grown-up toys.

"I have to live with Godzillas in my bedroom," Ms Tan laments wryly.

"They are very tastefully selected," her husband insists.



Even the nursery, which served as a study until their six-week-old baby came along, has not been spared. More of Mr Wong's Transformers collection is displayed on a shelf.

But the rest of the room's decor is age-appropriate. For a cosy yet airy look and feel, the couple decorated the nursery in pastel tones and natural wood. They installed modified Ikea wall shelving to display new editions of books they read and loved as children, such as the Babar, Tintin and Peter Rabbit series. A framed poster of a polar bear illustration, a $50 purchase from e-commerce site Etsy, hangs above the cot.

"We also wanted to make sure the room could grow with the baby," Ms Tan says. "The Leander cot we got from Motherswork, a gift from his grandparents, can be expanded and used up to the age of 10."

At that point, it will be up to him to make his own design choice between Godzillas and Transformers.


This article was written by May Seah for The Straits Times