Friday, 22 August, 2014

Published March 15, 2014
Personal Space
Forever a work-in-progress
From hotels, magazines and TV shows, Charles Yap gleans ideas for his sleek Telok Blangah home. By Tay Suan Chiang
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Mr Yap manages to have a somewhat industrial chic look, but by using alternative materials, for example, in his living room (above), rather than have raw concrete walls, wallpaper that resemble concrete was used instead. It is the same in his bedroom. - PHOTO: YEN MENG JIIN

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'I wanted something clean and simple for the interiors ... I like everything flushed, so when all the cupboard doors are closed, you get a clean, sleek look.'
Mr Yap, who wanted a place that he could truly call his own personal space |

HAVING spent seven years working in the hotel industry, Charles Yap thought of his favourite hotels when he was doing up his home in Telok Blangah. "You could say I was inspired by the good hotels that I stayed in," he says, where his favourites include the Hilton in Kuala Lumpur and the W hotels in Taipei and New York.

Then, he continues in almost the same breath, "but I was not going for the 'hotel look'."

The media executive for an international TV network merely wanted a place that he could truly call his own. "You can't personalise too much when you live in a rental apartment, but with this apartment, I could put my stamp on it," says Mr Yap of his first home purchase.

He added that apart from hotels, he also found ideas through home decor magazines as well as from the television series Million Dollar Decorators. "From the show, I picked up tips such as the best way to place furniture, and how to play with lamps," says Mr Yap. "I'm still changing things here and there, so the home is forever a work-in-progress."

He was attracted by the apartment's location, which looks out to the glitzy Reflections at Keppel Bay. Henderson Waves is just around the corner where Mr Yap has been doing his morning runs. Interior-wise, he liked the apartment's linear layout.

"I wanted something clean and simple for the interiors," he says. He thought about going with the industrial chic theme, but decided otherwise. "I'm too anal to have open trunking in the home," he quips. Still, he managed to have a somewhat industrial chic look but by using alternative materials.

For example, in place of concrete screed flooring, Mr Yap opted for dark grey tiles. In his living room, again, rather than have raw concrete walls, wallpaper that resemble concrete was used instead. It is the same in his bedroom. What looks like wooden strips that run the length of his bedroom, is actually wallpaper. His bathroom floor looks like it is made of wood, but are actually tiles.

The frequent traveller slips in that he selected white, rectangular wall tiles for his bathroom, because, he wanted the shower area to have that "New York subway feel".

Out in the kitchen and dining area, a row of white full-height cupboards reveal themselves to be more than mere storage space. Mr Yap opens two doors, revealing a hideaway desk. "Sometimes I have to take conference calls at night, so it is good to have a proper work space that is fully equipped, but can be hidden when not needed," he says. Another door reveals a fridge behind it.

In the kitchen area, Mr Yap lifts open a cabinet door, revealing the cooking area with an induction stove. "I like everything flushed, so when all the cupboard doors are closed, you get a clean, sleek look," he says.

In keeping with the sleek look is the simple island counter in the middle of the apartment. One end hides the washing machine, with an attached sink and more drawers, while the other end is the dining table. It is here that Mr Yap indulges in his tea drinking hobby. He pulls open a drawer, which is packed to the brim with tea cups and Chinese clay teapots.

"It is funny how I went crazy about Chinese tea, not in Singapore, but while living in London some years ago," says Mr Yap. His favourite is pu'er, and his most precious personal item, a teapot made of purple sand. The teapot, part of a set of six similar pieces, was made in Taiwan in 1998 and has the entire script of Sun Tzu's The Art of War inscribed on its cover. The micro script can be viewed using a magnifying glass provided. "I actually did not like this when my parents gave it to me some years ago, but I have grown to like it more and more," says Mr Yap.

When at home, he is either at the island counter, or on the sofa watching television. The TV is hung on the wall, in between two windows. Mr Yap explains its rather odd placement. "Sometimes, it gets too bright to watch the telly, but still I wanted it here, so that regardless of where I am in the apartment, I can always watch TV," he explains.

He initially wanted the sofa to face the wall, but changed his mind, when his interior designer suggested that it face the windows. "From the sofa, I get a view of the greenery outside, which is better than looking at a wall," says Mr Yap.

When it comes to home furnishings, some items were bought brand new, while others are pieces that Mr Yap shipped back, from his days of living in London. They include a black seater and side tables, both made in the 1950s that were purchased at a vintage market. He happily recalls how he found a shoe rack while in Paris, and "I hand carried it back on the Eurostar; another time, I lugged back a pair of Celia Birtwell rugs while taking the bus home".

When it comes to buying accessories, Mr Yap likes them in red. "It is a strong colour, and I like red accents and red detailing," he says, explaining his choice of a red side console and a red London toy bus.

The decorative items are all kept outside the bedroom for a reason. "I keep the look of my bedroom simple and clean because the room is solely for sleeping."

Friends who have visited the apartment comment on its zen-like feel. "For me, the apartment feels very homely, which is how it should be," Mr Yap says.