'I LOVE BLACK AND WHITE HOUSES, BUT CANNOT OWN ONE, SO I DO A PSEUDO ONE . . . THE LOOK I WANTED IS A LITTLE BIT OF BLACK AND WHITE, AND ECLECTIC, MIXED TOGETHER.'
MOST parents know that when you have young children, having a pristine home can be a challenge. Kids being kids should be allowed to play freely and naturally things can sometimes get messy.
So it is a surprise to see how clean and neat Jeff Cheong and Faith Koh's home is. The couple have three kids, Seth, nine, Beth, seven and three-and-a-half year old Janneth. The kids lounge with their feet on the sofa, and save for the toys in their rooms, the home feels more like a couple's abode rather than a family home.
But when Mr Cheong says the magic words, the kids know what to do. "They are free to play, but when I want the home neat again, I say to them, 'Alright kids, make nice nice like showroom condition.'"
He adds that his children have grown up with designer furniture pieces and lots of Lego displays and they have been accustomed to caring for items around the home. "They also know the expectation of cleaning up," he says. The Lego displays are from the Star Wars collection which Seth and his friends gladly put together for Mr Cheong.
The family home is a three-storey terrace house at Telok Kurau, which was built over 20 years ago. "The interiors were reconfigured to better suit our needs," says Mr Cheong, vice-president at advertising agency Tribal Worldwide.
Keen observers will notice that the house has a black and white facade, compared to its neighbours' off-white variation. "I love black and white houses, but cannot own one, so I do a pseudo one," he says. The black and white look follows through into the home, with the help of monochromatic blinds. "The black and white lines run horizontal on the blinds, but on the traditional bamboo blinds, they are vertical. I try where I can to recreate that look," says Mr Cheong.
On the inside, the home is tastefully done up, just about resembling a showroom. To get the look that he wanted, the house-proud Mr Cheong did up a mood board for his interior designer from Projectfile, which included pictures of material samples, such as wood, stone and pebble wash. "The look I wanted is a little bit of black and white, and eclectic, mixed together," says Mr Cheong.
His living room is dotted with designer classics such as an Arco lamp, a Yoda easy chair from Filipino designer Kenneth Cobonpue in bright red, two Patrick Norguet Scratch armchairs in teal, an Isamu Noguchi coffee table and a grey sofa from Poliform. "I picked the pieces for their muted colours, while the red adds contrast," he says.
The black Panton chair at the head of the dining table is the first designer piece that Mr Cheong bought 10 years ago, which sparked his furniture collecting hobby. A set of four Wishbone chairs by Hans Wegner make the dining area complete.
Carpets, in particular, overdyed ones, are his other interest. These are carpets which have been dyed over. "I like how an old carpet has been given a new lease of life," he says.
Mr Cheong is not only creative at work, but also dabbles in art at home. Finding it difficult to find an art piece that would complement the circular, leather-clad Adnet mirror in his bedroom, he decided to make his own.
Using miniature figurines commonly used for architectural models, he paints them in the same coloured clothes that he has, and mounts the figures against a circular background.
While Mr Cheong gets to show his passions around the home, he says it is the dry kitchen that is the real show piece. A wall used to separate the kitchen and dining area, but now that it has been knocked down, the ground floor is now one seamless space. "Now we get lots of light and breeze coming through from the front to the back," he says.
The open-concept dry kitchen comes equipped with three different ovens and is well-utilised by the couple. "Our kitchen is close to a commercial-grade kitchen," Mr Cheong says. His finance analyst wife does the baking, while he handles the savoury food such as roasted Peking duck.
At the centre of the dry kitchen is an island counter that is over 3m long. The family gathers here to cook, and when their friends from church come over, "everyone stands around the island to cook and eat", says Mr Cheong.
To top it off, the family has two more cooking spots - a wet kitchen and a BBQ area. Apart from the living room, the kitchen is the next place where there is most action in the home. "For us, the kitchen is the new living room," says Ms Koh. "There's always something cooking, roasting and baking."
Like true cooking connoisseurs, they have their own vertical herb garden, with pots of chilli, rosemary and thyme. The plants are watered via an automatic irrigation system. "I don't have green fingers. I plant using science," says Mr Cheong. He jokes that the curry plant is looking somewhat bare, as his mother, Soh Ah Mui, who lives with them, has been cooking curry very often.
While he enjoys cooking for friends and family, Mr Cheong is particular about where they eat. A Pig Table from Moooi marks the designated eating spot, namely the dining area. "We cook alot and like to pig out, so the Pig Table is appropriate," quips Ms Koh.
"No eating in the living room or over a carpet," says Mr Cheong. "I am very house-proud lah."