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WHEN you have an interior designer who knows exactly how to translate your requirements into a dream home, you hold on tight to him. That's what banker Chan Ee Tat did to Terence Neo, design director of EightyTwo, when he got the keys to his three-bedroom apartment in River Valley a few years ago.
When they first met, Mr Neo had turned Mr Chan's former home in Bartley into the urban sanctuary he asked for. So it was a no-brainer decision to go with someone he could see eye to eye with. Mr Neo, who knows his client well, says "Ee Tat is very much a minimalist and likes a timeless look, but for this second home, he wanted something bold and adventurous.
But it doesn't mean completely breaking out of character and embracing strong colours or unconventional designs. His client wanted bold, but in a subtle and tasteful manner.
That meant "experimenting with brass elements, grey and blue hues, and moving away from safe choices such as white walls and the use of wood," says Mr Neo.
Concurs Mr Chan: "I still wanted a timeless style without being too fancy". Especially since the home is designed for him, his wife, kids and his parents.
It was a major production that involved gutting the entire 1,800 sq ft, three-bedroom apartment. "We made the living room bigger, added an open dry kitchen with a long luxurious island, and reworked all the bathrooms for a completely new look," says Mr Neo.
Cabinets and walls were left neutral, with brass accents in the cupboards, light fixtures and decorative features such as a light wood slatted profile for the island, which acts as the apartment's centrepiece.
Bespoke terrazzo lends pops of colour and character. "We had all the terrazzo in the apartment customised for this apartment," says Mr Neo. "Every bit of broken marble was personally sourced and handpicked, and the island countertop, bedhead in the master bedroom and the master bathroom walls are all cladded in this colourful terrazzo," he says.
Nailing the colour theme was just the first part. Since it's a three-generational home, Mr Chan's priority was to have enough storage for everyone, while still being spacious enough for entertaining. Also, "I'm not fond of air-conditioning, so the apartment has to be well ventilated even during the day, and there has to be plenty of natural light," he says.
Once Mr Neo was done, the apartment was exactly as commissioned - airy, with plenty of open space that's conducive for entertaining.
The island is naturally the heart of this home, where guests gravitate for a drink or two while watching Mr Chan, an avid home chef, prepare the evening's special meal. Once he's ready, everyone moves to the bespoke dining table next to the island. The dining area itself is neatly organised with a row of tall cabinets behind the island that stores kitchenware and even a hidden pantry.
After dinner, guests either linger at the table or island, or move to the living room for a post-prandial tipple.
A dramatic archway frames the living room windows, which Mr Neo designed. "This instantly becomes a strong focal point for the apartment," he says.
Once guests have left for the night and it's time to go to bed, Mr Chan and his wife retire to their bedroom, with its customised TV console with cabinets, drawers and niches to display Mr Chan's collectibles, and an adjoining little nook for reading.
Needless to say, Mr Neo has made his client one happy homeowner.
Mr Chan is so pleased with his home that he's hard put to decide which part is his favourite. "I like the island and dining area; and how the master bathroom has been reconfigured, even the helper's room which has dual access so this helps with accessibility," he says. And betraying his inner minimalist tendencies, "I like that the apartment is very functional and practical."