It has been years since I’ve lived in an apartment, and it’s a first for family life. We’ve always been incredibly lucky to be able to live in beautiful houses in the UK from a town house alongside a yacht marina, to a typically English cottage style house on the edge of farmland, to an airy Victorian red brick overlooking parkland. Space has never been a premium, which is perhaps largely due to us being outside of major cities, and so I was wary about the compromises we would need to make when moving to an apartment in Singapore. Additionally, I have never really needed to think too carefully about how we use the space available to make our house a home. Indeed every home we’ve lived in has come with it’s own identity and character which for the most part would dictate the interior decor and styling, which has been both a blessing and a curse. However moving to our apartment, an apartment identical to the other 200 in the condo development, meant I really needed to think about how to maximise on the little amount of space available to us and also consider what I wanted our home to represent rather than rely on the character of the building or surroundings. With very white walls, minimalist lighting and marble floors I had an almost blank canvas to work with, and yet within the 1200 sq. feet I had to create a functional family home that still felt open and welcoming.
As a family with two young children I knew I wanted to create a living area that would provide us with somewhere to relax together and with friends. We don’t have a living room in the way I’m used to in the UK, we have an open area which serves as a living room, dining area and family space all in one, and yet within that I still wanted to have an area akin to a living room. That was my first restricting factor- creating zone’s within an open living space. Secondly, as we had gone to the effort of shipping most of our furniture and belongings from the UK I was adamant that we would use them. And thirdly, I needed to adapt our living style from the UK to the climate of Singapore. I wanted our home to feel like ours, to have elements of our life in the UK, as well as being appropriate for our life in Singapore.
The biggest change for me was to have a complete declutter- no more photo frames and candles on every surface, and with such a small amount of space to work with every piece of furniture had to be functional if not multi-functional. I’ve swapped the baskets of heavy knit blankets we had in the UK for light throws, halved the number of scatter cushions (that was a toughy!) and incorporated storage into the coffee table and TV console by adding baskets (perfect for hiding clutter) whilst only displaying things that are either useful (so mainly books) or a talking point (like one of my husbands rugby awards). I’ve also avoided having too much of a “theme” in the living space by contrasting furniture styles (for example a modern IKEA sideboard with the TV on as well as a heavy old pine coffee table), and mixing up colours and patterns to keep everything looking more fun and easy going- a definite representation of us as a family. Lastly, to give the living space a warm and inviting feel to contrast the stark white walls and cold marble floors I’ve added a large dark rug and large table lamps with low wattage bulbs. You can’t beat gentle lighting in the evenings (and it does get dark here in the early evening giving an almost autumnal feel) and the feeling of a soft rug between your toes to make you want to settle down into the sofa with a glass of wine.
Shop my style:
Left – Create an easy going, modern vibe by contrasting textures, colours and patterns. Stick to a few colours in varying shades but don’t get hung up on where they feature. In a home with little ones it’s also worth checking soft furnishings such as throws and cushion covers are easily washable, you don’t want sticky hand prints ruining your grown up space once they’ve gone to bed!
Rug from the Trellis Collection at irugs.co.uk
Sofa from IKEA
Blue cushion from NEXT Retail
Cream cushion from TK Maxx (this particular style is no longer stocked)
Throw from Dunelm
Right – Add elegance with soft lighting when the sun goes down. Beautiful lamps also create a feature in themsleves, the lighting is an added bonus! Classic styles work best and will look in keeping in any room if you want to change things around at a later date.
Lamp from B&Q (this particular style is no longer stocked)
Left – Carefully consider the functionality of each piece of furniture, for example we opted to use a sideboard as both a TV console and storage/display cabinet. The open back to this piece also prevents the darker colour appearing too dominant in a small space, instead it’s in-keeping with the clutter free and modern look.
Cabinet from the Hemnes Collection at IKEA
Below – Add interest by mixing up old and new furniture. This coffee table was bought second hand and has, over the years, become a lovely warm honey colour and the paint has worn. The natural wood surface adds another element to the living space, incorporating character and age into an otherwise modern space. Most importantly, the baskets provide additional storage to an otherwise fairly storage-free living area. They’re great for storing clutter- magazines, TV remotes etc.
Find similar furniture on ebay or gumtree
White baskets from The Range (with liner removed for a more rustic look)