Home Tour: A Peranakan-Inspired House With Art Deco Details
For homeowners Wendy Smith (pictured above) and Nishan Weerasinghe, designing and building their own home from scratch proved to be blissfully easy. As a senior designer for Design Intervention, Smith was lucky enough to have all of the necessary resources on hand—but it was the freedom to dictate each and every detail that made the design process such a pleasurable experience.
“My previous homes were both conservation houses and those are inevitably fraught with regulations,” she explains, seated in the living room of the couple’s three-storey abode. “But in this instance, I was able to select my favourite architectural and decorative details, and combine them to create something that feels fresh and modern.”
Sense of place
Keen to ensure that her East Coast residence was sympathetic to its surroundings, Smith looked to classic Peranakan architecture for design inspiration. The house sits on a former orchard, with the original plantation dwellings just across the street, and she wanted to honour the area’s heritage. The pale grey and white combination that she chose feels at once nostalgic and contemporary—this play on eras continues throughout the rest of the property.
Black and white marble flooring runs throughout the home, although the more typical chequerboard has been given a glamorous lift that feels distinctly Art Deco in style.
Floor-to-ceiling French windows open up the whole of the front and the back of the house to allow a breeze to waft through, but there is also a discreet air-conditioning system that takes over on humid days. True to Peranakan form, the ground floor features a double-height ceiling supported by vintage-style pillars, which in this instance have been given a sleek finish.
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While there was no doubt that an Asian home was what she wished to replicate, Smith also wanted to be able to entertain on a large scale. She instructed Design Intervention’s in-house team of architects to come up with an open-plan layout that would heighten the sense of space—but this created a design dilemma.
“I love the use of colour inside a home,” she explains. “But with an open plan, there are no natural termination points in any of the rooms.” Smith worked around the issue by painting the ceilings in her favourite shades and using rolls of botanical wallpaper that, while varied in print, all feature a white background. This allowed for a sense of continuity without her having to opt for plain white interiors.
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The master bedroom and bathroom are decked out in bold monochromatic patterns with shots of zesty accents, although it is the bespoke Fromental panoramic wallpaper that really steals the show. The delicate silhouette print has been masterfully replicated on the bathroom tiles, ensuring that the suite works as a whole. Fortuitously for the designer, it’s also a scheme that beautifully matches her impressive Jo Malone fragrance collection.
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Smith moved to Singapore from the UK in 1998 and joined Design Intervention in 2004. Her role within the award-winning firm has grown organically over the years; working with them on her own home proved to be a key milestone. “Effectively being their client gave me a new appreciation for my team,” she says. “But it was also just really enjoyable working with them.”
This sentiment is echoed by Nikki Hunt, founder and principal of Design Intervention, who clearly cherished her time working on her colleague’s home. “This was definitely a team effort,” says Hunt, recalling the numerous hours spent poring over Smith’s plans. “Working on a project for ourselves is one of the toughest challenges a designer faces. We know too much and love too many divergent ideas. Luckily, at Design Intervention, we are a tight team and can rely on each other for clear, dispassionate advice.”
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For the couple, the pièce de résistance is the kitchen. Fisher & Paykel appliances are found inside every bespoke cabinet and their enormous fridge-freezers run the length of an entire wall. A temperature-controlled wine cellar also keeps the couple’s vast collection of wines in optimal condition.
Little nods to her British roots also feature, from the Dualit toaster to the broad selection of afternoon teas. The kitchen is the very heart of their home—it’s where the couple heads to relax over the weekends or to cook up a feast for the steady stream of guests that tends to drift through their doors. As Smith puts it simply: “It’s the place that I look forward to returning to—beyond all others.”
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This story was adapted from Singapore Tatler Homes December 2017-January 2018.
Art direction and production: Khairul Ali
Photography: Jasper Yu, assisted by Tan Ming Yuan