Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Project N

When we bought our first apartment in KL many years ago, we had it done up as a luxe bachelor pad. We didn't do any renovations but we went crazy with the loose furniture and bought some iconic designer pieces which we had always lusted for. The place was a yuppie haven - dim lighting, heavy curtains and the only things in the living room were a very large and deep sofa, a Le Corbusier chaise lounge, a Noguchi coffee table, an Arco floor lamp and all the electronics a guy could ask for (TV, stereo system, home theatre system, game consoles, internet, etc.). There was not a single family photo in sight, no ornaments, no bookshelves.

In contrast, in Singapore, our previous homes have always been done up very simply. There were just Richard and I at home, so the emphasis was on low maintenance and high practicality. We keep rather long hours at work and by the time we get home, housework is not a priority. Things have to be fuss-free. Keeping pets also influenced our choice of furniture, we try not to buy anything that would cause us heartache if damaged by them.

Things changed when Ryan came along and our latest apartment in PJ is the opposite of our first, it's more of a family home. We collected our keys earlier this year and did some moderate renovations, keeping the place bright and spacious. Lots of photos, books, trinkets and travel souvenirs are on display. Now for our new unit in Singapore, we also want to it to have a family-feel. We want it to be bright and cheerful, with lots of areas for children to run and play. We want feet to be put up, pets to lounge about, children to make messes and adults to relax. Again, nothing too precious that would cause us a heart-attack if damaged by children or by pets.

We spent quite a lot of time dreaming about what we wanted the place to look like. Initially we were very keen on the Scandinavian style - open- plan, light-filled layouts, clean lines and natural materials. We thought of a white space, with pops of bright colour. You can check out the house visits at Dos Family for what I mean. There are more pictures at Emma's blog. Just lovely. And so child-friendly too.

We bought our dining table and chairs while we were still in our Scandinavian phase. We chose a Tulip table by Eero Saarinen with a white marble top. The matching Tulip chairs are candy-coloured. We bought lights from Kartell for the living and dining areas. I'll show you in the next post.

Since then, we have moved on from the Scandinavian look. We realised that it was all bright, pale and light in Scandinavia homes because of the long dreary winters and the lack of natural light there. They used all that white to reflect whatever light was available. In Singapore where the sun shines all year long, all the white walls and furniture would just give the place a harsh feel. Nevertheless, we still want the place to be bright so we don't want walls or furniture that is too dark. We did consider putting up wallpaper and even went through reams and reams of samples at the wallpaper store but in the end, we decided to keep the white walls but tone the effect down by getting some furniture custom-built in medium dark wood.

There is not a lot of custom-built furniture but all of the custom-built furniture that we do have, we designed ourselves with some inspiration from Italian furniture brands. There will be wall-hung bookshelves and a wall-hung TV console in the living room, a simple buffet table/sideboard in the dining area, wall-mounted storage along the passageway to the rooms and a working desk and floor to ceiling bookshelf/TV stand in the study. All this carpentry will be done by our contractor at the factory and will be installed at the unit in about two weeks' time, after the walls are re-painted and the floors touched up.

In the meantime, we are trying to sort out the smaller details. As I mentioned in a previous post, we had the covered pergolas installed on the terraces. Yesterday we put in new ceiling fans to replace the existing ones. We also bought some additional lights last week, which the contractor will pick up from the shop and install for us when she installs the furniture. The contractor will have to come again in December to install all the Kartell lights, because they are only arriving in late December (takes three months to be shipped into Singapore). Hopefully we can have them in time for Christmas.

We plan to move in November because after that, there just won't be time. Richard has promised his present company that he won't go on leave for the remainder of his time with them so we are left with weekends to pack up and shift. Weekends in December will be filled with Christmas lunches/Christmas dinners/Christmas shopping so it is not realistic for us to expect to get much done if we wait till then. After that, it will be the run-up to New Year's Day (Richard's family are planning to visit during that time). Richard starts at his new firm in January so it will be a little stressful and definitely not a good time for packing and moving. Then, Ryan has his birthday in late January, quickly followed by Chinese New Year in early February 2011 and we'd prefer to move before rather than after Chinese New Year.
So we've got just a couple of weeks left to sort out a whole list of things. We still need to buy some furniture (we have yet to find beds and living room seating) and electrical appliances (kettle, fridge, washing machine). We still have to buy curtains/blinds. There are still some decorating issues to resolve - we haven't planned our bedroom or Ryan's playroom yet. We need to sort out our stuff - what to pack, what not to pack. We need to change our mailing addresses, decide when to terminate the water/gas/electricity supply, get the internet and cable connected at the new unit and book a professional mover.

Ok, so lots and lots of things on our to-do list, which I've termed "Project N". The letter "N" is related to our new address, but I suppose it can also stand for "New Nest". Good stuff, whichever way you look at it.


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