Home Tour: A Singapore Shophouse With Retro Influences
Having lived in Singapore for seven years now, former gallerist Susanne Weber had long been enchanted by the beauty of shophouses. So when she and her husband spotted this centrally located historical property, they called the agent the moment they saw the “to rent” sign on the lawn.
“It has always been a dream of ours to live in a shophouse,” says Weber, who recalls “falling in love” with the unit during the couple’s first and only viewing of the house.
As it was a rental unit and a conserved building, the expatriate couple could only make minimal alterations to the property. But with clever styling and thoughtful curation of art and furniture sourced locally and from around the world, they made it work; and the result shows in the space they now call home.
It was important to the couple to celebrate the tropical context and Asian heritage of their home, although Weber’s husband also left most of the decorating decisions up to her. House plants add a lush layer to the entrance and afford a sense of privacy; the area is also furnished with custom outdoor sofas and tables dressed in a striped fabric.
The entryway leads to a spacious foyer with wooden beams and ornate cornices, which is adjacent to an airwell and inner courtyard that bring abundant natural light into the abode; here, the sound of gentle splashes from the koi pond contributes to the tranquil mood in the home.
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Connected by folding doors to the foyer and dining room, the lofty height of the airwell blurs the boundaries between the indoors and outdoors. A playful mix of Asian and European influences comes together in the foyer, where three black-and-white works by Indonesian photographer and artist Agan Harahap catch the eye; these are paired with Italian sofas from Bonacina Pierantonio and table lamps from British brands Habitat and Established & Sons.
The dining area takes on a more modern look, with a set of wooden Habitat chairs reupholstered by Bode Fabrics in a textile with a lively geometric pattern that alludes to the teak wood gridwork of the circular window by the staircase.
“It reminds me of traditional Chinese patterns, but also of the art deco style that was used in architecture and ornaments in Vienna at the turn of the century,” adds Weber, who considers this window among the standout interior architectural elements in the home.
Weber’s passion for design is as evident in her home. She hand-picked all the furnishings for the abode, along with several pieces that were custom-made. Her favourite pieces include the Lindsey Adelman Knotty Bubbles pendant lights that were converted into wall sconces for the attic living area and bedroom.
The guest rooms are located on the second and third floors, and the couple have the attic all to themselves. The top storey of the shophouse features lofty zones, which include a pair of lounge areas, as well as separate mezzanine spaces for a bedroom and home office. Featuring exposed timber beams and a double-volume ceiling height, these capacious living zones enjoy plenty of natural light.
Other much-loved spaces include the double-volume lounge area in the attic, which is furnished with pieces in earthy tones to match the wooden flooring and timber beams.
“I have a weakness for high ceilings, which might have started during my days in Berlin where my workplace was in a beautiful David Chipperfield-designed building with a double-volume ceiling,” says Weber. “I really like the airy feeling of such spacious rooms that gives me a sense of freedom and calm. This is one of my favourite characteristics of the house.”
The spaces upstairs also present a different look in terms of their decor style. Weber professes to love combining details inspired by Japanese minimalism with mid-century modern pieces, along with eclectic collections inspired by the Memphis art and design movement in the eighties. Such quirky Memphis-inspired touches can be seen in colourful accent pieces like the Bold chair from Moustache Paris in the lounge; it appears to be both art and furniture with its sculptural form.
She also cites the interiors of The Apartment Residence in Copenhagen, a boutique hotel in Denmark, as another source of design inspiration. “It has a very unique look that they themselves describe as a ‘dialogue of 20th-century furniture, contemporary art, and design’. This was also the motto I had in mind when creating our home.”
Weber’s gallerist background shines through in the art curation, which includes an installation by Singaporean artist Dawn Ng in the master bedroom. Other notable works in the home range from playful pieces by New York-based artists Chloe Wise and Stephen Somple to the dreamy abstract works of German painter Peter Böhnisch and American artist Donna Huanca.
“I have a huge passion for contemporary art and try to visit as many museums, gallery shows, and art fairs as possible,” says Weber, who used to work for the CFA Berlin contemporary art gallery in Germany. “You can never learn enough, and I think it is important to walk through life with an open heart and mind.”
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As testament to her dedication to creating a personalised interior, Weber had vintage finds such as the table lamps from Hock Siong redone with new lampshades. She also framed some of her favourite textiles from American designer Kelly Wearstler’s eponymous home furnishings brand; these were selected to serve as abstract works to pair with the earthy hues of the Ligne Roset Togo sofas by Michel Ducaroy from Grafunkt and the wooden flooring in the attic lounge.
Even after months of decorating, Weber already has her eye on various other pieces she is planning to acquire next, once she finds the perfect spot to place them; these include chairs from Australian label En Gold. “I am actually a bit sad that the interior of the house is finished because I enjoyed the process so much,” she reveals. “I have many new ideas and cannot wait to execute them either in this house or in my next project!”
This story appears in the December issue of Tatler Homes Singapore, available soon on newsstands and at Magzter.
- Art DirectionCharlene Lee
- PhotographyJasper Yu