The latest interior makeover of Design Intervention principal Nikki Hunt’s Singapore home conveys a playfully maximalist scheme adapted for life in the tropics
“Architectural trends may come and go, but I want my home to be a protective constant that I can return to,” says Nikki Hunt, principal of Design Intervention. That mantra holds true for her home; its architecture was inspired by colonial black-and-white bungalows, in terms of their casual majesty and their response to the tropical climate, as well as their sense of permanence.
When it comes to the interior, however, change is constant. As a designer, Hunt often finds herself “tinkering” with the Hunt residence as a testbed for furniture prototypes, upholstery and curtain fabrics. These items sometimes get brought in temporarily into their home, so that she can use them and better understand how to improve them.
Planned renovations have also been carried out over the years in response to the changing needs of her family. When the couple first built the home, their son and daughter were still young. Seven years on, the teenagers needed more privacy, so Hunt did the first major reconfiguration. Another seven years later, with both children pursuing their education overseas, Hunt and her husband found themselves in an expansive home that they were under-utilising.
“The aim of this latest renovation is to make better use of the various rooms, but keeping certain areas like the entrance foyer, the children’s rooms and the study room largely intact so that they can maintain a sense of familiarity when they are back for the holidays,” she shares.
Her husband is an ardent art collector, so there are plenty of art pieces around the home. These works of art also provide colour inspiration for Hunt. “It is almost as if the colours are spilling out of the paintings themselves,” she says. This approach applies to the living room, which was also inspired by the whimsical spirit of the Mary Poppins film. “I wanted the art to become part of the room; so the colour choices began with the painting,” quips Hunt.
The redesign began with the swimming pool. Now that her son no longer plays ball sports on the lawn, Hunt decided to put in a saltwater pool so that her husband, who is an avid swimmer, can swim at home instead of at the club. With the pool in place, Hunt realised that she needed a reading space. The existing outdoor terrace was ideal as it had a good view of the pool, but it was simply too hot. By enclosing the terrace and installing an air-conditioner, it becomes a comfortable space where the couple can take in spectacular sunset views or spend the morning in the cosy breakfast nook at one end of the terrace.
The reception room behind the terrace also boasts a pool view and this is where the couple entertain. It is designed to be sufficiently formal for hosting business clients, yet intimate and friendly enough for a tête-à-tête with friends. The rectilinear sofas are juxtaposed against the organically shaped coffee table, and solid colours contrast with fabrics depicting scenes of verdant jungles in a riot of colours. “I like to include elements that do not quite match, are slightly imperfect or humorous to put my guests at ease,” she shares.
On the other side of the reception room is a verandah that extends right up to the forest. Subdivided into three zones—bar, informal dining and sitting area—it feels like a part of the greenery despite the glass enclosure. Hues from nature are applied onto the furniture, rug and wallpaper. Hung against one of the verandah windows is a painting of a tree by British painter Francis Hamel that seems to glow from within, thanks to clever lighting. “The bar is very much my husband’s part of the house, where he has drinks with friends every Friday night,” says Hunt.
Vibrant patterns feature prominently in many of Hunt’s works, but these were used as accents before while keeping the backdrop relatively plain to accommodate her children’s paraphernalia of books, cricket bats and riding helmets.
“With the kids and their stuff gone, I can explore a more flamboyant design style that would flood the home with vitality and a sense of fun,” she reveals. “Successful maximalist style is a meticulous balancing act,” quips Hunt. “These rooms are bright, bold and mismatched yet each element is carefully curated to achieve a style that inspires and revitalises rather than overpowers."
The mix of colours that seems random, at first glance, is in fact meticulously considered to create a cohesive whole while creating an informal and light-hearted vibe. “As you move from one area to another, the mood changes. Colour links the spaces to create a cohesive and seamless transition from one zone to the next,” says Hunt.
While each room may have its own distinct decor, it all comes together harmoniously under one roof. “We have filled the house with a bold and vibrant palette to bring a fun, carefree and revitalising vibe,” explains Hunt. The green drapes in the reception room have the effect of bringing the greenery from the garden into the interior. The blue band at the top of the drapes takes its cue from the swimming pool.
A room that epitomises this is the TV room; it is meant as a space where you can “put your feet up” or “drop a few crumbs”. The Pierre Frey wallpaper selected for the room features random brushstrokes, in a smorgasbord of colours. “The mix of patterns and colours is energising, just what I need at the end of a long day,” she says. “It is the first room that I enter when I come home and it puts a smile on my face every time.”
With the relocation of the gym to what was previously her daughter’s play area, it frees up space within the master bedroom on the second storey for Hunt to carve out a casual workspace for herself. Unlike the rest of the home that sports a bolder palette, the master suite is clad in pastels, which imbue the room with a sense of calm. Paired with flowing linens, unstructured forms and hand-painted patterns, the casual ambience is the perfect setting for relaxation. “It is a cheerful space to wake up to each day, but there is also a serenity, like a soothing cocoon that restores, replenishes and relaxes.”
The latest revamp is a testimony to Hunt’s flair for the maximalist look, conveyed through playful juxtapositions of colour and pattern. “The purpose of a home is to make the homeowner feel good. Understanding what makes each homeowner happy forms the basis of good design,” she emphasises.
Jasper Yu and Jo Ann Gamelo-Bernabe
Tan Ming Yuan