Styling a cookie-cutter BTO flat in a way that’s creative and entirely your own can be difficult, but these young homeowners certainly did it right. If you love the Mediterranean style as much as they do, read on to find out how Fazlie and Corinne made it work in just 95 square metres—and how you can, too!
The Mediterranean style is not very common in Singapore. What drew you to it?
It wasn’t a conscious decision but everything fell into place as we were sourcing for the design elements that would go into our home, such as the tiles and furniture. The spark was the Spanish tiles we came across that looked very much like the ancient ones we had seen at The Baths of Caracalla in Rome, and that we ultimately used in the en-suite bathroom. We are also drawn to the style and atmosphere of Moroccan riads. Ultimately, we gravitated towards a design that feels natural and relaxed to us.
Did you consider designing the home by yourselves? We understand you ultimately went with an interior designer?
We briefly considered working with just a contractor on the renovation, but quickly decided to engage an interior design firm for the additional design and technical expertise they offer, plus the coordination they would provide.
Teck Hou from The Local Inn.terior is a designer we felt comfortable trading ideas with from the start. He offered fresh, helpful perspectives that we would not have thought of otherwise. He is also proactive when it comes to dealing with the minutiae of the renovation process, so we trusted him completely and did not need to stress over the details.
Did you two ever clash while designing the space? How did you settle those differences?
Fazlie adopts a minimalist approach to design and decoration, while I’m usually a maximalist. Creating a vision board together was helpful in getting us to articulate what drew us to specific spaces and learn more about each other’s preferences. Some compromise was definitely involved but we’re glad the end result reflects both of us!
Where did you source inspiration for your renovation? Any favourite IG accounts?
We drew inspiration from our memorable trip to Italy and, subconsciously, from the landscapes in the films we caught just before we embarked on our renovation, such as Call Me by Your Name and At Eternity’s Gate, about the painter Vincent van Gogh. For more inspiration (and an instant vacation), we recommend checking out Riad Jardin Secret (@riadjardinsecret) in Marrakech, Morocco and Korakia Pensione (@korakia) in Palm Springs, California.
What would you say are some must-have design elements for the Mediterranean look?
I’d say that other than the colour palette and textures, natural materials like warm woods, ceramic and stone go a long way in evoking the Mediterranean. Archways, like the one we created from the rectangular beam in our living room, are an understated yet distinctive design feature, too. Make sure to use the look as a reference, rather than a template, and mix it with other elements you like or already have on hand. It should be your personal style that ultimately comes across!
The colour palette in your home is very warm and inviting. How did you choose it?
We’ve always loved the colours and textures of Southern Europe and Morocco, so that’s how we ended up with earthy, dusty shades like terracotta, deep greens and bleached whites. Textures and patterns such as linen and stripes naturally complement this palette.
How did you go about shopping for furniture and decor? Did you have particular shops in mind or did you browse here and there?
Most of the time, we already had specific furniture pieces in mind and it was a matter of finding the shops that stock them. This was the case with our leather sofa from Grey and Sanders, tulip dining table from Comfort Furniture and Bamileke coffee table from Originals. These were integral to the overall look we were after and really narrowed down the furniture search for us.
What was the hardest part of achieving the Mediterranean design in your flat?
It is always fun to come up with a moodboard and be carried away by all the options and possibilities, but trying to stick to a budget while staying true to our vision was the hardest part. If we were to spend more on an area, we tried our best to cut back on another area without compromising form and function.
Are there any design features you would have loved to implement but that just didn’t work in a BTO flat?
I would have loved an antique carved front door but that was out of the question with the fire-rated entrance door required under the Fire Code.
What’s one thing you wish you’d known before embarking on your renovation?
We’d have done an overlay of the original kitchen and service yard floor tiles if we had known they were so porous and prone to staining.
You take great care to be sustainable at home. How did this affect the reno?
We make it a point to make considered and timeless choices when it comes to our purchases. Hence, our home was not completely furnished when we moved in as we had to space out some of the bigger-ticket items and also because we were waiting to find the ‘perfect’ pieces instead of settling for something we might tire of or regret in the short term.
Recycling is also something we practise. I remember going to the flat during the renovation to sort the waste and make sure all the cardboard boxes were properly flattened and disposed of. We then lugged them to a recycling bin in the adjacent neighbourhood because the recycling facilities in ours were not available yet.
Can you share your favourite spot in the house? What do you love about it?
We wanted a comfortable and cosy dining area, so the breakfast nook is our favourite. It was carved out by building a banquette that can seat up to eight, which serves as an excellent spot to dine, work and entertain.
Do you have any favourite furnishings or decor pieces that mean a lot to you?
The earthenware pot I saved from my late grandparents’ house is special to me as much for its rustic charm as for its evocation of simple domesticity. The dining chairs we got second-hand from Hock Siong are meaningful to us for the sheer serendipity of their appearance at a point when we were convinced we would not be able to find affordable ones we actually liked. The mad dash Fazlie had to make to secure them just minutes after we saw them on our Instagram feed was probably also quite memorable for him.
Are there any aspects of the design that you weren’t a fan of initially but eventually came around to?
Teck Hou convinced us of the importance of task lights in the kitchen, even though we told him then that cove lighting reminded us too much of ‘zhng’ cars and KTV lounges. Now we are grateful for those gentle strips of illumination in the early morning and when sneaking in a supper snack without alerting everyone else.
It’s been over a year now since the renovation. Have you changed up any areas of the house since?
Our spare room has seen the biggest change. We made a mistake when we were buying an IKEA study table for Fazlie’s daughter before the pandemic, getting the dining table version of it instead. The mistake turned out to be a blessing in disguise; shortly after, we were told that we had to work from home and this bigger table allowed us to work together in the spare room. This room is also where Fazlie keeps his bicycle and all the gear he’s accumulated.
Looking back now, is there anything you would have done differently?
We would have spent more doing custom cabinetry in the other bedroom because the quality is truly much better than the average store-bought wardrobe.