Just because renters aren’t allowed to rip up floors and hack down walls doesn’t mean they can’t get creative with their interior design. British-Chinese model Aimee Cheng-Bradshaw is one savvy tenant who transformed an empty 2-bedroom condo in Central Singapore into a chic, mid-century modern apartment without having to go through a months-long renovation.
Aimee – who you might recognise from Season 3 of Asia’s Next Top Model – shares the 840sqft rental apartment with her boyfriend of 6 years, Chi. The two gave Uchify a tour of their comfy, cosy abode and shared some sage advice on cohabitation.
Moving in with her long-term boyfriend for the first time
Much of Aimee’s life was spent living with her family. First in Woodlands, then Yio Chu Kang, and finally in Orchard. Aside from her 3 years abroad in the UK for university and the occasional modelling stint overseas, the 27-year-old was craving a slice of independence, and she felt that it was about time she and Chi were ready for the next step: moving in together.
“I felt that I had gotten to a point in my life where I was ready for a new chapter of independence and responsibility,” Aimee shared. Her sister Ella wanting to move back into the family home was also the perfect motivating factor for Aimee to start looking for listings online.
One key criterion was that their place had to be centrally located. After all, Aimee hails from Orchard. And after experiencing the convenience of Central Singapore and how everything from shopping to her casting calls was located within arm’s reach, that luxury was hard to pass up.
However, instead of buying a resale flat or balloting for a BTO, the couple decided to rent a place instead as Chi had accepted an overseas job posting, and it wouldn’t make sense to buy a home when they can’t fully settle down at the moment.
Over 3 weeks, Aimee and Chi saw over 12 listings. One place they looked at – and were ready to make an offer for – got snapped up just 2 hours after their viewing, which spurred them on to put in swifter offers. After touring their current apartment, they negotiated for the condo to come bare bones so they could start their new home from a clean slate.
Furnishing the empty apartment with pieces from Castlery & FortyTwo
With no existing pieces of furniture that come with the house – save for the refrigerator – Aimee and Chi had carte blanche to furnish their home however they liked.
The couple fell in love with the Mid-Century Modern aesthetic after binge-watching numerous home tour videos. In particular the warm, dark wood and leather couches. Thankfully, there are plenty of local furniture stores that are stocked full of pieces that fit this trendy interior design style like Castlery, FortyTwo, and HipVan.
Making a statement in the living room is the Isaac leather couch from Castlery ($1,799). Aimee and Chi wanted a piece to anchor the space as it’s where all their friends and family gather whenever the couple plays host. The leather fabric is also scratch-proof – a must for the home as Aimee’s sister has a boisterous corgi that is prone to climbing and scratching furniture.
Another piece that immediately caught our eye was the round Donati coffee table from FortyTwo ($783, U.P. $1,410). The softer shape of the two pieces helps balance out the straight angles that otherwise dominate the living room.
The Donati doesn’t just sit pretty in a nesting position. The higher tabletop’s surface can actually be lifted up to reveal a hidden storage space as well as double up as an improvised work-from-home desk. There’s also a drawer by the smaller piece to stow commonly-used devices like remote controls for the TV and aircon. But more on that later.
Unfortunately, the plywood surface of the coffee table was damaged in its first week, and the couple had to shell out around $500 just to replace it with a custom glass top that matched the same colours. In our opinion, it all worked out eventually as the glass top is a nice departure from all the other woody and brown textures in the room.
Opposite the living room is the dining room where the dining table – Aimee and Chi’s favourite furniture piece – commands the space. The visually-arresting herringbone pattern of the Cadencia dining table from HipVan ($1,299) immediately caught the couple’s eye.
The dining table is made of acacia wood.
With all the earthy tones, the pops of green within the home also give it some life. Case in point: the painting that Aimee and Chi did at Motion Art Space together. Apparently, they spent a good chunk of time perfecting the right shade of green.
Past the dining room and down the hallway is the bedroom where the Leland Queen Bed from HipVan ($1,379, U.P. $1,507) rests. However, as there was limited space for the bed, Aimee and Chi had to improvise regarding bedside tables as frankly, there was none for Aimee’s side of the bed.
Chi’s side of the bed features a candle warmer.
However, there was a big bay window at her disposal. While Aimee was not a big fan of the 4 bay windows that came with the house – including one in the guest bathroom – she eventually found a use for all of them. The largest one in the master bedroom became both her vanity corner as well as an unorthodox bedside table.
Cosy vibes only.
The vanity corner is a spot where everything just kind of fell into place. The Lalita dressing table from FortyTwo fits perfectly into the width of the bay window’s ledge, and Aimee zhng’ed it up with some LED lights in a DIY job.
Something that stood out to us was that Aimee and Chi had a very deliberate eye for detail. Things that they’ve gathered along the way have all found a place amidst the bigger pieces. For example, this Christmas Island Moai-inspired tissue box that Aimee found on Shopee stands tall by the TV console.
Nearby, there was a Jesomite tray that Aimee handmade at a workshop organised by Chokmah. And in the master bedroom’s ensuite, there’s a “butt vase” that Aimee brought over from her previous house. It was the little details like this that really gave their home a cosy, lived-in character despite the couple only having moved in back in June.
Maximising storage space with multi-purpose furniture
While not as tiny as a shoebox condo, Aimee and Chi’s 2-bedroom apartment only stands at 840sqft. Coupled with the fact that they can’t drastically change to space to accommodate more storage, the duo turned to multi-purpose storage solutions to help maximise the amount of space they have at their disposal.
One such piece of furniture was the 2-piece Donati nesting coffee tables that are in their living room. Nearby is also the Laurentia II Shoe Cabinet from FortyTwo ($207, U.P. $309) that keeps the entryway clutter free by doubling up as a bench and a shoe rack.
Aimee and Chi turned one of the bedrooms into an office that’s primarily used by the latter when he works from home. Despite the many storage cabinets – including the built-in wardrobe not shown – the space doesn’t feel like a hoarder’s hell. The white Hemnes chest from IKEA came from Aimee’s old house and is one of the first pieces of furniture she bought.
The couple also struck gold when it came to landlords, as they were given the green light to install small pieces of built-in furniture like this wall-mounted IKEA cabinet.
In a space where land is scarce, it makes sense to have your storage space go vertical instead. That sounds like what Singapore is doing with the many high-rise HDB buildings, doesn’t it?
Another vertical storage system is the freestanding shelf located in the main bathroom. Much to Aimee’s relief, the shelf fits snugly into a corner in the bathroom, and it’s where the couple has their towels and laundry on different levels. The creeping plant also gives some life into an otherwise sterile and basic space.
Back outside on the balcony, the outdoor furniture might look unassuming at first glance despite the cocoon swing chair ($399.90, U.P. $599). But one of the tables – the round one, specifically – has a hidden feature that had us shook when Chi showed it to us.
The tabletop can be raised to reveal a 40-can beer cooler. There is even a cap at the base of the table to let out the melted ice into a drainage, so no one has to awkwardly hold the table over a sink to empty it out. This buy that the couple scored off Carousell was perfect for Chi’s liquor-loving friends.
Aimee & Chi Living together for the first time on their own
Cohabitating as a couple is not an easy feat to navigate, what with things like chores, bills, and more to deal with together. However, Aimee and Chi have made it work since moving in together officially in July this year. Chores are split evenly, although we’re told that Chi takes out the trash as Aimee isn’t too keen on going near where the cockroaches live.
And for couples who are also in the process of moving in together, Aimee urges that both parties have to “take an advice role in the whole process, including apartment hunting, furniture finding, and decorating.”
“This is the start of a life together so the space you create should have elements from each partner,” she added. “I think you’ll find that you’ll love it more than that’s the case.”
Watch Aimee’s house tour on her YouTube channel:
Read other home features:
Photography by Huiwen Chan.
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