Most homes are built for a single family to retreat to; a private enclave to get some respite at the end of the day. Some homes, like Lance and Marie’s executive apartment in Sengkang, are entertainment havens where friends and loved ones can gather in the spirit of fellowship.
Even though the couple bought the house in 2020 when visiting restrictions were just about to be introduced, their vision to make it a safe space for their comrades to gather was unwavering. So husband Lance, an interior designer by day at The Refinery Studio, took it upon himself to completely overhaul the 1,422sqft flat. “I wanted to take the lead and put my skills to the test,” he said.
The renovation included the removal of almost every wall, the original flooring, and a reconfiguration of the home’s layout. “We deviated from the typical and traditional approach to create something unique and personalised,” Lance shared. The end result was a blend of eclectic and industrial sensibilities that reflect both his and his wife’s personalities with room to accommodate their hobbies that range from mahjong to Lego.
Self-designing a home to host friends and family
Lance and Marie are avid entertainers, and their inclination for hosting friends and family under their roof has always taken precedence in their lives. “We have always been the type of people who take pleasure in creating a warm and inviting environment for our guests,” Lance said, which was partly why they bought a larger home too. “We knew that it would be perfect for hosting the kind of gatherings we love.”
To make the space feel cosy whilst remaining aesthetically raw and rugged, Lance used warm lighting throughout the house, in particular the communal areas where the couple would host guests.
The Sputnik ceiling lamp in the living room evokes the look of a spider while the exposed globes give it that industrial accent.
The lights were more task-oriented in the other rooms. For example, the mahjong room and kitchen had neutral – but still warm – lighting so that players and chefs can see with more clarity. And to save on costs, Marie handpicked all the lighting fixtures from Taobao.
There’s also a karaoke system from Taobao placed front and centre of the living room where the couple and their guests can belt out show tunes to their heart’s content without having to visit a KTV parlour. But this isn’t the only spot in the house where Lance and Marie can play host.
Building an entertainment room for mahjong sessions
Most people will just break out the mahjong table in their living or dining room when it’s time for some “dry swimming.” Marie, the mahjong aficionado in the relationship, will not settle for the bare minimum. One of the rooms was converted into a dedicated mahjong den which has quickly become her favourite spot in the house. After all, her kakis gather here up to 3 times a week for mahjong sessions that can last up to 6 hours and more.
A Lego Cai Shen Ye looks over the mahjong room.
The walls are painted in her favourite colours, blue and green, which coincide with the classic colours of mahjong tiles. An automatic mahjong table – a must-have for any self-respecting mahjong host – sits in the centre of the room, patiently waiting for Marie’s posse to begin their weekly ritual of accumulating tais. Again, the mahjong table was also bought from Taobao.
Opening up the living space for a bigger kitchen
Outside the mahjong den is another space that sees regular use: the kitchen. Lance made the decision to use a section of the living room for the open-concept kitchen to create a more welcoming and inclusive atmosphere.
Complementary decor elements and a consistent colour scheme were used throughout both the living and cooking spaces for a more seamless, cohesive look. The false ceiling also had recessed downlights to illuminate the ambience, while the kitchen island was anchored by a trio of pendant lights from Taobao.
Lance takes pride in the kitchen island which was designed to be “the perfect focal point for our urban kitchen.” The countertop is made from Dekton stone, a scratch-, stain-, fire-, and heat-resistant material that is also low maintenance.
“It’s not only beautiful, but also highly functional, providing ample space for meal preparation, cooking, and casual dining,” Lance said. But it did not come cheap, with the couple forking out around $7,000 for the island, backsplash, and countertops in the kitchen and bathrooms.
Aside from its functionality, the island has also become one of the spots where the couple’s family and friends gather to make conversation, almost like how campers would around a campfire.
Installing custom display shelves to showcase Lego collection
Lance and Marie’s home isn’t just a spot for them to wine and dine with their friends. It is also their private sanctuary that reflects their interests. One hobby that takes priority more than others is Marie’s passion for collecting Lego sets.
To ensure that her enthusiasm for brick-building is given the attention it deserves, Lance designed a dedicated display case in the living room to showcase all the individual Lego sets that Marie has assembled over the years.
“We carefully designed the shelves to accommodate the various sizes of Lego sets, and we made sure to leave some space for future expansion,” Lance said. The display has also become a fun conversation starter whenever their friends come to visit.
Designing an executive apartment with mahjong room & lego displays
Being an interior designer and designing your own home has its perks – you don’t have to explain what your exact needs and expectations are to a third party, and you’ll be able to take pride in the final product as it’s something you saw through from start to finish.
For Lance, this much was true. “I had the freedom to be more creative and experimental with the design choices, knowing that the end result would be a space that we would love and enjoy for years to come,” he said.
And now that they’ve had time to settle into the house, Lance and Marie are “truly satisfied with the outcome of our renovation project” to the point that they often find themselves preferring to cosy up at home instead of heading out into town. Maybe down the line, they might find themselves limewash painting their walls, but for now, it’s their perfect entertainment haven.
Check out other self-designed homes:
- Singaporean designs her own tiny house in New Zealand
- This homeowner styled his home with $15K worth of Taobao furniture
Photography by Huiwen Chan.
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