Buro. Homes #1: Inside local fashion designer Fannie Chua's modern walkup apartment in the East

House proud

Text: Tracy Phillips

Video: David Bay
Image: Hazirah Rahim

At some point in our lives, most of us will leave our family home and either rent or buy our own place. When that inevitable moment arrives, we're motivated to invest time and money into homeware, lighting, art and those oh-so-soft bedsheets. Safe to say, even the most clueless among us will find ways to make our space more functional, comfortable and reflective of our own personal style.

That's exactly why I'm bringing you Buro. Homes  a video series where I'll bring you inside the inspired homes of Singapore-based creatives to find out how they've put together their living spaces. Get inspired by their quirky interiors, renovation hacks, and find out where you can shop some of their unique objects.

From HDBs to walkups, condos to three-story mansions, I'll be covering a wide range of homes too,  because it's not the size that matters but the personalities that shine through.

To kick off the series, I visited fashion designer and founder of womenswear label David's Daughter, Fannie Chua and her husband, advertising creative director Loo Yong Ping, who recently turned an old walkup in the East into a modern home that mirrors their eclectic tastes and love for travel.

How did you decide on this home?
Prior to finding this place, we were actually checking out another walkup along Joo Chiat Road. It was a nice space, but it was a little out of our budget so we decided to look around on Property Guru and found this quaint walkup unit. We were quite taken by it on our first visit. It was the vibe and open space that flowed seamlessly through the house. It also helped that the previous owner had done it up tastefully, so that gave us a clearer idea of what could be tweaked to make it ours. Location-wise, it's within a quiet enclave in a private estate in the East. It's a big tick in the box as we value our privacy, and Ping likes to be near East Coast Park.

What do you think your home says about you?
Our home is an extension of our character and openness. As a couple, we both have eclectic tastes, aren't afraid of trying new looks, and can be adventurous in our choices. This house encapsulates the essence of us as a couple; a mish-mash of two dreamer types, who'll never take themselves too seriously (most times). Each room has a bit of whimsy and fun, either through things that we have collected from our travels, or little items that we've handpicked for this home to put a smile on our faces, and hopefully our guests. For an old property, there are also plenty of small imperfections and quirks that add character.

What are some of your favourite features in your home?
It would be the feature wallpaper hanging above the master bedroom, and the connecting bathroom. Ping and I love travelling, so we wanted the bedroom to have a little of that 'staycay' vibe. The wallpaper adds that touch of resort. Coupled with dark wood accents, it gives the whole room a cosier aesthetic. The large balcony doors connect the bedroom to a balcony with a clear roof, which brings a lot of light in. I've also always loved the idea of drawing a bath and sipping wine while I soak. I've only been able to do that when I travel, so when we were doing up the blueprint of this home, it was one of my top things to have.

Lastly, I love the round window connecting the study to the baby's room. We can envision our first-born peeking through that hole whenever she wants to say hello to her Dad who's hard at work in the study. It warms my heart.

Buro. Homes #1: Inside local fashion designer Fannie Chua's modern walkup apartment in the East (фото 1)

What was your main inspiration?
It's a combination of what we've seen during our travels, and our personal aesthetic preferences. We loved the laid-back feel and quiet respite of the riads in Morocco, and they inspired the decor of the balcony. The darker palettes for the study and master bedroom was inspired by a boutique hotel in Asakusa, Japan. The rest of the space is left clean and white, or a muted grey because we have a lot of trinkets to add as we go along. At the last minute, Ping suggested that we paint the doors yellow. Our contractor was a little shocked at first, but I feel it adds a nice contrast to the otherwise muted palette. It's unexpected, and it definitely puts a smile on our faces when we come home.

Buro. Homes #1: Inside local fashion designer Fannie Chua's modern walkup apartment in the East (фото 2)

Do you have any organising, building or design hacks to share?
Hiding our storage spaces and keeping them out of sight was one of our goals. From the platform storage beds to the white cupboards that blend into the wall, we tried to keep them discreet.

We also shared a very detailed Pinterest board between us that served as our moodboard when we briefed the contractors or when we went furniture-hunting. With a very clear idea of what we wanted, we planned to hire a contractor without an ID, which would definitely add up to the final bill.

We are very blessed that the contractor, SMT Project Pte Ltd,  was very professional and easy-going. The people he brought into his team carried the same work ethos too, and we would definitely recommend him to people if they are clear with what they want aesthetically. However, it also means you have got to be very hands-on with overseeing the project. We handpicked everything in the house and nothing was left to chance. We were blessed to be in a position where one of us had a more flexible work schedule and could see to the daily on-goings of the construction process. My father-in-law helped us greatly as well when it came to inspections and negotiations. He had to fill in a lot of times because of my pregnancy and Ping's busy work schedule. Overall, it was two months worth of work and coordination, but it was so worth it.

Shop the look:
Book shelves, Grey & Sanders
Side tables, dining table and lounge chair, Loft Home Furniture
Leather couch, Commune
Bedframe set and art deco mirror, Castlery
Feature ceiling wallpaper, Wall Hub
Rose-gold toilet accents, Bathroom Warehouse
Metal plate artwork, Displate
Commissioned art piece, Wood & Lead
Original 70s Mao Ze Dong Poster, Propoganda Museum