Husband and wife Kirti Hariharan and Juthika Choksi Hariharan moved to Singapore from Hong Kong with their son, daughter and a helper in 2011.
The family had been living in a rented condominium apartment in the East Coast area for nine years when a unit in the same building, which is owned by the OCBC Bank, was put up for sale in 2020. They immediately made an offer.
“We always knew we wanted a four-bedroom unit because our kids are growing up, and we have our relatives visiting all the time,” shares Juthika. “Plus, each bedroom has its own bathroom,” adds Kirti.
At A Glance
Who lives here: A couple in their 40s, two children, a helper and their dog
Home: A four-bedroom condominium apartment in East Coast
Size: 2,412 sq ft
ID: Parenthesis Studio
The unit was officially theirs in November 2020, and they moved into the new home in April 2021 after a $195,000 renovation held through the height of the pandemic.
“It was a pretty efficient process, considering all the restrictions and delays,” says Kirti. The couple attributed this to the enjoyable and collaborative working relationship with interior design firm Parenthesis Studio, which they found by shortlisting a few firms published in Home & Decor’s Top of the Class issue.
A few specifics on the design brief include a place for an altar and a place for Kirti’s wine collection. There were also existing artworks and furniture to consider.
Both lawyers by training, Kirti and Juthika are art aficionados. “It’s collected, not curated. “It’s purely for personal pleasure, not for investments,” says Kirti of their art collection.
That said, each item in the house has a story and is thus precious to the family. Other than these, the couple gave the Parenthesis team, comprising design principal Sujono Lim and designer Xinfang Koh, a free creative reign.
Stepping inside the home feels like coming inside a luxury hotel suite – there is an art-filled foyer, a wide corridor, liberal use of marble surfaces, and everything is so neat and clean-lined.
These are also part of the brief, which requested an understated luxury and light-coloured material palette. “People have come to associate luxury with dark materials, but we wanted light colours and plenty of light,” says Kirti.
The storage at the foyer features a handsome display. The tanjore painting was a gift from Kirti’s parents.
Sujono made a major architectural alteration to the corridor, taking 30cm off of it for a storage wall.
The storage and the respective doors to the bathroom and the son’s bedroom along this corridor are made flush to create a seamless look.
The son’s bedroom door originally opened to the living room; its shift to the corridor created a space for a feature wall that opens up to reveal a blank wall reserved for the short-throw projector that the family has instead of a TV set.
Sujono was strategic with the material allocations. The original floorings were retained to keep the budget healthy, and surfaces with high-impact visuals were paired with plain ones to make them pop.
Offcuts from the large-format marble-look Florim tiles for the sliding feature wall were used for the interior of the bar concealed behind a double door embedded with a striking diptych artwork Kirti won at an auction in Mumbai.
The couple engaged a vastu (traditional Indian architectural practice) consultant to determine the location of the altar and the stove in the kitchen.
The altar now occupies former storage near the bedroom, with the home’s IT hub occupying its lower shelves.
Meanwhile, the kitchen was rearranged to accommodate the shifted gas stove, a new electric stove and a new bar counter.
The furniture collection is a mix of old and new. The dining chairs are custom-made by a local designer in Bedok; the low-back design makes the room feel airier.
The dining room has low-back chairs to open up the view.
The rose gold glass door slides open to reveal Kirti’s wine fridge, which fits 150 bottles, a fraction of his extensive collection housed elsewhere.
The 90s high-back woven antique chairs in the living room are reserved for elderly houseguests who might find it challenging to get up from the low-slung plush sofas preferred by the younger generation.
The solid wood Chinese medicine cabinet and sideboard were from the old house in Hong Kong.
Each bathroom features the same white tiles but with a different stone accent. The spacious master bathroom features white tiles with brown marble accent.
The son’s bathroom has two entrances, from his room and from the corridor.
Each family member was involved in designing their own room to foster a sense of belonging. Each bedroom also has a corner workspace, with Juthika occupying the master and Kirti taking the guest bedroom. The guest bedroom has an antique desk from Hong Kong that serves as Kirti’s work desk at home.
Juthika’s workstation occupies a corner of the master bedroom. The antique rocking chair belonged to her great grandmother.
The artwork above the bed was salvaged from the daughter’s classroom when she was in kindergarten. It was made by her and her 19 classmates.
Everyone has a space to retreat and a space to come together as a family.
The window ledge can be propped up to create a bar counter with a spectacular view, or shelves for Juthika’s edible plants, depending on time of the day.
And what’s more, the design of the home also makes it easy for the family to tidy up.
“The house needs to look clean and presentable as if guests would come in any time,” says Kirti. “Because wouldn’t you want to come home to a neat and tidy home, too?”
Art Direction: Nonie Chen
Photography: Veronica Tay & Lawrence Teo