The Straits Times : Picture-perfect apartment doubles as office

The Straits Times
Life Section
24 September 2011
By huang huifen
Olive green and mustard yellow walls complement the retro-themed living room, which is accented by colourful and funky furniture pieces. Further in, a piece of the apartment's original window grille hangs from the ceiling, and with five lightbulbs dangling from it, makes for a unique light fixture. -- PHOTO: TINYDOT PHOTOGRAPHY
Blink and you might miss the appropriately named Tinydot Photography.

The wedding photography business is inside a residential apartment that has been converted into a home office.

Apart from laminated wood borders around each of the three windows, there is nothing indicating that the ground-floor unit in Chay Yan Street is actually a functioning office.

As with most of the other residential apartments in the pre-war estate, the door leading to Tinydot is tucked into a stairwell next to the apartment.

Mr Seah Yu Hsin, 40, one of three partners of Tinydot, decided to move his rented office from Sago Street to a residential apartment in Tiong Bahru last month because he wanted a more permanent office space.

The nature of his business also meant that he did not require a retail front.

Also, one of his partners, Mr Jerald Zhan, 28, a bachelor, plans to stay overnight in the office when they put in late nights.

Mr Seah lives in a condominium in West Coast with his wife and two children aged five and nine. The third partner is photographer K.C. Wong, 37.

Having grown up in the early 1970s, Mr Seah loves how Tiong Bahru brings back memories of those years.

He wanted to convert the 930 sq ft three-bedroom apartment into a space that is liveable yet exudes a quirky, old-world charm. He spent about $35,000 renovating the apartment, which cost just under $1 million.

His interior designer, Mr Victor Chua of Viz Interior Artist, did this by removing two walls of one bedroom and turning the space into the main living room.

Here, clients can relax on a three-seat earth-tone fabric sofa while they view their photographs on a television. To add a quirky look to the space, the central wall is covered with cement and layered with cultured stones to look like a brick wall.

Quirkiness continues on the ceiling. A piece of the original window grille hangs from the top with five lightbulbs draped over it, making for a unique light fixture.

Upping the fun factor are posters of works by artists such as Andy Warhol, wall decals and ornaments including two giant Hershey's chocolate-syrup bottles.
Vintage cameras and a typewriter (above) are displayed in the apartment. An iPad has been inserted into an old Macintosh computer, so that customers can view pictures on it. -- PHOTO: TINYDOT PHOTOGRAPHY
The office, which was once a bedroom, had its walls replaced with tempered glass for an open-concept effect.

The kitchen is now a pantry where meetings can be held over a cuppa. The walls and island counter are made of cement to give a raw effect reminiscent of the 1970s.
The kitchen is now a pantry (above), and it comes with a cement island counter for a raw effect. -- PHOTO: TINYDOT PHOTOGRAPHY
With so many different looks at every turn, it is no wonder that Mr Seah has difficulty deciding his favourite spot in the office. 'I love every part of the place because in each of them, I can find something that allows me to sit back, relax and take the time to reflect on things.'

hfhuang@sph.com.sg

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