Home Tour: Living Large in a Tiny Great Gatsby-themed Condo

  • Aug 17, 2022

While homes in Singapore tend to embrace the light wood-accented, bright and airy feel, this couple’s 1-bedroom + 1-study condo along Sophia Road went in the opposite direction—with an inky, glitzy theme inspired by F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby.

Going Gatsby.

The American writer is homeowner Viola’s favourite novelist, and as an avid reader who loves spending time with her books at home, she wanted to take his greatest work as inspiration for her first apartment.

She bought the unit even before meeting her partner, Ray. As such, she made most of the home's initial decor decisions and base style, and it was only at the later stage that Ray gave his input.

Thankfully, disagreements were kept to a minimum, as the pair both loved the 1920s art deco aesthetic. Viola recalls: “We didn’t really disagree, save for keeping each other disciplined and restrained from buying irrelevant and mismatching homeware.”

Before she came across this apartment, Viola was seeing one generic, cookie-cutter house after another, all of which featured bland material choices and boring neutral hues. So when she chanced upon this unit with its checkered floor tiles (as seen in the kitchen and balcony) and the interesting mosaic tiles in the bathroom, she immediately saw its potential in turning it into her dream home. It also helped that the condo development, 1919, had a strong theme going for it, one that took inspiration from black-and-white colonial bungalows.

The checkered floor tiles in the kitchen.

The bathroom's mosaic feature wall.

At 635 square feet, the apartment isn’t very big, but it was sufficient for the couple and their two cats, Percy the Siberian and Fugu the Munchkin. Still, there was a need to maximise what they had to make the most of the space.

While they wouldn’t go so far as to describe themselves as homebodies, the couple does spend quite a bit of time inside the apartment, mainly because they both currently work from home. Being night owls, they start the day relatively late with a nice homemade or store-bought brunch by the kitchen counter, where two counter-height stools bought off Taobao were added to the existing carpentry.

To minimise waste, the entire kitchen was retained from the original condo design. The kitchen was in relatively good condition from the previous owners and the white glossy laminates and black granite counters were very much in line with the polished, opulent aesthetic the couple was going for.

Where the couple eats.

The kitchen's main carpentry came with the condo design.

After brunch, the couple adjourns to their respective workstations within the common area. Viola, who is a lawyer, likes to use the living room as the backdrop for her conference calls. There, behind the sofa, a geometric wallpaper with black and gold detailing pays tribute to the apartment’s Gatsby theme. Ray, who is a toy designer, uses the String System, a modular and customisable shelving system made in Sweden (available for purchase locally here), as his main workstation and tool storage. 

Located next to the living room, the flexible String System also houses a number of vintage books and their many travel memorabilia, including a flower in a bell jar, a bust of Dita Von Teese (an American vedette) and a tiara from a regency themed ball to name a few. The display here is as much a conversation starter as it is storage, and helps to offer an insight into the couple’s many interests.

The living room's feature wall is wallpapered with a design that is inspired by The Great Gatsby.

The String System, and part of Ray's workspace.

When they are both not working, Ray spends his time doodling on his sketchpad, while Viola enjoys getting lost in her novels. Weekends are spent together with a quiet cuppa in front of the TV. Their furry feline companions enjoy sprawling on the patio, which serves as an extension of the living area and is surrounded by faux indoor plants to lend an outdoorsy, garden vibe.

The patio area. As the unit's on the ground floor, there wasn't much of a view to look out towards, so they sought to create their own garden with faux plants.

One of the biggest changes they did to the original space was to convert the study, which was located next to the bedroom, into a walk-in wardrobe. There wasn’t a need for a separate home office as they preferred working in the common areas. Done up using the wardrobe system by local company OPSH, the open-concept walk-in closet is a quick and convenient way to see what clothes they have at a glance without having to dig through drawers or comb through shelves.

The open-concept walk-in wardrobe.

At the end of the day, Viola and Ray retreat into their bedroom, where a comfy bed sitting atop a tall platform storage awaits. As a ground-floor unit, they were blessed with an exceptionally tall ceiling, which they took full advantage of through this built-in structure. Besides using it as storage for holiday decor, board games and bedding, the platform bed also lends a sense of grandeur, very much in tune with the rest of the home’s larger-than-life theme.

The bed sits atop a high raised platform, taking advantage of the tall ceiling height.



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