Hubert Burda Media

Colour Me Happy

Andy Warhol’s Endangered Species series inspires a high-style family abode.

You’re still in the elevator, but you know you’ve arrived at the right floor — the vividly-hued Siberian tiger, orang-utan, black rhinoceros, bald eagle and silverspot hanging in the private lobby (all lithographs from Andy Warhol’s Endangered Species series) leaves little doubt of it. “We brought the artwork from our home in the US,” says the female owner of the house, who, along with her husband and two daughters, are Wisconsin transplants based out of Singapore.
In the entrance vestibule, more Warhols hang. We’re told the blues, orange, purple, greens and yellows in the art provided the starting point for the design of the light-filled, District 10 apartment. Designer Gracinha Viterbo of Viterbo Interior Design believes in drawing inspiration from items her clients are attached to. “It makes them relate even more to their home,” she says.
Lisbon-based Viterbo, who is currently juggling work across Europe, Asia and a massive 61-hotel commission in Africa, regards herself as more than just an interior designer. “I see what I do as an artist portraying life,” she tells us. “Each project tells a story and is built upon a story: My client’s.” Here, that narrative begins with the Warhols and its leitmotif is the colours that weave its way through the house, manifesting itself as patterns on carpets, vases and throw pillows.
The apartment is the third the family has lived in during their seven years in Singapore, all of which have been in the same condominium complex. “We like the location, people and facilities, but the apartment itself wasn’t really homely and lacked some of the things we wanted,” the husband says. So in addition to stipulating a look that is “fresh and chic” and peppered with colour (the wife used to have a clothing label, hence the propensity towards the creative), their brief to Viterbo prioritised function.
The living room, for instance, had to double up for parties, as well as casual family time. The kitchen had to boast a spot inviting enough for the whole family to gather. The designer furniture had to be statement-making yet proportioned for their taller build. And hidden behind all the picture-perfect bells and whistles, enough storage space to put away sporting gear and a lifetime of personal belongings.
“The design was intended to be timeless. I wanted the family to feel as if they had been living in the home forever, but balancing that with the feeling of beginning a new chapter of their lives in Singapore,” the designer, who is herself moving here this July to see to the growth of the Asia office, explains.
Despite the occasional hint of glamour (exuded, for example, by the eglomisé French mirror in the dining area and the luxe leather floors of the master suite), and a cheeky resistance to the mundane (as evident by the kitchen’s starburst mosaic floor by Ann Sacks), the 2,886sq ft abode is largely a casual environ that quickly makes even a first-time visitor feel at home.
The living room, with its wall of white-washed, custom-built library shelving, modular sofa, vintage-style armchairs and vibrant soft furnishings for a pop of colour, is, despite its generous proportion, in reality an intimate space, while the adjacent formal dining area radiates sophistication with its cascading chandelier, studded dining chairs, modern chesterfield seating, pair of Greek screens and hand-sewn Dedar curtains.
Warhol’s colour palette, accented by splashes of pink, follows through into the kids’ bedrooms, which are fun and dynamic, yet practical in terms of layout and storage. The master suite — which boasts a sumptuous walk-in wardrobe converted from an extra bedroom — is an inviting retreat. Lush draperies, quilted bedding, and an array of upholstered seating, all in elegant shades of cream, combine with dark leather flooring to add richness to its otherwise understated appeal.
Explaining her design choices, Viterbo says: “I love incarnating different styles for different lives, kind of like an actress playing completely different roles. Like Meryl Streep.”
In fact, her design scheme is pulled off with such unaffected ease that unless told, one would never guess that the dictates of fengshui had ever been factored in — a credit to Viterbo’s skill at crafting holistic spaces, regardless of the limitations. Bedroom allocations, the direction in which beds and study desks face, even the exact angle of the living room entrance, were arranged according to its principles, resulting in not just a geomancy-blessed abode, but eye-catching designs such as the curved library shelving in the living area.
“People always comment about how warm the place is. And I think that because it feels so much like home to us, other people pick up on the warmth too. When they see our place, they see our personalities reflected in it,” concludes the wife.