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Shanghai’s alleyway houses influenced the design of this home in Punggol

This shikumen-inspired home, interpreted through a palette of greys and blacks, reminds the family of their time together in China.

Home Type: 4-bedroom executive condominium

Floor Area: 1,281 sqft

Text by Jasmine Goh

Having lived in Hong Kong and then Shanghai for a number of years, interior designer Amilia Gani and her family have fond memories of their time there. Their travels so inspired Amilia that many details in the overall design are connected to the sights and sounds that they experienced. Over the years living in East Asia, the couple also collected a number of antiques.

One of them in particular is a gateleg table that currently resides on the porch outside, overlooking a water fountain and a spa pool. Another antique piece, a pair of red Chinese cabinets, actually formed the starting point of her foray into fretwork — the art of carving or cutting interlaced decorative patterns into a solid material. Ten years on, the founder and principal designer of Facelift Design & Interiors holds fretwork design close to her heart and fretwork can be found in many of the homes she has designed.


It is no surprise then that fretwork is part of Amilia’s home design. Inspired by cherry blossoms, she designed the fretwork pattern in her home to be reminiscent of their intricate beauty. The fretwork can be seen on the sliding doors that lead to the kitchen and on the TV console in the living room.

In the dining area, Amilia applied a palette of blacks and greys, evoking a sense of timelessness. She reveals that the monochromatic tones remind her of old Shanghainese architecture, specifically the black bricks and grey streets of the Shikumen. Literally translated as Stone Warehouse Gate, Shikumen is a traditional Shanghainese architectural style combining Western and Chinese elements.


The antique mirrors on the wall in the dining room were chosen for their soft dream-like quality. The large panels not only add a rustic feel, but also help to reflect light and open up the space.

Lining the walkway into the bedrooms are a couple of wall lamps that Amilia found at secondhand furniture shop Hock Siong & Co. These lamps add texture, visual interest and certainly a pop of illumination in a typically uninspiring corridor that has now been brought to life.


In the two bedrooms which Amilia’s three daughters share, the look is decidedly more contemporary. The bedroom belonging to their eldest child is fitted out with a shelving system that was purchased from Goods of Desire when the family was living in Hong Kong. For the past 16 years, this shelving unit has followed the family as they moved from Hong Kong to Shanghai and then to Singapore.


The other bedroom is shared by the other two sisters, aged 17 and 13. Due to space constraints, a bunk bed was needed to provide each girl with her own sleeping area. Amilia chose a Spaceman bunk bed that could be easily folded up, freeing up floor space so that her girls may have a bigger area to move about in the room. The colourful design of the front panel was a DIY project by Amilia and her daughters which involved plenty of patience and washi tape.

The input of classical Shanghainese flavour is unique for a local Singaporean home. This artful mix of styles is a reflection of the nation’s melting pot of cultures and of a generation of people who are cosmopolitan in their outlook.

This home was first featured on Lookbox Living issue #50. See more of Facelift Design & Interiors’ work here.







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