For most couples, the thought of renovating their home is best done by commissioning an interior designer and everything would fall into place. For Heloiza Montuori and her husband Mario, it was more of a “hands-on” approach to getting into the gritty work and rolling up their sleeves to get the job done. When we mean “rolling up their sleeves” we don’t mean that the Moutouris prefer hard labour, rather, it’s just that the couple would very much like to be the interior designers of the project. However, Heloiza who has had experience in the renovation and redecorating process of her previous homes, getting down to the details was every bit exciting and exploratory. “Even though I have done renovation for my previous homes and also helping my friends in their home renovations, it’s always exploratory for me if I make it a point to learn something new,” emphasises the gregarious Brazilian lady who has made Singapore her permanent base after living many years here.
Her apartment that required the much-needed overhaul after she purchased it through the help of her agents was basically a dream with cherry and icing. “I always desired to live in Arcadia Gardens. It’s surrounded by thick, natural vegetation and there’s just so much nature all around. The apartments are spacious and its boxy rectangular and/or square rooms make it ideal to map a sensible layout for your furniture. I’m also very much drawn to older properties and the opportunity to do a complete makeover,” enthuses Heloiza. The husband who is a consultant and entrepreneur in the pharmaceutical industry, pretty much left his wife to work her magic.
The 3,860-sq-ft apartment of commodious proportions offered four bedrooms and the façade of the property was designed to resemble the “Hanging Gardens of Babylon”, surrounded by lush greenery. However, the idea for the interior was visualised to be an eclectic mix of classic and contemporary designs in furniture and lighting, complemented by Asian antiques. Heloiza’s pulse on Asian antiques is spot on as she has lived in Asia for over 20 years and acquired an impressive collection of Asian objects and curious. She was also in mind frame of an interior designer so she knew where to source for materials, fittings and fixtures. She quipped that the process of renovation is therapeutic because one gets to see the transformation of an old place back to its former glory or the potential to create something unique and fresh.
All In the Details
Asian antiques and objects add a burst of colour and portrays the homeowner’s personality.
For the fact that she was in no rush to move in, the homeowner took a whole year to get everything right. She used her contacts of contractors and other specialist work to do the necessary groundwork while ensuring deadlines were met. The previous living room had walls that didn’t favour the visual and work flow. She decided to hack walls to create a huge rectangular living cum dining space so that the eye can survey the room at the entrance way without being blocked by walls.
Today, the home is everything she had envisioned in her dreams. Before stepping into the home, one is greeted by concrete-looking tiles and a grand and large teak door. A long, Chinese antique bench with a stone Buddha adds an Asian touch to the entrance way. The expansive living room’s linear and contemporary lines create a Western formality to the space. The white walls and off-white flooring with wispy beige streaks create the perfect canvas for furniture and art works to pop out. Armchairs and sofas in white designed by Le Corbusier add a sleek, minimalist feel but the striking array of Asian antiques that steal the show. There are elm wood side tables, Chinese consoles and lacquer boxes, Tibetan rugs rife with coloured and intricate tapestry, Chinese lacquered chests in a deep red, tasteful Buddhist figurines that add a serene touch, to name a few. And the walls are energised by Heloiza’s very own art works – yes, she is inspired by nature and uses oils to illustrate lotuses, water lilies and other abstract thoughts. This multi-talented homeowner is so passionate about her work – interior design and art – that she’s consumed by it in a good way.
Usable Outdoor Space
The entrance way offers a tasteful prelude to what’s beyond the big doors.
Beyond the living room is a balcony which Heloiza has made it more habitable by including outdoor furniture. Here, she has made it cosy with plush cushions, side tables and glass cum metal coffee table. There is even a long outdoor dining table and four Eames chairs to have an early evening meal, shaded by bamboo chicks. “People tend to relegate the balcony to an unimportant part of the home. They usually add plants. I wanted to extend the living room experience by including this cosy outdoor area so friends and family can mingle after a meal.” explains the homeowner.
The dining space shares an open plan concept with the living room. The eight-seat dining table offers an arresting table setting that tantalises the eyes even before you lay eyes on the food. Heloiza drums up the style quotient by including floral arrangements, silverware, chargers with plates and a full set of cutlery. Two Flos pendant lights add a luxe touch while a stately Ming-style chair and giant art work of fruits executed in oil presides over this dining space.
The master bedroom is stately and chic with the right balance of contemporary and Asian furniture.
The master bedroom is resplendent with Oriental touches: dragon painting done in oil, Chinese antiques, consoles, side tables, bed-end tables and Tibetan rugs. Her bed sheets are in white but the mini silver cushions add lustre and drama. The master bathroom is minimalist in style as it offers a bathtub and two sinks integrated into a vanity.
When it all comes together, this is a home where you can truly witness a homeowner’s pride in executing her own style, being resourceful to hunt for the right objects for her home, knowledgeable about Asia and its antiques and the willingness to roll up her sleeves and do the necessary work. It is sheer kudos to Heloiza for the effort and passion in making a home complete, cosy and comfortable all year round.
This article was originally published in Home + Living issue 20.