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Artist at Heart

A stuffy old shophouse gets a unique makeover, mixing modern furniture and colourful contemporary art for a relaxed and cosy effect.

Built in 1859, this Niven Road shophouse was probably home to coolies or migrant workers who stayed there temporarily. Despite its decrepit state, Alvin Kwan the homeowner and interior designer saw potential in the space. The property was purchased in 2010 all thanks to an advertisement in a property website. “I think I was fated to have stumbled on it and lucky to have found a gem. There are less than 50 conservation properties along Niven Road and I’m fortunate to have snagged it as it was up for sale,” explains Alvin.

Ambitious Plans
Being in the trade of interior design, Alvin’s mind was fecund with ideas and he had a vision of a space replete with industrial elements complemented by modern contemporary fixtures and designer furniture. The homeowner quips, “I had about 1,600 sq ft of space to play with, inclusive of an outdoor terrace on the second floor that overlooks the kitchen through the skylight. Being an avid art collector, he also wanted it to be like an art gallery on the second floor. The renovation took six months to complete where a great part of it was being tireless in checking details to the nth and ensuring that deadlines were met.

Read the full story in issue 19 of Home + Living. In major bookstores now.

The second floor is decked up to look like an art gallery.


Paul Smith “bunny” bought from London adds a whimsical touch to the dining table.


BD Barcelona white containers designed by Jamie Hayon.

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