There’s a maxim in French that translates as: ‘Luxury is a matter of money. Elegance is a question of education’. This eloquent phrase succinctly sums up the mantra of Florence Lim, the Philippines-born interior designer, art collector, boutique owner and all-round style expert. Florence’s refined home in Singapore, set in a lush location of hanging gardens and hundred-year-old heritage trees, is the very essence of elegance itself. The apartment is layered with tactile fabrics and textures, and embellished with contemporary mid-20th-century classic pieces of furniture and dramatic art.
As is often the case, Florence first discovered the apartment through a random invite. ‘A good friend, who now lives in the apartment below, suggested I take a look at the flat, and it was love at first sight,’ she says. ‘I had been looking for a few months but was only shown cramped places that were in buildings with no personality or character.’ This building, dating from the 1980s, is famous for being the first in Singapore to have vertical landscaping with wraparound terraces on every level, all of which flourish with cascading plants.
The expansive space she shares with her Italian husband, two teenage sons, and Pacha her mischievous Shar Pei, who intermittently takes to chewing expensive furnishings, acts as both a home and a gallery for her extensive art collection. Hence a largely white palette prevails, which serves to exhibit the art to the full and shows off the subtle fabric colours. ‘My mother always lived in an all-white house,’ Florence says. ‘She felt that heavy dark wooden colonial furniture looked oppressive in the heat of the Philippines. It meant I came to love white too – it’s pure, peaceful and immaculate.’
Trophy pieces in her art collection include a striking stainless steel sculpture by Sir Anish Kapoor, a Tracey Emin neon light installation, and a Damien Hirst in her son’s bedroom.
‘One of my favourite pieces – a red Yayoi Kusama artwork that hangs in the dining area – has become a dinner party talking point,’ says Florence. Equally the I Missed You glass sculpture by Korean artist Do Ho Suh invites comment and stimulating dialogue.
One of the most pleasing aspects of Florence’s home is the natural flow from indoors to the outdoor balcony area, linked by large glass doors that open up to considerably extend the living space. The clever use of natural, organic fabrics and light teak outdoor furniture further emphasises the airy, expansive feel so that the balcony appears integral to the inside. ‘There’s a real sense of the living area being connected to nature beyond the apartment,’ says Florence. ‘I adore the wide, uninterrupted views across leafy parkland to the iconic rooftop of Marina Bay Sands,’ she says. ‘The light just seems to shimmer.’
This interior with its array of artwork, personal treasures and classic designer furniture remains timeless in every sense. Florence, also owner of Edit Lifestyle, a beach clothing and homeware boutique in Singapore, is well aware that in the fashion world fads and gimmicks come and go in no time. But elegance, be it dress sense or interior design, never goes out of style – as her home so clearly illustrates.
The owner Florence Lim is an interior designer, art collector and boutique owner. She lives in this Singapore apartment with her husband, their two teenage boys, and a Shar Pei, Pacha.
The home This city apartment features five bedrooms and three bathrooms, with the main living area linking to the outside terrace via glass doors, considerably extending the living space.
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Images by: Michael Paul/Living Inside