Hundred Shades of White

By Atiya Kazi
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If you have ever wondered whether an all-white décor for a drawing room can appear cold or lack personality, wonder no more. In this month’s Singapore Drawing Rooms we feature the stunning home of Sarah and Asim Bashir, which encompasses a hundred shades of white to create an airy, pure and soothing living space.

Sarah and Asim, who wanted the quintessential Singapore experience with a landed property, had been looking for almost a month for a house, which fitted their budget and their space requirement.  Just off Holland Road, this house was in a sad shape when Sarah first came for a viewing.  It had not been maintained properly, plus cheap, white fitted cabinets that stuck out like eyesores all over were quite off-putting.  However, being a civil engineer by background, Sarah at once saw the possibilities underneath the depressing first impression; besides both Sarah and Asim loved the sprawling garden with the pond. The Bashir family and their two boys decided to take the plunge for this five-bedroom house.

After re-structuring, which consisted mainly of ripping off offending cabinets and partitions to create clean, open spaces, Sarah set to work on creating a harmonious white theme.  Many of us think of white as a stark colour or a neutral palette, yet white comes in many hues.

Sarah has carefully created a tone-on-tone palette, incorporating patterns, textures and materials to create depth and interest.  Dousing the drawing room walls with a shade of tan, rhine wine to be exact, set off the white tiled floor and cream curtains.  With a careful built up of warm wheats and sands on the sofas and the dark wood colors of the center and side tables Sarah has developed a color scheme, which is anything but dull or cold.

I am curious to know why Sarah has chosen this color scheme.  Her answer is very simple- she loves white and she is very fond of wearing it herself.  And that to me is the number one rule for house decorating- your home interior should be a reflection of your personality.  Your friends and family should be able to walk into your home and recognize your style in the way you’ve done it up.

The colonial style sofas and deep armchairs, upholstered in luxuriant, plushy fabrics invite long conversations. Most of her sofas were bought in Dubai, and Sarah and I reminisce over the pleasures of wandering through home stores in Dubai.  Although, each furniture piece is formal, but the deliberate mismatch and an angular, asymmetric layout makes the setting cozy and puts guests at ease.

I found two of her center tables very unusual.  One is a Chinese rice pounder (bought locally) and the other is a cart inspired table with wrought iron wheels in place of legs (Pottery Barn, Dubai).

A sly benefit of using white as a base for your color scheme is that it can act as an eraser in your interiors.  This is especially true if you have an older house or your place has any architectural mishaps, exposed ducts, etc. White tones will smoothen out these flaws and make your space appear clean and blemish free!

But perhaps the biggest advantage of having a white palette is that artifacts and paintings can be shown off to superb effect.

Sarah’s paintings are huge canvasses of deep color and beautifully framed.  The paintings have been collected from her trips to South East Asia (mainly Bali) and the family’s brief stint in Vietnam.

Her decoration pieces consist mainly of sculptures and vases in ceramics and stoneware, which unifies the earthy mood.

I must say this is the first Pakistani/Indian home I’ve visited where there are no crystal, silver, porcelain or ethnic pieces! Sarah has a fondness for chunky candles and lamps and uses them to adorn her tables, racks, and her dining table.

One of the best features of this home is the view! The large drawing room has a 360 degrees view of the tropical garden, which houses a gorgeous koi pond.  The view adds to the airy feel of the drawing room, and no doubt helps to combat the tropical Singapore heat.  The garden, lush with shrubs, trees and exotic foliage, has an untamed look about it, making it appear natural rather than manicured.  The quality of the glass used in the huge, all glass windows is so fine that the garden when viewed from inside appears to be a part of the interior! The effect is quite magical ala ‘Palace of Illusions’. The sight of the tropical shrubs and greens and koi fish in the trickling pool have a calming Zen like effect which is perfectly matched by the airy hues of the interior.

Imagine doing yoga on the wooden deck next to the pond or sipping a cup of tea on the comfy two seater as raindrops dance on the green leaves and wrinkle the surface of the pond- restful indeed.  I can also picture a dinner party with all the candles lit up and Sufi music playing on the concealed heavy bass music system.  Romantic and very alluring, indeed.  And that nicely sums up Sarah and Asim’s house- a hundred shades of white evoking purity, freshness and calm and yet inspiring romance, warmth and confidence at the same time.

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About Atiya Kazi

An MBA from LUMS, Atiya has worked with various multinationals in Islamabad and Dubai in addition to more than 4 years of uni teaching experience. Her passions range from reading and writing to food and entertainment. A founding member of Fuchsia, Atiya strongly believes in the cause and vision of this pioneering Pakistani publication. She has contributed to mission, strategy and structure. She has laid the foundations for various sections- book reviews, restaurant reviews, SG drawing rooms, as well as written and edited articles on food, art and self-help. She has interviewed celebrities like Mohsin Hamid, Farhan Akhtar, Sana Safinaz, Jimmy Engineer and local Singaporean entrepreneurs as well as unsung heroes like Master Ayub. Currently on a break, Atiya is enjoying literary activities, morning walks, Zumba and spending quality time with family and friends.