From Dark and Dated to Modern Mediterranean

Text by : Darren Ng

Photograph by : Ed Ritger


A Z-shaped bookcase was built into the living room to reveal the homeowners' love for reading.


The laid-back tone in the kitchen is set with a casual dining area with a banquette that goes across the wall.


Large windows create an airy look in the kitchen and introduce natural light into the working areas of the kitchen.


Tall oversized windows frame the fireplace in the bedroom.


Texture and patterns provide a cultured finish for the vanity room.


From gutting out the entire floor plan of the home, there was space to work in a Carrara marble bath into the shower room.


The texture of the tile shines under the light colour scheme of the bathroom.


Drawing influences from the couple's well-travelled taste buds, the rear of the dining chairs are worked with ikat fabrics for a right pop of colour.


The living room displays an abundance of natural elements like raw wood and tile.

Interior designer Cynthia Spence has an axe to grind when she cites the situation of how most would hire a money manager to take control of their funds but scrimp and save on an interior designer when revamping their home. An interior designer plays to the needs of one’s family, custom-creating spaces that improve on the fundamentals and enhances how one lives in their home. The importance of an interior designer is understated even though the roles they take on in the creation of a homely environment are huge.

Like winning a lottery ticket or getting onto a train just before it pulls away, there are certain things in life that can be put down to fortuitous timing and luck. In the case of a lovely Mediterranean hilltop family, the homeowner of a family of five discovered that he shared a personal trainer with Cynthia Spence just when his family was just about to remodel their six-bedroom bungalow. The timing was uncanny.

After the initial formalities were out of the way, Spence settled on a plan that brought in a modernistic look to the classic Mediterranean exterior with a complete refashion of the floor plan. The original interior was disoriented and exhibited a dark and dated design that grew into a gloom and doom feel in the home. To cut short that note, taller windows were added throughout the home to bath the home in an abundance of natural sunlight while introducing the landscape of the surrounding mountains.

Like most residences, the focal point of the home is found in the living hall. The pre-existing fireplace was dusted up and given a spanking re-treatment with aged wooden panels of different shades making up the feature wall. Like the fireplace, an emphasis on texture can be found in the fabrics of the living room. Drawing on the couple’s exquisite and well-travelled taste buds, different finishes and layered fabrics like ikat and mandala patterns go over cushion covers, seat covers and curtains, dolling up the home with mysticism and culture. As a way of sequestering the living area from the dining space, a unique Z-shaped floor-to-ceiling bookcase was brought in as replacement for the original wet bar in the living room. Not only does it parades the homeowners’ sophistication in the collection of books displayed, its location within the conducive room places a trove of titles at one’s fingertips – encouraging the flipping of pages whenever time permits.

As disciples of the eco-friendly movement, pieces of the homeowner’s furniture collection were retained and customised with new textiles from Nobilis, Dedar and Donghia, challenging the norm of a throw-away culture fueled by consumerism and preserving the homeowners’ personal identity. In the dining hall, ikat fabrics wrap the tail of the chair and go sharply with the oversized Middle Eastern tapestry rug.

The boldest change can be found in the cooking area in which the remodel has unraveled plans for an open concept kitchen. When it comes down to a workspace, the dependable island counter is generally called upon for its extended counter space and multi-functional worktop. In the kitchen, a customised island counter with built-in basin sink and cooking stove was positioned in spitting distance of the twin-door refrigerator, completing the golden work triangle. Away from the chaos in the cooking area, quick meals are served at the casual dining table, where one can choose to sit on the chair or the banquette going along the entire wall.

Spence decided a total reorganisation of the master suite would be the best way to bring out the views of the stunning surrounding. In the bedroom, tall flanking windows frame a modern fireplace, while a reading nook was constructed to capture the picturesque views from the outside. Through the complete reorganisation, special room was dedicated to pander to the homeowners’ request for a luxurious Carrara marble bath assembled in the bathroom tiled with white marble slabs and completed with shaker storage cabinets.

In the redesign of a dark and dated hilltop home for the family of five, Spence had to throw out a few of the common rules for a blueprint that is stacked on comfort, cosiness and contemporary vibes. The six bedrooms and four bathrooms all have a serene quality to it and are built for comfort. Who would have thought that this blossoming partnership would arise from a workout at the gym?

Cynthia Spence Design,