Who needs to café hop when your own home exudes cosy and whimsical café vibes? Home owners Yeo Kai Wen and Steffi Koh created an escape into another era inspired by cottage aesthetics, in their 4-room flat at Dakota Breeze.

A Well-located ‘Cottage’

Home owners Kai Wen and Steffi incorporated cottage aesthetics for a warm and cosy home – the kitchen shelf features tongue and groove panels for a classic English cottage look

The good location of this ‘high-rise cottage’—a ten-minute train ride from town— was the main reason why Kai Wen and Steffi decided to ballot for this BTO project, back when they were still in university. “We appreciate the convenience of travelling to many places effortlessly,” Kai Wen shares. “As our flat is in a choice location, it was more expensive compared to some of our friends’, but we were willing to tackle this cost by saving more from our daily expenses.”

As young buyers, the couple didn’t have to pay much downpayment under the Staggered Downpayment Scheme. They also benefitted from a $10,000 in grants to offset the purchase price of the flat.

Of Wooden Accents and Vintage Vibes

“When we thought about how our home should be like, an old wooden table came to mind,” Steffi recalls. In the end, the couple’s liking for warm, wooden accents, and fascination with vintage things, were a great match for a cottage-style home.

The flat exudes old world charm and features natural materials and vintage elements.
A refurbished vintage roti shelf, which the couple found on Carousell, adds to the charming café vibes
The study features a vintage wooden shelf made in the 1980s from Denmark – the most expensive item in this home
For their love of old things and aircraft related items, the couple purchased an SIA vintage pushcart to store their snacks in style

Besides incorporating lot of wood or wood-like furnishings, the couple also added raintree planks to accentuate their wall in the living-dining area. To complete the cosy look of their home, warm lighting was chosen. “None of our lights are white – we’ve always envisioned a tungsten lighting look,” Kai Wen explains.

Raintree planks embellished with a self-tied dried bouquet help to accentuate the living-dining area
Windows were created for the wall between the study room and living room to add wooden accents and allow more light to pass through

A Blend of Personal Touches

What really adds to the character of the home is the couple’s collection of various knick-knacks such as Steffi’s collection of handmade dolls. Among them is a pair of dolls Kai Wen specially customised for his wedding proposal to Steffi.

Steffi’s collection of handmade dolls displayed in a glass cabinet beneath their kitchen island

“I’ve always been interested in handmade and vintage things, so we adopted a vintage Zakka style. This way, we can incorporate aesthetics from different time periods, and create a space for some of our favourite things. It may sound messy, but it’s not because we curate the things that go into our home,” Steffi explains.

Steffi hand-sewed a curtain using fabric with buffalo checks – a print typical of cottage aesthetics, to hide the bomb shelter door

Her favourite item from their collection is a vintage-inspired plate rack, set prettily against a sepia tone wallpaper with leaf motifs. “When I think of vintage, it is a rack with vintage plates – I took a long time to find the right items, so I was really happy when this corner was completed,” she smiles.

Kai Wen’s favourite item, on the other hand, is the cuckoo clock bought from their trip to Germany. Germany was in fact, where the couple found inspiration of how a home with cottage aesthetic would look.

The plate rack corner (left) is Steffi’s favourite spot in her home
Vintage tableware
Other knick-knacks on the plate rack
Cuckoo clock bought from Germany, with a rabbit sitting on the left of its clockface – perfect for the couple who owns a pet rabbit

While the couple’s collection of items seems varied and extensive, there is a method to their ‘madness’ as they take stock of what they have from time to time. “Whenever an area is full, we check if we really need the items, and if they fit together. This helps us to avoid hoarding.”

On the upside, “Zakka is very lived in – even if you leave something on the table, it doesn’t look out of place,” Steffi laughs.

To keep their items perfectly curated, the couple takes stock of what they have regularly

Journey to Their Dream Home

Putting together a mishmash of things was a gradual process. “We were renting while waiting for our flat to be completed, and during that time we were already curating items such as our vintage bookshelf and other knick-knacks,” Steffi recounts.

The sage green accents in their current home are also a nod to the sage green walls that they had painted and loved, back in the flat which they rented at Tanglin Halt.

“It was nice to stay in Tanglin Halt, it feels like we were a little part of history. But we’re glad to be in our own home now – we no longer have to worry that the lease is going to end and that we’d have to find our next home. Here, we make our own rules, and it feels really comfortable this way,” the couple smiles.

By Desiree Tan
Photos by Nicholas Yau

  • Desiree Tan

    An old soul into slow movies, people’s stories, and making sense of the world through writing. She bakes better than she can count calories.

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