Category: Asian inspiration

Lacquer in Design: from Myanmar to Miles Redd

We were on a little jaunt around Singapore the other weekend when a spot of thunder and lightening and tropical crazy rain hit.  We ducked into the Asian Civilisations Museum for a gander while the sky did its thing, and stumbled across their small but perfectly formed exhibition on lacquerware around Asia (running until November 16, better get your skates on).

We’ve seen lacquered pots and shizzle around the region from time to time (Myanmar and Vietnam are especially famous for the good stuff) but this was the first time I’d seen such incredibly intricate designs, especially the ones incorporating gold leaf and mother of pearl inlay – just beautiful! {Err please excuse the dreadful pics}

Lacquer Across Asia exhibition Asian Civilisations Museum www.caribbeanlivingblog.com1

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Singapore inspiration – air plants a go-go

So although I appreciate this makes me sound approximately 103 years old, I happen to have a bit of a thang for the Botanical Gardens here in Singapore.  The Orchid Garden is just bananas good, but the whole place actually is a gorgeous respite from the heat and bustle of the city.  We were there recently with the fam, and discovered a greenhouse I’d never seen before, the McNeice Bromeliad Collection.

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It’s full of crazy alien-like air plants (aka bromeliads and tillandsias):

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See the ones hanging up top with no soil or anything – felt like one of them was going to jump on my head and eat it.  I may or may not have been watching too many sci-fi movies lately.

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{credits: 1 / 2 / 3}

Weird yet strangely intriguing, no?

I know air plants are a bit of a fad right now and I suspect it might die down sooner than some, but I have to say I am fully ensconced on le bandwagon with this one, absolutely love these for a whimsical touch to a room.

Here are my faves…(some succulents in here also, you know I’m a sucker for succulents).

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Loving this idea for a powder room, although not sure how functional it would be…

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AMAZING on a roof deck or terrace, or even in front of a window actually – love!

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All of these hanging pots/terrariums are pretty much the cat’s pyjamas:

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And they’re also pretty cute in event design!

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It’s the Grand Prix here in Singers this weekend so I need go get 3 days of work done in the next 8 hours…yikes.  We’ve never been to one before, am pretty psyched to see it – full report next week.

What are you up to for the weekend loves, and what do you think of these ‘ere greenies?  Do tell!

Monday’s Masterpiece – Singapore Style

I’ve been meaning to post about Tamarind Hill restaurant, for a while now.  Housed in an old Black and White over in Labrador Park, the (bananas ethnic) decor, (jungle) setting  and (sublime) Thai food combine to make it a must visit resto here in Singers.

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So let’s take a closer look at the decor, shall we?  Sleek and chic are two words that spring to mind, this is Asian ethnic design with a sleek contemporary twist.  I was pretty blown away the first time we I saw this soaring central bar area, just divine:

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Ditto re: the entrance space full of framed antique kilims and ikats, Chinese cabinets and more Buddhas than you can shake a stick at – gorgeous:

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{credits – 1 / 2}

It’s worth heading out West for the decor alone, but they also do a mean Massaman!

And here’s a little semi-copycat scheme I’ve pulled together that’s more suited to residential spaces – there’s nothing like a black Panton chair to get my pulse going…

interior design dining room - dark and modern

{clockwise from top left: lantern, glassware, plate, flatware, chandy, table, Panton chair, rug, floorboards}


Asia inspiration: all natural pools

So since moving to Asia we’ve been lucky enough to have spent more time in the company of cool natural watering holes – I’m talking gorgeous outdoor swimming pools in Indonesia and Vietnam, and the onsen hot springs that cover the entirety of Japan (see here for more info on these puppies).  There is nothing in the world more relaxing than a night time dip under the stars.  Fact.

So this is the pool that started my recent interest in them:

interior design natural pool4Yum.  You can see why, right?!  Stone, wooden decking, pebbles and concrete (done well, you understand) are my picks for gorgeous authentic poolside settings.

I’m talking more of this…

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…and much, much less of this…

interior design natural pool3In fact, none of that whatsoever.  Yuck.

Anyhoo so I’ve rounded up a few of my fave inspo piccies swanning around on t’internet right now.  A pool at home is clearly not an option for most of us (myself included) but it never hurts to have a little oogle I opine.

These first two are INCREDIBLE:

interior design natural pool1Looks a smidge chilly, but y’know I’m not going to turn my nose up at it:

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Bali – yes please:

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Morocco – yes please:

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And this one looks a lot like the countryside at my parent’s place – it’s possible even in Blighty…

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Ancient House Hotel + sneaky courtyards

So the time has come to start boring you with holiday snaps…  Today I wanted to share with you guys the absolutely bee’s knees gorgeous Ancient House Hotel we stayed at in Hoi An, Vietnam.  A beaut of a property, its high ceilings and cool interiors are the perfect respite from the 40 degree temps in town.

Built around said [authentic 200 year old] ancient house, the rest of the hotel is designed to fit in with the traditional architecture, with clay tiled roofs, white pillars, silk lanterns and wooden walkways.

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Rooms are decked out with luurvely canopy beds, cool stone flooring and Asian style furniture – not to mention that bananas Chinese style window carving and tiled/beamed ceiling, yum:

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The service is really very good – fresh fruit is left in your room every day and the reception staff fall over themselves to whip out a cold citronella-scented face cloth every time you get in from the hot streets outside.  Lovely and friendly, I must say I did not want to leave!

ancient house hotel3 The grounds are green and luscious, even in the dry spell this time of year.

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[Err apols, our camera seems to be on its last legs, these pics are pretty hit and miss…]

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Gorgeous pool area, which we didn’t actually use as were too busy running around seeing the sights but it looked fab:

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And check out this sneaky little tropical interior courtyard in the middle of the main house (LHS):

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I would definitely recommend this hotel – it’s a brilliant midrange option for peeps who want a break from the more economical guesthouses (us!) but aren’t wanting to stretch to full on 6 star luxe.

The one thing I was a smidge confused about though is the colour of the walls in the bar and restaurant area – orange and pink (see above LHS) just do not do justice to the grandeur of the property.  This place is lovely as it is, but honestly it has the potential to be a total show stopper.  Refurb the bathrooms to 5 star standard (like this INCREDIBLY magical place) and do away with the rainbow colours on the walls, and it would suddenly shoot up to the land of places you daydream about visiting.  Or is that just me?!

{This is a sponsored post, but all opinions herein are my own}

Anyhoo, so the internal courtyard got me thinking we should incorporate one when we build our future house.  DREAMLAND!  Don’t think you can even do that in Singers.  Ahem, well here are a few other ideas anyway, doesn’t hurt to collect some inspiration I suppose…

Those Moroccans really know how to do it well:

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Couple of contemporary puppies:

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And see here for the rest of this swoon-worthy property below left:

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Bananas batik – part 2

Thanks for the comments yesterday lovelies, the old batik seems to have gone down well. So here’s my little round up of the best places to source these beauts – totally going gaga over the indigo prints top left and centre, mmmmmm:

interior design batik shopping guide

{clockwise from top left: indigo cushion, indigo fabric, grey shade, tangerine cushion, fuchsia cushion, indigo fabric, cherry fabric, royal blue shopper, black boxes, emerald cushion, mini wooden spoons}

A bunch of these are fair trade pieces with proceeds going to the communities who make the cloth, so you get to shop and do a good deed simultaneously – winner!

Beautiful Bali

So living here in Singapore, there is not a day that goes by that I don’t remember how grateful we are to be living here instead of having had to head back to Blighty with our tails between our legs, as we started to fear late last summer.  GOD it was awful!!!

The element of living here that I certainly am most grateful for is all the incredible and cheap travel opportunities – seriously, there are like 25 beautiful countries within a 3 hour flight from here.  One of which is the stonkingly gorgeous Bali.

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So the weekend rocked.  I was up crazy beans early on Friday morning to catch the first flight, and then spent the rest of the day sprinting around Seminyak with my jaw on the pavement and eyes popping out of my skull…

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Helllllo ikat:

Bali sourcing5It turns out there is a LOT to source from there, for cheap cheap cheap!  Seriously the quality/price ratio was laughable, in fact I recognised soooo many things that I’ve been oogling in the boutiques here in Singers.

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Was pretty bummed when I realised this insane peacock chair would not fit in my suitcase…oh yeh, and that blingtastic elephant also:

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So much GORGEOUS wood furnishings and statues:

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I met the padres for a late lunch at Ku De Ta, which was seriously smashing:

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And then did more wandering and drooling.  These two snaps give a good indication of the two sides to Balinese culture, ha:

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So then Ali arrived late Friday night after work and we headed down the the Temple Lodge on the Bukit Peninsula.  I’ve written about this place before, and am still totally and utterly in love with it, think this may become a permanent annual pilgrimage for our anniversary…

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All the eclectic carved wood and attention to detail is just incredible.  And the outdoor bathrooms?!  Oh my WORD it was amazing to have an outdoor shower again, we’ve been missing our old one in Cayman!

So the rest of the weekend was spent mopeding (no crashes this time…), surfing, yogaing and generally feeling very content.  Thank you Singapore!

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Roof deck conundrums – part 2

Morning peeps!  Thanks for the comments yesterday, glad you’re liking the Moroccan option.  So today I wanted to show you what I’m blathering on about re Balinese terraces, but have only been able to find a few good piccies.

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It’s kinda tricky to describe exactly what I mean by ‘Balinese style’ for a terrace so I thought the best way to explain is to create one…

balinese terrace interior design

{credits clockwise from top left: trellis, handira, daybed, table, cushions, tree, white potwicker lanterns, natural stool, tiles, outdoor rug}

So please cast your votes!  Do you prefer the colourful Moroccan shindig or the peaceful Balinese bale…?  I think I’m leaning towards the latter, hmm.  Although I might lose the blue cushion…yikes, I don’t know what’s happened to me lately, I used to be ALL about the colour.

Shoji swooning

Morning morning!  So let’s continue the Japanese theme today by looking at all things Shoji.  The main facets of Japanese interior design focus on concepts such as simplicity, uncluttered spaces, raw natural materials, privacy, and having a flexible living space in order to make the most of your home.

Shoji screens provide the last three of these ideals: a wooden frame combined with translucent rice paper, these act as sliding walls, room divider screens or even windows/doors and provide privacy while allowing a gorgeous diffused light to enter the space.  As sliding panels, the home can also be reconfigured into various ‘rooms’ as necessary.


So here are a few very traditional Japanese schemes, to show you what I’m going on about…

Tatami mats are usually used on the floor – made out of rice straw they are traditionally a fixed smallish size, so many are used next to each other.  I’m having a bit of a sisal rug moment right now (along with, err, the rest of the design world) and these look pretty similar.

I think this is actually a set of Fusuma sliding panels: made of a wooden frame with hand-painted cloth or paper, they act very much like Shoji screens in terms of allowing a flexible living space.

And this one is pretty stonking, no?!


And here are a bunch of Japanese-meets-Western interior design schemes, which are perhaps a little more relevant to us. 

Another gorgeous Fusuma screen:

Totally enamoured with these floating shelves set onto a Shoji panel:

And this quirky bedframe sits perfectly against its more traditional backdrop:

Yes to the bamboo ladder!

LOOOOVE this shot – it did just occur to me though that you’d have to use frosted glass or some such material in bathroom screens, as I guess steam wouldn’t do the rice paper any favours.  Soggy Shoji can never be a good thing…

A very chic set of pantry doors!

And it’s also a great way to create privacy for overlooked windows, a much sleeker option than sheers.  I think these are actually fake windows, so it’s clearly also a fab way to break up large horizontal expanses of wall: 

A fabulous dark and moody option for a study:

And I love me a good barn door I do, especially when combined with some Shoji! 

Or alternatively, to get a Japanese vibe going forget the Shoji screens and just paint a panda on to your bedroom wall…

Ha, KIDDING.  Oh wait, do you even get pandas in Japan?!  I know not.


In case this has inspired further Shoji oogling, check out these stores for sourcing options.

The place to go for bespoke wall panels is definitely Pacific Shoji Works

Hayneedle has a whole load of options, for both panels and screens:

The Room Divider Store has a few beauts:

And Oriental Furniture will do you any colour of the rainbow:

So what do you think?  Time to add a little zen to your space…?