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Ideas for a compact live-work home

30 June 2017

Hellen and Winston’s city apartment feels like a dose of Scandinavian-inspired fresh air in a tropical climate. And that’s no coincidence. Hellen is passionate about modern Nordic style and draws on it at home and in her work. Not long after her daughter Savannah Grace (3) was born, she set up a wedding business from the spare room. ‘It’s quite a special thing,’ she says, ‘because this was my first home and it’s now become somewhere to nurture my family and dreams.’ She shares some of her ideas.

Hellen’s Scandi-style apartment in Singapore
Hellen’s Scandi-style apartment in Singapore

Hellen and winston’s home truths

OUR HOME IS… a 95m2 apartment which we bought two years ago when we were
expecting Savannah Grace. It’s where we started our family – not long after, Aiden Joshua (18 months) arrived to join his big sister.

AN ALL-WHITE HOME… is unusual in Singapore, but we love it because it feels fresh and calming. We add life with details in black and blue, which were the colours of our wedding.

EVEN WITH MINIMAL OUTSIDE SPACE… you can still bring in a sense of the outdoors. We love small plants, fresh flowers and nature-inspired patterns.

A portrait of Hellen and Winston
Make a comfy space to unwind in


Try dedicating space – such as a small gardening area or a comfy corner in the living room – to the practice of mindful activities at the beginning and end of your day. ‘I believe in staying present, whether you’re starting on a project or reading a bedtime story,’ says Hellen. ‘Small rituals help separate work from life.’


By thinking through your workspace, you can add details that help you focus. ‘My desk faces the wall to minimise distractions, and I use colour-coded boxes and files to keep messy papers out of sight,’ says Hellen. ‘But we also put an internal window between my office and the living room, so I’m not completely cut off. It’s nice to still feel connected to the family while I work.’

Plan your workspace to stay focused
Colour-coded files keep mess out of sight
Gather the whole family around the table
The dining table is Winston’s favourite spot for relaxing

A big dining table becomes a natural focal point for the whole family and a place to spend time alone. ‘Ours is the heart of our home, says Hellen. ‘Meals are always “family-style” – dishes in the centre, so people can help themselves, which feels sociable and fun. I like experimenting with small table-setting ideas to make every meal feel special. When we’re not eating, the table is Winston’s favourite spot to relax.’

A compact bedroom can still be restful – think nature-inspired details, soothing bedding and organised storage. ‘A mix of hangers and boxes for occasional clothes and accessories means there’s a place for everything in our wardrobe, which keeps the rest of the space clutter-free,’ says Hellen. ‘I love relaxing with a book in our room at the end of the day.’

Use nature-inspired designs to create a bedroom retreat
Mix hangers and boxes to stay clutter-free
Simple storage solutions encourage kids’ independence
Make daily dressing routines easy for kids

Small storage ideas help simplify kids’ daily dressing routines and encourage their independence. ‘Savannah Grace and Aiden Joshua each have their own wardrobe,’ says Hellen. ‘And in the living room they have their own shoe storage. When they come home from school, they take their shoes off and put them away themselves.’ 

‘We chose our neighbourhood in the suburbs because it’s convenient, quiet and close to beaches and rainforest. Singapore is very developed – you rarely see blue sky – so we’re lucky to have a sense of space here.’

Hellen’s high-rise home in the suburbs
Light and bright apartment living
A floorplan for Hellen and Winston’s home

Made by

Photography: Lina Ikse
Styling: Ashlyn Gibson

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