In a transition from a house to a home, many critical things take place. The space, parameters and monetary value often make up the definition of a house—whether it be a HDB flat or semi-detached house. However, it’s definitely more complex when you’re talking about a home. The adage goes: “Home is where the heart is”—which means it’s dependent on the people that are living in it and what they choose to make of it. There is no fixed formula nor is there a rulebook for cultivating and building a home.
In our interior series titled ‘What’s in my home’, we profile living spaces in Singapore that are specially curated by individuals from all walks of life. Not only are they aspirational to fawn over, they are stemmed from unique design facets sourced and dreamed up by these homeowners. From unconventional floor-plans to vintage rugs and custom-made furniture, we prodded them on their insider tips and recommendations, as well as uncovering the story behind the home they have built for themselves.
A power couple in their own right, Celine Tan and Alexander Mordvincev met in 2014 after a fateful swipe to the right. Fast forward 8 years, they’re now the Mordvincev family with the addition of their 3.5 year old son, Nikolai. Celine manages her role as partner at communications firm, The Ate Group and is the co-founder of local caviar brand Caviar Colony, while Alexander coaches the Singapore National Swim Team.
Having moved into the HDB executive apartment in September 2021, they’ve built a sophisticated haven—lined with sleek silhouettes inspired by historical Eastern European architecture. We spoke to Tan to understand the inspiration behind the home, the couple’s favourite areas and her personal home recommendations.
Celine’s personal picks:
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I would describe my home as...
my safe haven. A place where we can all rest and regenerate. It is a place for spending time together as a family, as well as a place where we can retreat into the privacy of our own individual bubbles.
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This could not have been accomplished without...
Stacey from Stacey Leong Interiors. She just got us, she embraced our needs and our preferences while injecting her sophisticated ideas. She also has a way of making things simple and made it a point to encourage open communication between us.
One of the main things we said to Stacey was that when we come home, we want to feel transported. It needs to have a sense of entry that reminds you that you ought to leave your troubles at the door as you enter.
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I was inspired by...
modern interior architecture in Eastern Europe that combined modern sleek lines with historical architecture. We gravitated towards a warm palette of taupes, ivory and tobacco, which feels light and almost weightless.
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My favourite feature of the home is...
suspension dining lights by Marset. It really adds so much to the space. Its linearity draws the eye towards the focal piece below. At the same time, being a sturdy, instead of a swinging pendant works for us as we usually like to keep our Haiku ceiling fan running.
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The most recent addition to the home...
is an artwork that I commissioned Singapore artist Tan Zi Xi to create with me as a surprise for my husband Alex, who was born in a small town in Ukraine. During the pandemic, we missed his home and our parents who are still living there.
The illustration is in the shape of a human heart with a cherry blossom tree (a famed fixture in his hometown) in full bloom at its core. Here, Alex’s family home and the school he attended also make an appearance. They are hidden amongst Zixi’s depiction of the town’s architectural icons, statues, cobblestone streets, local fruits and vegetables. This art means so much more to us now as Ukraine will never be the same again. It can be seen immediately as you enter our home and reminds us of the love we have for our family.
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The oldest piece of furniture here is...
my late father’s sculpture. It’s nice that he can still be a part of our home. He carved it himself when he was 16. It represents a man with his arms raised in victory after completing a long race. It is a true reflection of my father’s determination and grit, values that he held onto throughout his life.
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You’ll usually find me at....
our 2.8m island. We viewed hundreds of marble slabs before picking this piece out. Stacey was right, when you see “the one”, you will not forget it. This is what this piece of Versilys marble did for us. Parts of its variegated hues remind us of shaved white truffles.
Everything happens here. I roll dough for pizza and bread, and prepare cakes and ice cream there. We enjoy working or preparing a meal as we can see the entire living area from that vantage point and are able to keep an eye on our son Niko while he plays. On the weekend, we also cut and arrange flowers.
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Something I couldn’t live without in the home are...
the double glazed windows by Noise Plaster. They really seal us in and keep all surrounding sounds at bay. I am a really light sleeper and the slightest noise wakes me, so these windows have been a godsend. They afford me the luxury of a good rest, which is self care—the big thing this year for me.
My husband’s answer would be the bar, he prepares all his morning coffees (a new-found passion he developed during the pandemic) and evening cocktails for our guests there. He mixes a mean G&T.
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I got lucky with...
our dining table which was designed by Stacey and custom-made by Martlewood, local furniture makers. It is now listed for purchase on their website as the Astrid. My mother bought us this table. It’s a tradition in my family that parents will either give their children a dining table to enjoy family meals at, or the matrimonial bed. We chose the former.
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What I learnt from the design process is...
to trust your designer. Be reasonable but firm especially with decisions. Nobody likes a wishy-washy person.
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I love my home because...
it keeps our family safe and comfortable. We are at peace when we enter our home.