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Interview With Lee Chi Ho on Country Style

Country Style Homes

Mr. Lee Chi Ho, an architect by training, has been with The Orange Cube, an interior decorating firm, for more than three years. He oversees the design department and has worked on a number of styles for his clients, including the country style. We interviewed him to learn more about his views.

Q: What are some of the popular decorating styles in Singapore?
A: Modern contemporary design is the most requested. This basically means open and uncluttered spaces, lots of clean lines, clean planes, very strong colours play against like more bland clean colours creating a contrast.

There are variations to this fundamentally what you call 'International Style' with the introduction of accent colours, textures and patterns so that's mainly the most requested style instead of modern contemporary design. Also it means places are easier to clean.

Q: What are the different types of country style in home decor?
A: When you talk about country style, actually it refers to a style that is related to certain countries so I guess in Singapore context, if you talk about country style strictly, you are talking about kampong style. But in general, in Singapore people when they talk about country style, it's more like either American country or maybe Southern European country where you have lots of texture, lots of countryside elements that was brought into the house. Whereas compared to let's say country style in Northern Europe where the country style is more rugged and hard edged, the kind of country style you get relating to this particular term to Northern Europe country is quite different from what the interpretations are of that in Singapore.

Q: In your experience, is the country style popular in Singapore? Why or why not?
A: When you talk about American and Southern Europe, meaning Mediterranean, yes there is an audience for it but not the mainstream because the country style which, like I said earlier, is quite rich and I think is rather decorative and not a lot of people either because of budget or because of personal preferences go for that kind of style; but there are people who do enjoy, creating their house, turning their house into a country house.

Q: Are there any particular groups of people who prefer the country style?
A: Mainly perhaps Malays, they do prefer this kind of angle because the Malay culture is also very rich in detailing and so on so they do appreciate this kind of style.

Q: How does the country style compare to other decorating styles?
A: Country style is actually very decorative, lot of things have addition inside, on top like trimmings and very fine details and lots of ornaments, very rich, very busy, alot of things happening. So in theory, this is like the exact opposite of what modern style is about, where modern style is about clean lines, unclutteredness and so on.

Q: Any tips for people who are interested in the country style?
A: It's more of a selection of materials and colours. For example, let's say flooring in a Mediterranean country house, like terracota, textured kind of tiles with very rich strong colours or things even like carpeting in bedrooms rather than having a hard cold kind of floor. Of course sometimes timber flooring will also do the trick as well but of course there are lots of practical issues to consider. In general, like most country style house overseas, we are talking about antique furniture, more loose furnishings rather than things that are more built-in and permanent.

Q: Can HDB flats incorporate country style elements?
A: That's not to say that if you are going for a country style, you need to do up the whole house in that style. You can use loose furnishings, decorations to enhance your existing house to make it more country.

Examples of the country style handled by The Orange Cube website may be found at