Traveling the World with the Dharmarajs’ in their Tanah Merah Home

22 July 2021

At Home With 
David, Rose and Bodhi Dharmaraj
A Cluster House in Tanah Merah with a Colonial theme

Cost of Renovation $250,000, Project by Arjan Nijen Twilhaar

When homeowners David and Rose Dharmaraj, a pilot and homemaker, were looking for that special someone to help create their dream home, coming across and engaging designer Arjan Nijen Twilhaar was one of the best decisions made. “I loved his designs and his European flair,” Rose said. “I showed Arjan’s designs to David and he, too, liked the style. Hence, we knew almost immediately that we just had to have him.”

During the first meeting, David, Rose and Arjan had hit it off instantly. “Arjan was very upfront from the moment we met,” Rose shared. “He actually shared that he was occupied with an existing project and asked if we were comfortable with waiting for him to be available. I remember telling my hubby ‘YES’ as we really knew we wanted Arjan!”

A Piece of Thailand at Home

The design of the Dharmaraj home was mostly centered around their love for all things Colonial with the incorporation of Thai elements in certain areas of the home. “David is half Thai, so we wanted to include part of his heritage into the home,” Rose said. 

One of the many standout features of the home would be the wallpaper in the dining room that showcases a scenic view of the Chao Phraya River in Thailand. Like many of the other Thai-inspired elements in the home, this wallpaper was specially selected by Arjan. 

“We were informed by Arjan about this painting-like wallpaper and once we had seen it, we simply fell in love with it!” Rose shared. “It’s very relaxing to look at, especially now when we can’t travel like before. When we used to have bigger gatherings in the past, we would also receive great feedback from our friends about it.”

A large round bone inlay table centres the space and the shape reflects a Thai food bowl design. The green silk velvet chairs add more colour and create a vibrant vignette.

The Kitchen – The Heart of the Home

“Even though the majority of the home is designed with a Colonial theme, Arjan kept our kitchen modern and made it the heart of the home.”

The kitchen was shifted from its original layout into the living room area so that the avid cooks would be able to have a larger space. “The original kitchen was really small, and because we do a lot of cooking at home we knew we needed the space,” Rose shared. “The moment Arjan stepped into the home, he knew right away that he wanted to shift the kitchen to enlarge the space and to also accommodate all the kitchen equipment that we were going to have.”

“It was such a major game changer for us! Our friends who come over can’t believe that it was previously a living room; a lot of them will even bring in chairs from the outside just to hang out in here.”

With David travelling frequently due to the nature of his job and Rose having been an ex-flight stewardess, their kitchen pays homage to their travels with a collection of unique magnets that can be found on the side door. 

For Family Only

In the basement of the home, a dedicated family room was created so that David and Rose would have a special area just for themselves and Bodhi. This family room also contains hidden storage areas that store David’s uniform and luggage so that he can seamlessly prepare for work before heading out. 

Being a hands-on designer, Arjan had helped to put up the structure above the TV

“The old artifact above the door frame was purchased in Thailand, and at first we were wondering where we could place it in our new home,” Rose said. “Arjan came up with the idea of making it see through and integrating it as part of the doorway so that when we come in from the carpark, we are greeted by the elephants.”

An Optical Illusion 

Rose recalled a hilarious incident which occurred during the renovation journey when they came by to the new home to check on the progress. “The balcony was not fully up yet, so when I got to that area, I thought I saw something new and I was like ‘hey! What’s that?’” she laughed. “Turns out, Arjan had placed mirrors behind the balcony wall to give the illusion of a bigger space and I was just so excited to be seeing it that I texted him saying ‘it looks really good!’ and his reply to me was ‘my dear, we already spoke about this!’”

“When we were shopping for the outdoor furniture, Arjan had come along as well,” Rose further shared. “We really enjoyed the whole process with him as he’s so hands on and included us in every decision he made.”

“Arjan presented us with fantastic ideas and put a lot of thought into his designs. He compartmentalised the designs such that we are able to open and close up certain features whenever we want.”

Custom cabinets with rattan were added and a larder was carved out from the space under the stairs. While the design and material choices are colonial in style, the colours and eclectic decorations make this a contemporary space.

The master bathroom tiles are slightly bolder, with its travertine design and cobalt blue deco tile. The vanity is in a nautical blue laminate shaker, combined with hand painted porcelain knobs. A luxury mirror adds a bit of glamour and visual interest.

The powder room tiles are in a fabric weave pattern, picking up on the overall theme. A large decorative panel with palm leaves adds a pop of colour and visual interest. The vanity countertop is a live edge wood slab, which is combined with antiqued brass fittings and a mirror. 

A Little Tip

“Call Arjan!” David and Rose excitedly exclaimed. “You won’t regret it!”

 

 

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