Amy Long and her home are perfect examples of how it’s never too late for reinvention. Having worked in the energy industry for 15 years, Long made a mid-career switch in August 2020 and scored an apprenticeship at interior design firm Elizabeth Hay Design. There, she learned about the finer points of the craft as well as client servicing, troubleshooting and logistics. In March 2021, she took on the role of general manager of Vermillion, a luxury B2B e-commerce platform that connects Asian creators and designers to hospitality groups and boutiques globally.
So you could almost say that Long’s home, a 1980s-era, four-bedroom apartment in the Mount Sinai neighbourhood, is the colour-filled manifestation of her lifelong passion for design. And what a home it is with rooms and pockets of space filled with distinct identities that fit harmoniously into a whole.
“It’s large, yet all on one floor,” Long says of the 4,100sqft space that she shares with her husband, and two daughters, Sierra (eight) and Willow (six), and her helper, Marilyn. “The large veranda enjoys strong cross breezes, allowing for an indoor-outdoor lifestyle. The unusual floor plan, a legacy of the previous owner, suited us perfectly: A separate living room and family room, separate office spaces for my husband and myself, and a main bedroom separated from the rest of the bedrooms. The building’s back gate connects to the park connector, and the MRT station is a short walk away.”
On the decision to minimise construction waste, she says: “We didn’t want to rip things out just because we didn’t fancy them; we tried to reuse and refresh as much as we could.” As such, the only major changes consisted of raising the ceiling heights, and a complete gut job of the kitchen and yard. Existing bathroom cabinetry was kept but repainted a fresher colour, while existing wardrobe doors were wallpapered over and their knobs switched out.
She also set herself a fun challenge of reusing as many pieces as possible from her previous place, transforming them via re-upholstery, paint and so on; “new” items had to be older than anyone in the house, or custom-made. “It’s like a decorating game, but one that also contributes to layers of story and meaning,” she shares.
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What has shaped her taste most, she says, was a little cottage she once rented while holidaying in Saint-Tropez. “Everything was really layered and personal; nothing was too precious or careful. And although it contained a lot of stuff, together, the house was perfectly cohesive. I realised interiors shouldn’t be perfect or ‘done’,” she recalls. “The spaces I like the best now are a bit wild and exuberant, a reflection of the people who live there and their interests and lives. I firmly believe that you should collect what you love—but only what you really love—and not worry too much about it; it will find a perfect spot in your home, simply because it belongs to you.”
And what do visitors think of her home? “They’re usually taken aback because the unassuming condo façade gives no hint to the complete madness inside. Then, they tell me they enjoy it because it’s so different. Except my mum; it’s too much for her. When I decorated her place, I had to assure her every week that I’d apply restraint,” Long quips.
The mood in the living room is exotically palatial, with an entire wall clad in London brand de Gournay’s scenic wallpaper of ancient Indian monuments, turbaned sahibs, camels, and elephants, setting the tone. Overhead, a lofty coffered ceiling with cross beams evokes a sense of classical grandeur.
Intentionally mismatched pairs of beige upholstered sofas, and 1970s Ficks Reed lucite and cane armchairs and wooden chairs create a pleasing sense of symmetry, while a selection of objets d’art—such as an 1880s Chinese lacquered basket, 1940s Italian “stone fruit” ceramic pieces and an ancient Roman glass bottle from 400 BC—and scatter cushions in a mix of fabrics from across the globe add to the eclectic charm.
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“It’s a riot of wonderful memories and places. They all mean something to me, but hopefully are fun and engaging even if you don’t know the stories behind them,” she says.
In order to create a visual link between the various areas in the expansive space, Moghul arches and a colour scheme consisting mainly of various shades of lapis blue and terracotta were used.
The capacious wood-decked balcony, surrounded by lush foliage, extends the idea of tropical chic. A vintage marble-top “kopitiam”-style table, surrounded by matching chairs, provides the perfect spot for al fresco dining. A well-stocked bar cart, perched in front of a pair of antique wooden Chinese doors, means cocktails are always within easy reach.
The living room segues into the family room. In one corner, an oversize candy-striped L-shaped sofa, topped with cushions and backed by a glass-encased shelf displaying a collection of Depression-era American hobnail milk glasses and English mantle vases, makes for cosy conversations. The kids’ corner at the opposite end is decked out with doll’s houses, a child-sized kitchen playset and toy-filled shelves. A gallery-style display of tropical botanical prints and animal watercolours imbues the space with a playful, youthful energy. A series of white custom-made arched shelves offers a glamorously exotic way to corral the family’s reading materials.
The adjacent dining room has a more contemporary feel, thanks to the graphic salmon-and-blue wallpaper and bold blue pocket doors. A contemporary, irregularly shaped Lindsey Adelman chandelier hangs over a 10-seater custom teak dining table with curved bronze legs. At the far end, neat rows of framed antique postcards of Singapore above a French art deco wooden sideboard with white urn-shaped lamps give the space a Wes Anderson-esque feel.
“We love entertaining—a leisurely dinner, starting with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, settling into a family-style meal, then dessert with digestifs and home-made lemongrass and ginger tea. But we aren’t the kind of hosts who perfect a menu and only then serve it. Guests are perfect guinea pigs!” she says.
Close by are the kitchen, with its terracotta-hued cabinets, brass fittings, white subway tiles and open shelving, and Long’s home office, a playful space with its faux tented blue-and-white striped ceiling, wallpaper featuring blue pineapple motifs and a built-in desk topped with a slab of blue quartz. Light fixtures and cabinetry in plain white temper the bold use of print in this space. And should Long need a breath of fresh air, the adjacent balcony beckons, with its pair of rattan cocoon swings.
In contrast, the family’s shared study is more subdued, with its soft sage and grey colour scheme and an antique Chinese daybed on which the family cosies up for movies, or where Long and her husband sit back to listen to the girls’ cello practice.
The master bedroom feels like a romantic after-dark stroll in a Mediterranean garden, thanks to its deep blue walls, the charming antique lemon chandelier hanging overhead, and the bed frame fully upholstered in the Citrus Garden fabric by Schumacher, featuring an exuberant jumble of butterflies and flora. Once again, that Wes Anderson-esque sense of symmetry is achieved, thanks to the identical pair of curvy oxblood table lamps perched precisely atop colonial‐style bedside tables on either side of the bed.
Over in the girls’ bedroom, an unabashedly joyful vibe prevails, with oversize paisley patterns, abstract Indian floral motifs, and garnet and sky blue stripes clashing delightfully on the walls, twin beds, window seats and roman blinds. The guest bedroom, with its dark wood four-poster bed, taupe floral wallpaper and grass-green décor accents, is arguably the most minimalist space in this maximalist home.
Long’s love of prints and colours reflects in her wardrobe too. “Growing up, some of my happiest memories were scouring the alleys in Hong Kong with my mum for special buttons and working on
sewing projects together,” she shares. “As a high school student in NYC, I took evening dressmaking classes at the Parsons School of Design. But I haven’t sewed since. Being an interior designer made me realise: ‘Wait, I can make these cushions; I can make my own clothes too.’ So now, when a dress catches my eye, I think: Can I make it?”
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That has led to an evolution in her personal style, from “solid colours and simple, structured shapes, a lot of Roland Mouret, Victoria Beckham, Jason Wu” to a hearty embrace of tropical brights. “With this kind of heat and sunshine, I just want to wear happy colours all the time,” she says. “I hardly have any black items in my wardrobe now. And basically, only dresses. Seriously, it’s too hot to wear pants.”
And while it might look like she owns a lot of stuff, Long has a disciplined approach to her purchases: “I want what I have to be items I truly care about and which will last. Generally, I aim to have only one item in each category. While I absolutely do make impulse buys, I spring-clean regularly with zeal as a counterpoint: If I’m not in love with it, it’s gone.” She admits, though, that it can be hard, especially in her line of work.
“I’m always falling in love with the artists I meet and it’s hard to leave a studio empty-handed,” she explains, especially since she adores decorative ceramics, glass and all things lacquered. “But I’m at the saturation point: Anything new has to be really extraordinary. Luckily, I always have the excuse of buying gifts!”
Photographed by Veronica Tay
Styled by Gracia Phang