The Apartment – Ep 8 Leisurely Yours……

I didn’t know what to say.

The judges’s decision during elimination left me feeling…empty and disappointed. In the bottom two were The Opportunists and Glue & Glam. And the team who should have been sent home based on this challenge alone, got to stay. Something smells……

This week’s challenge was to transform the basement into a leisure room. The remaining four teams had a very awkward space to work with. On the one bigger side, they needed to create a home entertainment environment while on the other side, in a separate small room thats connected, they had to create a bar of some sort. And not forgetting the elevator shaft in the middle of everything. I would say, this would be the most challenging space to work on for me.

The twist? They had “belongings” that belonged to a mystery guest judge. The teams were handed out things from a handbag to heels to a dress. They had to use these items as inspiration and to make it all fit and look like they belong together. I thought they could have come up with a better challenge. (Has anyone seen Australia’s The Block?)

The Opportunist were given a dress that had a image of a painting. Something you could wear for tea. Perhaps high tea in an English garden. So clearly, you would do something like this, wouldn’t you?:

TO Leisure Room


I mean, seriously. WTH? Imagine watching The Lord of the Rings Trilogy in here. Now, put your chiropractor on speed dial. And don’t forget all the floral. (How could you? #inyourface) Floral carpet underneath floral chairs and floral dividers and (plastic) floral arrangements……..Quaint isn’t it?

Ok, so they were thrown off by the dress, they claimed. Let’s say we accept the (lame) excuse. The majority of their other rooms had asian influences and this room did not flow with the rest of the house. Just sayin’.

Now, because Glue & Glam were brought back mid competition, they had plenty of rooms to catch up on. Despite being advised to use the basement like everybody else, they decided to use the room that everyone had the kid’s room in. That could have proven their downfall. Design wise, it had a lot of potential. I thought they were so cool for putting up fibre optic starlight in the ceiling. You can’t see it in their pictures so it looks something like this:


A lot of hard work, I would imagine. Alas, that was the only thing I loved in that room. The rest of the room just did not live up to those lights.

GG Leisure Room


It looked more like a sleazy KTV bar. I was surprised that they paired “fish tank” lights along the wall with their amazing ceiling lights, cheapening the look. It looked very cold too, not at all welcoming. I guess I expected more from Mera and Kishz as I really liked some of their previous designs.


 I do get why Glue & Glam were eliminated. In my opinion, I think both teams should have been eliminated. But if  I had to pick one team only, I feel that Glue & Glam deserved to stay more, especially after Chelsea’s (The Opportunists) outburst in the judging room. Granted she has worked very hard and has had her fair share of frustrations, her attitude leaves much to be desired.

And I couldn’t bear to hear anymore of her nagging and complaining.

But it makes for good “reality” TV…….


Finally! A very well deserved win by Bros United. I was so impressed with the result of their hard work and genius. Armed with a computer and graphic design skills, they transformed the space elegantly:

BU Leisure Room


Frankly, I wouldn’t do anything differently because it is so freaking awesome! The colour combination and the movie star portraits just blew me away. Paula and I always thought they would be the ones to beat in this entire competition. All that is missing is a concession stand:


Right. I’m starting to lose interest in the competition now but I still wish the top 3 teams all the best. Congratulations! Go for Veo!


The Apartment Ep 7 – Guest Room

So this room’s theme was fashion. And of course glamourous. The twist? Everyone would lose their team mates 6 hours into the challenge. After watching this episode of The Apartment, I was really confused about what the judges were looking for. I was baffled by the choices made thus far. Let’s just compare the rooms between the winner of the challenge and the team that got sent home.


Opportunist Guest

The only things I liked about this room is the red horse, chest of drawers and the mirror. Even then, I preferred Dali’s mirror. The wallpaper wasn’t bad either but it was undermined by those curtains with similar print. Too busy lookin’. And what is up with that magazine cut out collage thing up on the chest of drawers? It didn’t look like much thought was given to putting the room together. Talk about having no soul. Just cold.


Strangers Guest

I have mixed feelings for this room. They definitely fulfilled the theme of fashion with the dress headboard and the very well heeled chandelier. The judges were looking for innovative and out of the box ideas and they achieved it with The Strangers. Everything in this room was given thought and meaning (unlike The Opportunists’). I appreciate their concept with the colour choice (a homage to Proenza Schouler) , even though I wouldn’t have picked it myself. The only question I had was, if I had to change the sheets, would I have to sew another dress?! So some didn’t get their colour scheme and the judges felt that The Strangers were presenting amazing work week after week but with no heart/soul. Does that mean they deserved to be sent home? That would be a big fat resounding NO! The two teams that have displayed flair in their design ideas are The Strangers and Bros United. Special mention to Team Dali as well.


I believe that a guest room should be restful as well as reflect a personality that will suit anyone who find themselves in a sleepover in your abode. It doesn’t mean you have to keep it safe.

I choose a black and white colour palette with blue for that added colour pop. For the wall behind the bed, I would use bold wallpaper. My pick is black and white vertical lines:

B&W strip wall paper

NOTE: Make sure the stripes are not too narrow otherwise you will be giving your guests an optical vision headache!

For lighting, I would go for a blue chandelier shown here:

Blue Chandelier

To enhance the fashion factor, I would make my own semi precious stone necklaces and string them on the chandelier. For extra lighting and fashion element, I would add a standing lamp piece like so:

Standing on set light

On a wall facing the bed, I would include images of old hollywood glam in a photo collage of diamante frames. Audrey Hepburn, Jackie O and Marlene Dietrich come to mind:


I would also adorn my wardrobe doors with fashion sketchings:


Kendra Melton

NOTE: I think I would ask JP from The Strangers, for a favor!

Finally, I would place a mannequin in a corner for my guests to hang up their coats. Ooh, and a vintage mirror (painted in the same blue as the chandelier):

Vintage french mirror

All you need to do now is fluff those pillows and slap on those jammies for the partaaaay!


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The Apartment Ep 6 – Work or Wellness?

For this episode, the remaining teams of interior decor reality show, The Apartment had to choose between a study or a wellness room, with the design theme of sustainability. All teams except one chose study. Definite kudos to Glue & Glam for taking on a challenge that no one else did. Which would I have picked? I would have to consult my team mate Paula but I am going to share ideas for both.


So the winner of the challenge were The Opportunist. Let’s take a look at their study:

Opportunist Study

Our mentor judge, Jamie said that the newspaper wall (on the left) is one of the most memorable design features of the entire show.  I do get the concept of bunched up newspaper covering the entire wall like wallpaper. I also liked that they used an old recycled boat turned bench with the recycled wood table. However, I felt that the bench would have served better in a bigger space rather than tucked away in its existing corner.

Now, let’s talk about the other walls, shall we? That combo of pink and that yucky shade of green, complete with that gaudy maroon curtain, left me with one word: HIDEOUS.


For me, a study needs to invoke inspiration and at the same time, clear the mind. To allow the creative juices to flow. It also needs to be bright and airy:


This is great especially if you need to share the study. However, I would so go for this desk instead:

Industrial chic trunk desk

A total conversational piece!

I would pick neutral shades of (but not boring) colours for walls and allow the furnishings to bring out the character of the room. Here is a great example:

Ideal study

A harmonised combination of light and dark colours with a touch of colour. Even Fido likes it.

Need more clever storage ideas? Or perhaps a non conventional work desk? How about sitting a little higher:

Unconventional desk

Ok, to be fair, the room space in The Apartment is not as big and not as bright. So how best to marry design and function and sustainability and yet keep to my own design brief? Perhaps something like this would work:

Doable simple modern study

I’ve still got my preferred colour palette. Its still bright and airy. I’ve got storage and art on my wall. And if you reuse some wooden planks to build these wall shelves, that’s sustainability.


Right. What is Wellness? Is it exercise? or meditation? Maybe massages? Probably all encompassing. I would love to have a mirrored wall so that I can place my mat in front of it and practise pilates and or bust a few moves to Richard Simmon’s Disco Sweat. On the opposite wall, I would have a motivational mantra like so:

Motivation on a wall

Other than an exercise mat, it will also be equipped with a stability ball, resistance band and a nintendo Wii, for endless fun. Throw in a massage chair and meditative music, and I will be a new woman in no time.

The Apartment – Ep 5 Rub A Dub Dub

A quick recap on Ep 4 of The Apartment:

We were freakin’ eliminated!

But that will not stop me from sharing my design ideas for each room as the weeks go by. 😛


My favourite team for this challenge was The Strangers:

I absolutely loved that they did up the glass shower panels with Madonna song lyrics. Genius! What I wasn’t so excited about was that they tied with Glue & Glam for the top spot. Yes, I really liked what G&G did with the top part of the room. The black ceiling and the panels were gorgeous but I was majorly let down by the bamboo stumps all around the tub. They should have been penalised for it.


Right. Bathrooms can be tricky. As head judge, Laurence said, when using the bathroom in the mornings, it should invigorate. And when using it in the evenings, it should be relaxing. The theme given was ZEN and yet it still had to incorporate the overall theme of GLAMOUR. Now, what is zen? The word derives from the Japanese pronunciation of a chinese word, which in turn is derived from a sanskrit word that means ” Meditative State”. Here is Laurence’s take on Zen:

Wait a minute. Is he confusing it with Yin and Yang?


I’ve got a check list for my ideal bathroom. Its probably the only space in the home where I know exactly what I want. It must have:

1) A Claw foot tub

2) Mosaic tiles

3) Bright and airy with windows

4) Shabby chic/rustic furnishings

5) A rubber ducky

I could soak in here for hours!

Given that the remaining teams had to finish TWO bathrooms, it proved too ambitious to hack and retile for some. I would most definitely try and tile the vanity area, to create a “feature”. Wish I could tile a larger surface such as this:

Maybe not quite zen but it is glamourous for sure.

Floor tiles might have also taken up too much time but competition aside, it can create an interesting visual and sometimes nostalgia.

This would look awesome under a claw foot tub

Loving the floor, the raw brick wall and photo gallery


So let’s say we need to keep to the existing fixtures. No major hacking or changes but rather, a few additions to transform the space. I suggest looking at lighting, plants/flowers and little details like candles and pictures in frames, for that personal touch.

A beautiful orchid plant and stylised wall art makes the space elegantly zen. Adding a seashell also brings the outdoors in.

Bouncing light off mirrors create more light. Thus making the room brighter and yet cosier.


So are my ideas zen? I am not sure they quite fall into the traditional zen catergory but I think as long as the space makes you go “Ahh……” or “Om…..”, that’s your zen.

I dare ya!

The Apartment Ep 4 – The Great Outdoors?

I must admit, I do not have green fingers. When we were told we had to do the garden AND the back patio area, I was in disbelief. Two spaces?! Are you kidding me? The joke didn’t stop there. Instead of the usual 15 hours we were normally given, we had to finish this challenge in 10 hours! WTF? For the first time, Paula and I didn’t have a clear plan. We decided to take a space each, me the front yard and she the back patio, and try to come up with something fast. And then off to the nursery for some serious shopping.


I’ve always liked the idea of a sustainable garden, an “edible” garden. However, when we got to the nursery, they didn’t have any herb plants available! So I went for the next best thing – a tropical paradise filled with my favourite tropical plants and flowers like Hibiscus, Heliconia and Frangipani. Found the last two but no luck with the Hibiscus. When Jamie came to help us, he told us that we had to get plants that would help with creating privacy. He picked out this mother of a plant, which really is a baby tree.

Paula and I picked out a few more varieties of flowering plants and lush greens. We also grabbed a bunch of other things, just in case we needed them. What were they, you ask? I have absolutely no idea…..

Good start then eh?


When we got back from shopping, I took a good look around the space I had to transform. I had to make this:

look something like this

Photo from

or this

Photo from

By this point, I had a slight idea of what I wanted to achieve for the garden. I toyed with the possibility of a vertical garden like this:

Photo from

and a water feature like this

Photo by Simon Kenny, from

We couldn’t find the right materials for the water feature so I skipped that. As for the vertical garden, I thought it might take too long so with Paula’s blessings, I decided to get a wooden patio built instead.


I was cleaning a part of the house near the front door when I heard a soft thud. I opened the front door and found a tiny bird unconscious on the floor. It must have tried to fly into the house but hit the wall or glass door instead. I yelled for Paula to come grab the bird (I am too scared of handling injured animals) so that we can put it in a box and see if we can help it. After taking a closer look, I realised its head was in a weird position and Paula reckoned it had broken its’ neck. The poor baby was coming round at this point and probably still suffering from shock. It freaked out slightly and freaked out even more when I tried to feed it water. We then left it in a shaded area to let it rest more and prayed some miracle would happen and it would just fly off. And also, we had a challenge to finish.

We had a hunch that that might be a bad omen but we continued working our butts off and took our one break (unlike what you saw on the edit of the show where it looked like we were not doing a good job with our project management! Grr…) so that we could convene and give each other input  on the result of the spaces so far.


I was very pleased with our front yard. It was understated and I picked a happy canary yellow for the wall to create a invigorating yet relaxing space.

Jamie had approved of our selection of plants and where they were strategically placed.

We were told to make sure we created privacy and we did with our baby tree.

I nearly broke my back trying to dig a big enough hole for this baby tree  AND trying to place it in the hole. I wanted to throw myself into that hole when I was done!

We had beautiful garden lights that made our tree and plants look even more lush than they were. And I believe we were the only ones who had a birdhouse (Wish birdie had waited until we erected it). We went full on mother nature.

As for the back patio, Paula did a really good job on the chosen colour palette for the entire area. From this:

To this:


Judging came and went. I just have a few questions to ask. First of all, what’s “mexican” about Dali’s garden? Secondly, Dali and The Opportunists’ gardens were really quite open so what happened to creating privacy? Which leads me to ask: why were WE penalize for following instructions then? I must admit I agree with Laurence that we probably did over think it. But we wanted to take on their advice from previous challenges and in the process, we let go of being “us”.

Overall, I really wished we all had time to sit down with the judges to get feedback on our designs in detail and discuss our executions. Being part of The Apartment has definitely fanned the passion for more knowledge on interior decorating. I want to take up formal education and an internship! Wish me luck with the decorating fairy…..

I’d like to thank all friends and fans who have shown us love and support. Thank you for believing in us. I will continue in my quest for all that glitters (whatever that means). This won’t be the last you will hear from me or of me. Onward to more adventures! This is Cynthia from Design Divas, until next time, always:


Take care now and don’t be a stranger:




PS: At this juncture, I regret to inform you that the birdie didn’t make it that day. A sad day for us indeed. RIP birdie….

The Apartment Ep 3 – Safari Adventure

We wanted to win. We were determined and we were hungry. We have this challenge in the bag! Or so we hoped.

Well, we had grand ideas for the kids room. We were thinking something themed. Something for 2 young kids, like Paula’s boys, Garrett and Noah. So here are a couple that caught our eye:

Yeah, we were really liking the nautical theme.  And then, we were told we were getting “clients.”

What?! Clients? Actual people we would have to please?! Shooting Shishkabab! I had my fingers and toes crossed for a client who would be specific, know what he/she wants but not fussy. And we were blessed with…..


is a fun and well mannered boy. He knew what kind of room he wanted. Safari, he said. Complete with a jeep. Hmm……

And he was specific about the colours he wanted. Green and brown. We suggested a sunset mural and he thought was a nice idea. A good start, I thought.


We had a gazillion grand ideas in our heads. Among them, we were gonna make a jeep bed and Paula came up with a space saving and yet fun bridge, which could be turned into a table as Alister got older. That was inspired by this:

Alister really liked the “No Girls Allowed” sign so we offered to make one for him. Oh boy, we had a lot on our plate at this point and the shopping list stretched from KL to Singapore. On the list were:

Wall decals

Straw (on thatched roof)


was a pain. We could not find many things we wanted, like round lights for the jeep bed, more grown up looking wall decals, the right blinds…basically the majority on our list. We grabbed whatever we could, anything that was safari-ish and hoped it would all fall into place nicely.


There was so much you didn’t get to see, I wouldn’t know where to start! We faced more uphill battles than any other challenge thus far. We had a big fight (long story) but we were still focused at the tasks at hand. The swing was a major time consuming project which involved a big hole in the (false) ceiling. Making the sign had a few more steps to it than I anticipated. Jamie came and gave us a few suggestions for the rope we bought. Great practical ideas that I wished we had time to incorporate into our design……


Other than our client, Alister’s wishes, we also had to adhere to the brief the judges gave us. The room had to simulate the mind, invoke imagination and be conducive for study and play. In addition, the room had to “grow” with Alister as he become boy to tween. We added details like:

Musical instruments in the Play Area – Perfect for boardgames with friends and a jam session with drums and a rainmaker.

A world map decal.

INSIDER ALERT: Erm….the world map was not to be as accurate as it should have been!

A study sanctuary with a calming shade of green

INSIDER ALERT: Do you recognise the bookshelf? It was the one we had built for the dining and kitchen challenge. Reuse, renew and recycle folks. Sustainability living is the new IN thing!


I was so excited! I wasn’t sure about Paula but I was so sure we would win. I was proud of her mural, of our creation. I was so pleased that even our fight was worth it. But as the judges went through all our designs, nervousness started to set in.

This was us, the last 3 teams to be addressed (Bros United not pictured)

INSIDER ALERT: The last 3 teams meant one team was the winner and one team were to go home. Here, I was ready to hear our name as challenge winners.

Alas, it was not meant to be. When The Opportunists were named the winners, I was filled with so much disappointed and fear. Not only did we not win, we were now up for elimination?!  I was as stressed out as a blind folded knife thrower…….

Then the words, “Bros United, you are safe” reached my ears. I couldn’t think. I was so tense at this point. “Come on, Laurence, just spit it out”, I remember thinking. Just tell us we had to go hang our keys up.

He opened his mouth. And then the kicker. It was a non elimination round! We were still to be in the running to become Asia’s next top decorators! The relief was so intense:

So we fought tooth and nail. And we survived. We know we have to listen to the judges advice for our next challenge and not to get too ahead of ourselves. We know that Alister (and his mom) loved our room, like we did. And we hope you will too.

For more photos and ideas, join me on Pinterest.

Catch Episode 4 – The Garden Challenge on Starworld at 930pm on the 8th of Nov.


The Apartment Ep 2 – Let me entertain you


When we were told we had to decorate our dining room to a special occasion, I immediately thought Christmas. And so did Paula. However, we then soon realised it might be really hard to source for christmasy decor when it was nowhere near the christmas season so we went for second best. Something fun, festive and colourful. And we could still get drunk at!  So we were excited for MARDI GRAS, baby!


Before we could work on decorating for our “party”, we had to figure out what we wanted our dining space to convey. We wanted something bold and yet pleasing to the eye. And this caught our eye and ignited our imagination:

The colour scheme was bold and yet, elegantly simplistic. We were curious to find out if we could pull it off. When we went through our Dulux colour flipbook, I was so enthralled by a particular shade of blue named “Ship at Sea”. Which judge Laurence, affectionately known as LLB, said was “Fashionable”.

See? LLB is always right. Well, most of the time. (Monica, where are you?)

So Paula and I were really thrilled with our colour choices. Next we had to hunt down the perfect chairs and table. And this time we had to pay extra attention to lighting as well. So off to the shops we went. Paula brought my attention to a marble table, to which I wasn’t quite sure about. I preferred a rustic looking table, a wooden top like this one:

I wasn’t too crazy about these chairs so we looked at another combination:

This looked better but it didn’t shout glam or fab to me. Finally, I agreed with Paula on the marble top because it was something I wouldn’t have picked and the table had green chairs around it!

*DID YOU KNOW?* That another team picked the exact same marble table but used different chairs. Can you tell me which team?

Now with such a strong colour for the wall, I wanted a few conversational pieces to tone down the shock factor. We were in this one particular shop where everything we wanted were taken! By other teams, no less! Including the all white deers’ head which Bros United had reserved but luckily for us, there was another similar one. I really wanted two but I guess we had to make do with the one and we added some frames to go along with.

Finally, we moved on to the lights. Paula and I spent so much time searching high and low for suitable lights but most were really tacky or old fashioned. Then I spotted some moroccan lamps and convinced Paula that we should get three of them, even though only 2 were identical. On the spur of the moment, I told her to “trust me, I will make a cool multi level cluster with them”.


When we got home, we started on the dining area first. The painting went smoothly and then it was time to put up the lights before we could place the table and chairs. But to my horror, I found out that the lamps were meant to be standing ones as the bulb was on the bottom and not at the top as I thought! So I gathered the STARK electricians and asked them if there was anything they could do to switch the position of the bulbs. And they said…………


I panicked for a while. I mean this is the focal point of the room! The lighting had to be perfect and then….

INNOVATIVE TIP ALERT: So I asked them if they could instead hang the lamps upside down and extend the electrical wire through the back. And they said yes! Here is the result:

 You like?

Heart attack #2 happened when our deer head and picture frames failed to turn up. That meant our bright blue wall was going to be, just a freaking wall! So I came up with bright idea #2. To create a piece of avant-garde art using malleable wire. I had seen it at some art show and thought, I could just twist and turn wire into something cool and hang it on the wall. Long story short, I spent about 3 hours “creating” a ball of mess which wasn’t even 1/8 of the size it needed to be. 3 hours wasted. Paula is just too sweet for humoring me.

Plan B was an artsy looking bookshelf I designed and I had to get the carpenters to make one for me while I tried to make up for lost time by helping Paula with the rest of the table setting. Speaking of which, we didn’t think it was that hard to look for beads and other purple and green themed decorations. But holy moly, thank goodness Paula brought with her strings of pearls and she was kind enough to let us use them for decoration. We draped the pearls around the candelabras and ran the table runners across the short side, instead of along the long side. The end result was something like this:

Note: This photo was taken after judging so we kept the pearls and the flower/vases. Oh, and the footwear were not there before!

Heart attack #3 happened 5 mins before time was up. Because we were busy putting last minute touches to the kitchen and dining area, we didn’t have time to check on the carpenters but we did notice they were taking way too long. I ran to look for them because we needed that shelf up pronto. To my dismay, it had taken that long because they were building TWO shelves, instead of the ONE I asked for. (Note to self: Brush up on my bl**dy mandarin!) With only minutes to spare, we sprinted to the dining room and as fast as they could, measured, drilled and then before we could say Hole In The Wall, the whistle was blown and we were left with one hole and no shelf. They wouldn’t even let us clean up or clear the shelf away!

Can you spot the tiny white hole in the wall? Click on the photo to enlarge it.


Overall, I was really proud of our spaces, even if we were not able to complete them in time. We were safe once again but at this point, I really wanted to win a challenge. Kudos to The Strangers for deserving the win, by awesome design innovation! And special mention goes out to Bros United. I love their kitchen and dining room especially the signs (Libations and all) in the kitchen. Not forgetting their custom made dining table. Which I want to steal……..

*SIDE NOTE: Is it just me or is Killian kinda sexy when he’s working up a sweat?

I digress.

Don’t forget to watch the 3rd episode of The Apartment-Style Edition every Thursday on Starworld at 930pm. Reruns happen all weekend from Friday through to Sunday.

For more photos and other design inspiration, join me at Pinterest and Facebook.

Thank you so much for your support of me and Paula and together, we are the Design Divas.

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