It was serendipity that Sandy Huang found the sofa of her dreams. She had been searching for her dream sofa for three weeks and was about to buy whatever could fit her home when she saw a small wooden sign stuck in a grass verge while walking around the Eunos area.
It was a sign by Blafink, a local furniture shop specialising in custom upholstered sofas and bed frames, that has a showroom in the vicinity.
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“When I walked into the showroom and saw the colourful prints by Kitty McCall, I was immediately sold,” says the 37-year-old, referring to the United Kingdom-based graphic designer who supplies fabric to Blafink.
Sandy and her husband, Nicholas Koh, 39, had just moved into their five-room Housing Board flat in Woodlands in mid-2016. They were looking for a standout sofa to be the focal point of their home’s eclectic theme.
She ended up picking a “crazy” print – bold geometric shapes in striking colours against a subtle animal print – for the sofa frame with the help of her interior designer. She also requested a sofa that is a metre in depth, so that she can “sit cross-legged on it in front of the TV”.
Two years on, her sofa, which she paid more than $4,200 for, is still garnering attention from guests. “Everyone who comes to our place is always very ‘wowed’. Even if he has been here before, he’ll ask if I changed the colour or did something to it. It’s a crazy print, but no one seems to really remember the exact design,” says Sandy, who works as the head of operations at a technology company.
Sandy is not alone in her search for unique furniture pieces. Furniture stores say more home owners are on the hunt for one-off pieces and some have turned to customising their furniture to fulfil that desire.
Why Custom-Made Furniture?
1. It’s more exclusive and significant
“When you customise furniture, you’re receiving exactly what you want. It’s not something you settle for or buy on impulse. There’s some emotional tie involved,” says Ashley Choo, 36, co-owner of Blafink.
2. It lasts longer
“There is also a certain longevity to it. Chances are, because it’s built for you, you’ll use it for a longer time versus something you bought off the shelf and can just sell when you’re sick of it.”
3. It’s practical
New home owners tend to go for the same wood colour and finish across different pieces of furniture in their living room for a cohesive look, says Zee Tan, 28, creative lead of local furniture store etch&bolts. “It can be difficult to get the same colour and finish if you purchase pieces from separate stores, so some home owners come to us to custom-make a set,” says Ms Tan.
Founder of Your Furniture, 41-year-old Gregory Torreguitart, says small apartment sizes in Singapore also increase the need to custom-fit furniture into tight spaces. He also gets requests from expatriates who ship their mattresses to Singapore from overseas, but cannot find a suitable bed frame for them.
“It’s difficult to find bed frames for mattresses that are not standard Singapore sizes, so customising one for the mattress is the way to go,” says the Frenchman, who has lived in Singapore for five years.
How Expensive Is It?
Furniture companies say the cost of customisation depends on the extent of work, but it may not necessarily break the bank.
Gregory’s prices are 20 to 50 per cent cheaper than big-brand furniture stores that customise products of the same quality because there is no middleman in the process. Ashley from Blafink says her sofas are priced similarly to other mid-to high-end furniture shops that sell ready-made pieces.
But they note that prices can go up depending on the complexity of the design and the choice of materials.
“A custom piece reflects your character. You’re paying for the workmanship as well as the small details,” says Morgan Yeo, 30, owner of Roger&Sons. “To us, our bespoke furniture is furniture that will last a lifetime. We hope they will eventually become heirloom pieces that can be passed down for generations”.
Here are four places in Singapore that offer bespoke furniture: