Roads Less Travelled

Roads Less Travelled
Charmaine & Lester
Freelance videographers Charmaine and Lester’s first home together was an old DHL delivery van in New Zealand, and it was just one of many travels this fun-loving couple has been on. The next chapter in their adventure has been about bringing their nomadic memories from the road back to the three-room space they now call home in Singapore. Their love for camping and quirky art can be seen on the amazing gallery wall of their modular living room where they host sleepovers with loved ones and co-work with clients-turned-friends.
BTO Story Singapore Flat Interior Camper Van Life Organic Home
Charmaine wears our Organic Cotton Women’s Tee in Navy and Elevated Loungewear Women’s Shorts in Cloud.
Lester wears our Organic Cotton Men’s Tee in Midnight and Elevated Loungewear Men’s Boxers in Cloud.
Most of our family and friends know us as the couple who make videos and some may know us as the couple who lived in a van and allowed strangers to sleep in our space.
Singapore BTO Flat 3 room woody sliding door carpentry

“During Circuit Breaker (CB), we also found ourselves selling curry buns from home with our family, as Covid-19 hit us hard as freelancers.”

Singapore Gallery Wall Home Interior Design Artist Framed Art

We had a few thoughts for our home. We were inspired by the backcountry huts of New Zealand where we took refuge when tramping - basic, raw but warm. We wished to have these feelings in our home and these principles defined the material selections.”

BTO Story Flat Singapore Interior Design Gallery Wall Living Room

We also wanted a flexible space with few walls and few built-ins. A home that could be a co-working space in the day and a sleepover Jjimjilbang (Korean Bathhouse) at night.

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We are pretty much an open book, just like our home.

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“We love conversing and bonding with new people, listening to stories and learning a thing or two about a different way of life, a different perspective."

"Building friendships is important to us.”

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Relationships and memories guided all our choices for our home. From hand-me-down plates, pots, cutleries and an oven from our parents, to kick-ass local brands and artists that deserve our support and recognition.

We used to host couch surfers at my parents’ home. So over the years we collected local artworks to display, hoping to introduce Singapore through the works of these talented artists.

Singapore Local Artist Gallery Wall Interior Design Collector Collection

“Our friend Justin got us this post-it note poster by Joji Jacob in 2012. It was a project titled ‘Things We Forget’, where he left inspirational sticky notes in a public place every day. The one that says ‘Don’t be square’ is one of Lester’s favourites."

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“Some of the memorabilia we picked up during our travels now share a space with these local artists’ works. If it was worth a space in our tiny backpack, it deserved a space on our wall.”

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“We have a single copy of our wedding photo, just like our grandparents’ generation. We took it in a traditional photo studio in Beijing en route to a marathon that we signed up for in North Korea. There were only two main events where North Korea opened its borders to international tourists - the mass games and the marathon. We were trying to lose weight for our wedding and training for the run along with visiting the DPRK sounded like fun.“

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During the Pyongyang Marathon, we felt like we were running in a Wes Anderson film set. Complementary pastel coloured buildings filled the walls of the streets. A full house stadium and a never-ending stretch of supporters lined the race route cheering us on like Olympians. It was picture perfect.”

“This frame is of a special significance to Charmaine - it’s an assorted photo collection of her grandma in different moments of her life. Grandma was born in Singapore but went back to China at age 13 to help fight the war so she could get an education in exchange. She was a very sharp lady even till the day she passed at age 99.”

BTO Story Singapore Flat Interior Design Home Decor Inspiration Gallery Wall

The Ringer’s our favourite feature of the home. It’s a game we enjoyed in a farmhouse in New Zealand. There was no wifi, no reception and it kept us entertained all night.

We wanted our friends and families to be able to enjoy a simple game like this whenever they come over.

BTO Story 3 Room Flat Singapore Interior Inspiration Creative Gallery Wall

The yellow and red metal doors in our home are particularly meaningful for us. It’s a tribute to our first home on wheels, the old DHL camper van we lived and traveled in for six months in New Zealand.

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“We didn’t even own a car in Singapore, but we jumped straight into our #vanlife. In hindsight, it was quite crazy. We found our van on Facebook marketplace, and we bought it a day after viewing it.”

Singapore Couple Van Life New Zealand Wedding Honeymoon

“We have reminders everywhere of that time together - our camping chairs that we bought from Kathmandu when in New Zealand because there was no space to sit in the van, and a rock collection that we started while on the road. Just little pieces of the places we’ve been.”

Rock Collection Camper Van Life Travel Tramping New Zealand Singapore

We look out for good deals on Carousell, and that’s where we got our sofas from. We consider it a bonus when we get to call these sellers our friends after.

BTO Story Singapore Flat Apartment Decor Interior Design Inspiration Gallery Wall Living Room

“The chairs around our work/dining table were all gifted by various groups of people who are dear to us. We liked the idea that they would all have a place in our home so we shamelessly asked for chairs as housewarming gifts.”

Dining Table Chair Assortment Mismatch Coworking Living Space Ideas

“Our uncle @davidtheclockmaker and his son @theclockmakerson operate one of the last remaining antique clock shops in Singapore that restores old time pieces. We knew we had to have one from them when we got our own place. This Seiko clock we got is a ship's slave clock, it has since been retrofitted into a quartz clock that runs independently on battery. The muted colour and typography on the clock face stood out to us amongst the many old grandfather clocks in the shop.”

Vintage Retro Clock Singapore BTO Apartment Flat Antique Time Piece

“We enjoy snuggling in bed and snoozing as much as we can in the morning. Then our morning ritual is to convince each other why he/she should wake up first to get ready. We’ll eventually rush to start the day with a nice warm shower, and quickly make our bed presentable because our clients/co-workers will be arriving in five minutes.”

Organic Cotton Bed Sheets Ethical Singapore Sustainable Jersey Cosy LuxuryCharmaine and Lester’s bed is dressed in a Jersey White Duvet Cover, Pillow Case Pair and Bolster Case along with a Jersey Pebble Fitted Sheet and Pillow Case Pair.

“We first ordered SOJAO bedsheets to gift our cousin and were pleasantly impressed by the whole branding and unboxing experience. So it was a joy decking up our tilam (mattress) when we received our own SOJAO sheets.”

“Lester prefers sleeping with the aircon and I prefer the fan. It's a nightly dilemma. The sheets have now kept us comfortable in either situation for a good night.”

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There’s no real distinction between work, rest and play for us. As our work can be fun too and play can translate into work."

BTO Story Singapore Flat Apartment Interior Design Ideas Inspiration Organic Cotton

We’re looking forward to doing long travels again in the near future. In the meantime, more cycling and more sleepovers perhaps.

BTO Story Singapore Flat Apartment Interior Gallery Wall Ideas Inspiration Woody

Home is where we invite people into our lives.

You can revisit Lester and Charmaine’s #vanlife adventures here.

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