The Small/Cool Contest Creativity Winner’s Home Has Major Color Inspo

published Jul 27, 2023
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"First impressions say a lot about me — no TV, lots of books and vintage finds from my travels, feminine but not frou-frou," Gail wrote in her entry. "I love the cozy cocoon effect of the dark blue ceiling and spend all my daylight hours here. The Around Campus wallpaper from Chasing Paper is also perfect for a reading space!"

Gail Aw’s apartment in Singapore may only be 646 square feet, but it is overflowing with color and originality. “In general, [my home] is very much driven by my love for vintage and anything old,” says Gail. “A lot of homes in Singapore are white and beige and shades of wood. My home is very different from that. I basically wanted something very warm and inviting… I think spaces should reflect their owners’ stories and personalities.”

When you enter her home (through a pale pink tour inspired by a 2019 Apartment Therapy house tour!), you’re greeted by a mint-colored swing that’s “a great conversation starter,” says Gail. In the living room, the same deep blue on the walls extends onto the ceiling, accented by a green velvet sofa and mustard chairs. (Gail calls dark peacock blue and mustard yellow her favorite color combination.) Head into the kitchen for a blue and green vision inspired by deVOL’s Victorian rectory and Whistler’s “The Peacock Room,” which Gail visited during her time studying in the U.S. “I thought, ‘I would love to translate that kind of opulence into my humble public housing apartment,’” she explains.

"The kitchen was inspired by Whistler's 'The Peacock Room' and deVOL's Victorian rectory," Gail explained in her entry. "The pheasant motif barstools from Walmart (!) are my jokey nod to the peacocks, and the chandelier brings glam to a domestic spot. The glazed green breeze blocks, common in old buildings here, link east to west."

Peep the full entry yourself, and it’s no wonder: Gail is the Creativity Category Winner of the 2023 Small/Cool Contest!

For our 2023 contest, we brought together a judging panel including Apartment Therapy Media’s founder and CEO, Maxwell Ryan; Emmy-nominated TV host and design expert Bobby Berk, of “Queer Eye” fame, whose debut book, “Right at Home: How Good Design Is Good for the Mind,” releases Sep. 12, 2023; and therapist-turned-interior-designer Anita Yokota, author of the best-selling book, “HOME THERAPY,” who uses her Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy (LMFT) as inspiration for her work in Southern California. We asked them to pick four winners in the categories of Vibe, Cleverness, and Creativity, and Functionality. Each of the category winners will take home $250.

"This angle gives a good sense of my aesthetics: The pink door speaks to my love of whimsy, and the reproduction vintage window grilles and louvres are a throwback to first-generation Singaporean public housing. The sideboard is where I stash my bar, and I love the brass accent," Gail wrote.

In the Creativity category, our judges looked for the space teeming with personality.

During the judges’ deliberation, Berk noted Gail’s strong use of paint. “I really like her space,” he said. Ryan added that you can define creativity in a lot of ways, but in Gail’s case, he pointed to “the specific use of color and the way it has the most impact throughout the apartment.” He said he thought this apartment should win its category “because it shows creativity in every room. Every room is different, but there’s a certain amount of restraint so that the space feels very livable.” Yokota tied it all together: “I felt her creativity through her spaces,” she said.

"The bathroom showcases both my inner child and love for the '50s," Gail wrote in her entry. "It started when I found that delightful tile and pulled the design around it. I was thrilled to find vintage Lux and toilet paper ads with the exact same shades on Etsy, and the blue grout mimics graph paper to go with the nursery colors."

Gail says she can’t believe she won the Creativity category. Upon getting the news, she says, “I started internally shrieking.”

For anyone who’s also hoping to infuse their home with creativity, Gail recommends first doing a ton of looking in order to figure out what you truly love — “actively seeking out new ideas or objects through shopping or reading, learning to articulate why something is or isn’t quite you and rejecting the latter until you have a clearer sense of self, and finally taking all the gathered reference points and forging something new and deeply personal from them,” she says. “For me, acknowledging and recognizing where one’s influences come from is a form of humility, and it gives nearly everything I put in my home a deliberateness and backstory.”

"The bedroom design started when I fell for this wallpaper from Drew Barrymore's Flower Home series, and props to my interior design collaborator Winnie [Chua formerly of Voila Design] for suggesting this color scheme to go with it," Gail wrote. "The leafy green is so cheery and gives the flat a bit of a summery, holiday bungalow vibe."

This year, our readers also voted for one grand prize winner — who will win $1,000 — out of 71 entries that made it to a public voting round. Want to see who it is? Check out the grand prize winner’s home here.

Credit: Gail Aw
"Enjoy the bird's eye view of my tiny and much-loved space!" Gail wrote. "I can't draw so I [worked] for hours trying to master Sketchup, and the drawing of the swing was a gift from a former student."

Congrats to Gail and all of our winners!