#MyLivingDNA Home Tour with Vivienne Shen

Nowhere is the influence of travel more apparent than in the evolution of our personal style. To be guided by this inner style as we furnish our home results in more meaningful and rewarding interiors than relying on specific "interior themes". The process may require more courage but with a little mindfulness practice, we learn to embrace the highs and lows that are part of any worthwhile endeavour.

Vivienne Shen, a trader whose penchant for beautiful interiors finds expression in her Instagram account @thehomeodyssey gives us a peek of her life in the midst of renovating her Joo Chiat shophouse.

"A mixed style, or no style at all, to me is the best style."

Please introduce yourself.

A commodity trader. A traveller. An interior enthusiast. I love modern designs but love antiques more. I like to collect all sorts of things from everywhere in the world and put them together and call it home. 



What's your morning routine?

I'm not a morning person. I get up late, shower, eat bird nest (a Chinese delicacy) or a simple breakfast, make a fresh lemon tea and take it to my home office and start the day.  


Which spot or item in your home is the most meaningful to you?

The "time capsule" we received on our wedding day. It's a wooden case with things prepared by our family and friends. We have no idea what's inside because the case can only be opened on our 25th wedding anniversary!

How did you come up with interior style ideas for your new space?

I always get a lot of inspiration when I travel, especially to places with history. Every culture and era has its own charm, and when blending them together, it can create a unique chemistry. Wherever I travel to, I always go to a few places - local markets, museums, and antique shops. These are the places you get to see the people and the history, to appreciate a culture deeper.

In my new home, a two and half level shophouse, the first floor is more tuned to a Mediterranean/modern farmhouse style, while the family room is a mid-century modern design, and the master bedroom and bathroom are tropical colonial. A mixed style, or no style at all, to me is the best style. A space is sometimes developed from one particular item or feature I love, and sometimes simply by highlighting the "feeling" I want from the space.

Tell us about the renovation process. What were your highs and lows?

The renovation was planned for 3-4 months but ended up taking us almost 9 months because of the lock-down and a shortage of manpower for a long time. It was stressful when we had to hand over our previous apartment to the new owner, when this house's renovation was hardly half-way. We decided to complete the second floor (where the bedroom is) as much as we could so that we could move in first while continuing the renovation, instead of rushing things out.

The high of the whole renovation process was definitely when the landscaper brought in the two palm trees into the courtyard, and the whole house came to life!

How do you stay mindful throughout the process?

Set the expectation that not everything will go smoothly. Try to communicate as clearly and detailed as possible with the contractors will already save you 80% of detours. And it's important to set a timetable together with the contractor on every trade required for the renovation, and keep close track of the progress.

You've lived outside of Singapore and moved back in. What rituals or lifestyles have you adopted from the countries you've lived in the past?

My husband is Dutch, and we lived together in London for a short while. When we lived in Europe, we always enjoyed staying in a lively neighbourhood with markets, parks, speciality shops, and restaurants within a walking distance and we always enjoyed having long walks in the evenings. After we moved back to Singapore, we realized that the condo lifestyle no longer suits us, therefore we started looking for a new neighbourhood and a house that could offer us that "village" lifestyle. And here we are in Joo Chiat and we are absolutely loving it.


Top 3 reads that inspire you lately.

Athena Calderone's Live Beautiful and Amber Lewis' Made for Living. These are two interior designers who heavily influenced me on my interior style and these two books were my inspiration sources during the design of the shophouse. And The Kite Runner is my all-time favourite book.  

Please share with us a simple breakfast recipe you love.


4 tbsp Greek yoghurt

2 tbsp cruesli cereal

1 tbsp fresh blueberries

1 medium nectarine, sliced in wedges


1. In your everyday bowl, start with Greek yoghurt as your base.

2. Layer with cruesli cereal, then add fresh fruits on top.

3. Enjoy this breakfast bowl with a cup of English Breakfast tea.

"Every culture and era has its own charm, and when blending them together, it can create a unique chemistry."

#MyLivingDNA is a blog series on personal interior style. We visit homes designed by the owners themselves, reflecting their unique identity. Home is our physical and psychological mould, the vessel of our well-being. Through these home tours, we hope to empower you to embrace your own style and express it in your sanctuary. 

Read more #MyLiving DNA home tours here.