Treasured Collectibles for the Home

By : Rosita Ithnain
08 January 2013

I love vintage furniture, but living in an HDB flat does not allow me to indulge in collecting large items of old furniture – specifically those made of teak wood. So, right from the start, my husband and I decided to go for smaller collectibles instead of furniture. We decided that any collectible that we acquired should be able to fit into our flat comfortably.


In the earlier years of our marriage, we used to scour around Singapore for old or antique items. We were frequent visitors of an antique shop whose unique motto is “We buy junk and sell antiques. Some fools buy and some fools sell”! Looking at all the items I have amassed in the home, I guess my husband and I are the fools that bought – happily of course!


Here are two of the treasured items we have amassed over the years.


Peranakan Tiles

Things that interested us back then were old ‘Peranakan’ tiles – mind you, they are original pieces removed from many a Peranakan home when these were demolished, and some are still in good condition! We used some of these tiles as decorative items for our coffee tables, shelves and jewellery boxes. (My husband is quite the handy man and he loves the challenge of making things – so yes, he made these tables, shelves and jewellery boxes for me.  )


These tiles are beautiful aren’t they? Besides these, other tiles were framed with teak wood and used to decorate the walls of my HDB flat. They come in different motifs – some flowers, some with abstract designs, and still others depicting colourful fruits.


Beautiful tiles adorn my coffee tables

The jewellery boxes that my husband made for me

he first attempt at making a four-tiled shelf

Some of the tiles that adorn my walls

Old Fans

After the ‘Peranakan tile’ phase of our lives, we next went on to collect old fans.


We chanced upon another antique shop at Serangoon Road one day and found that the shop owner was a collector of old fans. These were easily 30 – 40 years old and some even older still. The fans come from the US and England and have been restored. And the best part? They are in good working condition! I’m pretty sure you can’t find fans like this today anymore. And if there’s such a thing as love at first sight, we really fell in love with the fans the moment we saw his collection.


Our collection has grown over the years and we now have about nine large fans and five small ones. That’s probably one too many for an HDB flat, isn’t it!  But they are my precious fans – there is one fan which is my all-time favourite – the body is made of Bakelite and the blades are fashioned of ribbons. Haven’t seen anything like it and I’m pleased to be the proud owner.


Some pieces from my collection

One of my favourite fans!

You may be thinking of doing up your own HDB home with a few vintage treasures. Here are some simple tips on snagging that coveted piece of collectible. But be warned! Once you start, you may find it hard to stop! But that’s the fun with treasure-hunting isn’t it? 


Tips on snagging your own collectible treasures

Be Patient
You may not always find ‘the’ item that you are looking for on first look. To discover gems in the treasure trove of junks, you must be patient and have an eye to pick out things.


Do Your Research
It’s useful to read up more about the items you’re looking for so you know what to look out for – this will help you differentiate the real stuff from reproductions. For example, there are many fans made to look like the old stuff, so be sure you are going for the real deal!


Stay Calm
It’s always good to remain calm when you see something that you really love – so that you have the bargaining power to get a really good price for the item!


Good luck to you and happy hunting! Have any treasured décor items in your own HDB home?


Do tell us at!
(And if you’re still interested in finding out more? We have this story on 
getting the best from antique furniture for you!)






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