Ever wondered what sustainable living in Singapore looks like? Looking for home inspiration to follow on Instagram? Look no further. In this feature, we speak to the husband-and-wife team behind @ourseaofgreen on Instagram to get all the deets.
Browse through @ourseaofgreen on Instagram, and you’ll understand why we picked them as our next feature for Real Places. The account is managed by husband-and-wife team Marvin and Lingyi, and features pictures of their quaint home in Telok Blangah, Singapore. Stepping into their home felt like entering a different realm—away from the hustle and bustle of the city to a slow, dreamy, and relaxing atmosphere.
In this story, we cover all the bases with them: from their passion for sustainable living and plants, to helpful tips on interior styling.
Tell us a bit about yourselves and your space.
Lingyi: Marvin and I are both working in the advertising industry. Given the nature of our jobs, we both pitch into the overall vision of our home. My role is putting out the initial brief by drawing inspiration from everywhere, from films to Instagram and Pinterest. As for Marvin, he has a real eye for detail—every detail that you see in our home is very much thought through—and that has served us well in establishing and realising our vision. We’re a good team!
Marvin: We have been living in this space for a year now. We chose this area because of the beautiful, green backdrop of Telok Blangah Hill. Both Lingyi and I stayed near nature reserves growing up, so it felt natural that we should find our place near one.
Why is sustainable living so important to both of you?
Lingyi: I’ve always been exposed to the idea of doing our part for the environment from a young age. My mom has always been very diligent about that—one of the things I remember the most growing up is that she would collect all the plastic containers and reuse them. My mom also made it a point to educate us about the impact of our actions on the environment and how we should reduce, reuse and recycle. It’s something that stuck with me, even till now.
Marvin: I think all of us have a sense of how our actions impact the environment, but sadly, most of us don’t care. I became more conscious of what I use after having our own space. Cleaning up after our home made me notice the sheer amount of waste a household can generate. It’s hard to continue ignoring this truth when you are confronted with the facts every day.
Personally, I became more conscious of what I use after having our own space. Cleaning up after our home made me notice the sheer amount of waste a household can generate.
Just some time back, I read that humans are currently using the Earth’s resources 1.75 times faster than our planet's ecosystems can regenerate. It’s quite crazy if you think about it. We can keep using whatever we have, but it’s a race against the clock.
Why do you think sustainable living is not picking up in Singapore?
Lingyi: Everyone probably already knows that all our actions contribute to climate change, but it’s an easy problem to ignore when it is not visible. Also, striving to live with minimum waste and carbon footprint is neither convenient nor cheap in Singapore. Committing to this lifestyle requires a significant change in how we live our lives, and frankly, most people aren’t ready to make that change. Personally, I feel that more can be done to make sustainable living more accessible to everyone, whether it be in making it more convenient or affordable.
Striving to live with minimum waste and carbon footprint is neither convenient nor cheap in Singapore. Committing to this lifestyle requires a significant change in how we live our lives.
What are some sustainable practices that you do at home?
Lingyi: For us, a lot of it happens in the kitchen. Instead of consuming meat, we try to eat more vegetables and plant-based substitutes to reduce our carbon footprint. For our grocery runs, we typically bring our own bags; and instead of going to supermarkets where they wrap everything in plastic, we try to go to Tiong Bahru market where we pack the fresh produce directly into our bags. Even when we have bubble tea, we also bring our own cups and straws!
Composting our food waste creates fertilisers that we can feed our plants with. Through this, we want to create an ecosystem in our household that would be able to sustain our plant obsession while minimising the waste we create.
Marvin: We also segregate our waste and compost organic matter. Composting makes a lot of sense for us because we cook regularly and have a lot of plants (more than 40!). Composting our food waste creates fertilisers that we can feed our plants with. Through this, we want to create an ecosystem in our household that would be able to sustain our plant obsession while minimising the waste we create.
Where does your love for plants come from?
Lingyi: It started with us just wanting a slice of our green view to spill into our home. We didn’t imagine having these many plants, but it slowly got to a point where we were constantly identifying new plants for different parts of our home. It’s a love that spiralled out of control and now, our mindset is 'gotta-collect-them-all'!
Marvin: I love plants because I find taking care of them therapeutic. As a creative, I do a lot of brainstorming so work can be very draining mentally. Taking care of my plants allows me to shut off and rest my mind. It’s my little piece of quiet, and I enjoy the process. It’s also a bonus that the result of your care also really speaks for itself—for example, when you see a new leaf unfurl or witness your plant’s transformation over a couple of months, you know that you are doing something right.
When you see a new leaf unfurl or witness your plant’s transformation over a couple of months, you know that you are doing something right.
When choosing new plants for your home, do you plan and have a specific plant in mind, or is your choice based on emotional impulse?
Marvin: We always try to plan and match the right plants to the conditions we have at home. But sometimes we do get carried away and make those impulse buys—which is always risky because it can make for an expensive lesson…
We always try to plan and match the right plants to the conditions we have at home.
But luckily there are resources available when we make these not-so-wise decisions. For example, there’s a plant clinic at the Gardener’s Day Out at HortPark, Singapore which happens every third Saturday of the month. There are experts manning the booth who can diagnose the issues that you’re facing and give you tips on how to help your plants get better—we’ve learnt a lot from them!
What is the one interior styling tip that both of you made sure to abide by when styling your home?
Lingyi: We designed our space to grow together with us. So as much as possible, we stuck to furnishing which we believe is timeless. A question we always ask before buying anything is, “Will we still love it after 10 years, 20 years or even 50 years?” If the answer is yes, then we know that these are the pieces that will stay with us even when we move to another place in the future.
Marvin: We were also clear on the vision of our home. For us, the biggest priority is to make it a relaxing, comfortable place to come back to after a long day. A great example is lighting – with our vision in mind, we decided to use only warm lights and it has worked really well for us. The result is a cosy and relaxing ambience at night—so much so that our friends often tell us that they feel like taking a nap when they come over. (Whether that’s a good or bad thing, you be the judge!)
A question we always ask before buying anything is, “Will we still love it after 10 years, 20 years or even 50 years?”
One of the biggest takeaways from our chat with Marvin and Lingyi is that there’s so much more that we can do to play our part for this planet we live on—whether it be in the little things such as bringing our own tumblers, straws or bags to the bigger things such as composting or waste segregation. Our immediate next step at Martin & Mango? Hunting down a compost bin!
Are you inspired too? For more inspiration on home-styling, sustainable living and plants, follow Marvin and Lingyi’s journey at @ourseaofgreen.