A guide to create a Modern Classical home: Casa Qi Explored

1.    Casa Qi 

Greetings, fellow home design aficionados! If you had been following the news on celebrities home, you would have heard about “Casa Qi”, the modern classical/European style home designed by yours truly, the Designerd.  In the 2 part video that we did with the celebrity couple, I spoke of being inspired by black and white houses, the use of white and the wainscoting effect used on the carpentry. In this candid expose, I am going to reveal how to easily create the same kind of look for your home in a few easy steps. 

Celeb Home Reveal! - Project Diary Ep01 Joanne and Qi's Modern and Classical home!

Celeb Home Reveal - Project Diary Ep02 Joanne and Qi's Modern Classical home!

2.    Modern Classical defined

If you're the kind of person who dreams of living in a home that screams elegance, sophistication, and style, you're in the right place. Today, we're taking you on a whimsical journey through Joanne Peh and Qi Yuwu’s home design and showing you how to achieve that modern classical look that has gotten a fair bit of attention from the press. 


Screen captures taken from 8 daysAsiaone and CNA Lifestyle articles on Casa Qi!

Step 1: The Power of Neutrals

If you've seen the video of the home tour of the celeb couple’s home, you'll know that it is dressed in neutrals. Their home bursts with shades of cream, beige, and white, creating a serene and calming environment. This creamy white acts as a base colour and is found predominantly on the walls as well as the carpentry in the living hall, the kid’s play area and the dining area. Now, you might be thinking, "But neutrals are boring!" 

The generous use of white and dressing the carpentry with timber moulds to create the “wainscot” look.

Not so, dear reader. Neutrals are the essential base upon which modern classical design is built. They provide a blank canvas that allows the architecture and furniture to take center stage. To add details to the creamy white, we added wood mouldings to the carpentry doors, added high skirts (as high as 150mm) and cornices. The objective is to mimic a “wainscoting” effect. Now, even if “wainscoting” sounds foreign, it is very likely that you have seen wood panelling on walls in western shows like, “The Crown” and “Pride & Prejudice (2005)”. 


Scene from movie, Pride and Prejudice (2005), notice the wainscot details and the fireplace as the focal point of the space.(Image source: Galerie Magazine)


The traditional wainscot elements by Laurel Home. (Image Source: LaptrinhX)

For centuries, builders in the west, added wainscotting as panels on walls to protect it from chair and table knocks and damage. It was originally meant to deal with scuff marks, but later evolved to become an aesthetic feature. So, remember to start with the base colour of white and beige, add details like moulds to create a wainscot effect. If budget is an issue, you can always use different paints and masking tapes to create the faux wainscot effect. 


Creating a faux wainscot effect using just different paints and masking them to create the segregation of colours. (Image Source: Decorilla)

Step 2: Classical Furnishings with a Twist


The central fireplace. Notice the symmetry in the forms.

In classical design, symmetry is important and a lot of times, the classical space has a focal point like a fireplace in western homes. In Joanne and Qi’s home, we created a “fireplace” of sorts complete with mantlepiece and shelving for hanging Christmas stockings! We definitely have no use of a real fireplace in sunny Singapore and as such, the “fireplace” is actually a wall feature that houses their TV. Sticking with the symmetry route, the wall feature is perfectly balance. 


Screen shot from the home reveal video, “Project Diary part 1” showcasing the final “fireplace” look.

Now where is the modern twist in this, you may ask? We used contemporary furniture pieces and had them arranged in an asymmetrical way. As you can see from the picture, it is not your traditional 3 + 1 +1 sofa arrangement. What the couple chose from the Christopher Guy series of furniture are individual statement pieces, that not only exudes character but lends a modern touch to the styling. This breaks the monotony of the neutral palette and draws you into the space. Now if you want to bring this look to your own home, the key here is to marry the old with the new. Keep an eye out for pieces that combine classical shapes and designs with modern materials and textures. 

Step 3: Architectural Elements

Screen shot from the home reveal video, “Project Diary part 1” showcasing the use of wainscot effect on the cabinetry doors and as well as the main door’s details. Large mirror with thick frame adorns a side of the wall.  

No modern classical home would be complete without some stunning architectural elements. Joanne and Qi’s home features beautiful mouldings, large windows, and grand doorways. All their wooden doors are dressed in timber moulds, to connect with the wainscot effect. To make them grander looking, another layer of framing, known as “architrave ”, are added to give the doors a more pronounced stature. These seemingly small features actually add a lot depth and character to the home, turning an otherwise plain space into something truly spectacular. If you're not in the position to renovate yet but still want this look, don't fret. You can achieve a similar effect with by getting larger thick framed mirrors or artworks to dress the space up. All the thick framing combined with the wainscoting effect will help create that luxurious classical look. 

Step 4: Lighting Matters 


Layered lighting guide(Image source: Decor Outdoor)

In the couple’s home, lighting is used to dramatic effect. Chandeliers, floor lamps, and table lamps all play a role in creating a warm, inviting atmosphere. The traditional classical look is of course crystal pendant chandeliers, but who has time to do all that cleaning on the lamp. So look for forms that are classical, like curls and twists combined with a modern form. This will help create the modern classical look. Remember to layer your lights. Do not make the mistake of only installing lights at the ceiling. Layering of lights refers to having lightings in different heights (layers) of the space. For example, from ceiling lights to pendant lamps, to table lamps/floor lamps to furniture cove lights. European homes do not pepper their ceilings with downlight fixtures. It is unsightly and lacks sophistry. The lighting in your space can make or break a room, so choose your fixtures carefully. opt for pieces that cast a warm, soft light and avoid harsh, cold light sources. 

3.    Give It A Go!

Creating a modern classical home à la Casa Qi isn't about copying their style piece by piece. It's about understanding the principles behind their design choices and integrating them into your own home. Remember, the ultimate goal is to create a home that feels comfortable and reflects your personal style. So, go forth and design with confidence, and soon you'll be living in your very own modern classical masterpiece!

Posted on 18th August 2023

Written by Astley Ng – the designerd

SIXIDES Editorial Team


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