August 28, 2018

Bella Koh is the founder of S L O W H O U S E, a full-time mum, and an Instagram superstar. While juggling between her various roles, she also embraces an understated lifestyle—effectively translating her way of life into a business known as #slowliving.

We got Bella to share with us her everyday essentials to get through the daily grind. As one might expect, her penchant for the clean and minimalistic is testament to the #slowlife she advocates. Embracing imperfections and finding beauty in them, her lifestyle is emblematic of the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi.

What are your top 5 items that you can’t live without?

  • Matcha powder from Kyoto
  • Hiroshima chair by Maruni
  • Nodo Horo enamel trays and containers
  • S L O W H O U S E interior scent
  • Marble kitchen island at S L O W H O U S E


How do these items help to improve your lifestyle? 

  • Matcha powder from Kyoto

I tend to drink coffee excessively and feel the effects when I need to conduct workshops or make presentations, as I get more nervous than I usually do. But I still can’t give up coffee, so finding this matcha powder was a great alternative during days when I have to do public speaking. I make an iced soy latte from it, and I simply can’t leave home without it.

  • Hiroshima chair by Maruni

I have an immense love for chairs—in particular, this chair designed by Naoto Fukasawa for Maruni. Besides its extremely high level of comfort, it doubles up as my thinking chair and occasionally, becomes a therapeutic chair too. This piece of furniture is an essential part of my life.

  • Nodo Horo white enamel trays and containers

I have collected these sets of preparation and kitchen wares since I got into cooking. I find that white gives me a clean slate for the different dishes I want to create every day. Besides the beauty of it, it has served me well as some of the most sustainable wares in my kitchen. I probably wouldn’t know what to cook without them.

  • S L O W H O U S E interior scent 

I am sensitive to smells and am particular about what I inhale. Despite my efforts to find the perfect scent for my home, I decided to make one for myself instead. This scent brings calm and balance into my busy life and is pretty much my remedy to living a #slowlife. We used it so often at S L O W H O U S E that everyone started asking me about it, so I have plans to launch the scent soon. We have already sold quite a few bottles to friends and guests. I’m personally addicted to it [laughs].

  • Marble kitchen island at S L O W H O U S E 

The island was designed for me by my husband back in 2010. I don’t think I can live without it. It has become my core, my career, and a huge part of my life is filled with memories of my passion for cooking. When people think of @catslavery, they think of this marble island kitchen. The marble gives it a presence of time and ages beautifully.


Do these items reflect your personality too?

In a way, they do reflect my Capricorn traits. I’m someone who is passionate, loyal and practical. It’s pretty obvious that I prefer functional items.

Is there a story behind any of these items? 

With the Hiroshima chair, my husband and I purchased it from Claska hotel, Tokyo, and had it shipped back to our first home. We definitely have fond memories of it, like how our cats loved competing with us for a seat. Some of them have since passed on due to old age.

Do you carry a book to jot down all your recipes?

I don’t. I used to, but I realised that I work a lot on my phone and I started to put all my recipes in the “Notes” app. I can refer to them easily.

Do you carry any healthy snacks with you?

Yes, I do. My navitas naturals superfood cacao snack bar fills me up on busy mornings and before a yoga class!

Is there a particular item that you carry which helps boost your productivity?

Herbivore Botanicals moonfruit face cream. This magic cream calms me down after a long night. It’s also my go-to when I feel stressed these days. When I feel relaxed and balanced, I naturally think clearer and perform much better.

What’s an item that gives you inspiration?

Any Astier de Villatte item. They are one-of-a-kind and handmade in Paris by Tibetan artisans. These ceramics are crafted from black terracotta using a special technique which leaves deliberate imperfections on the surface and are transformed by a milky white glaze. This artisanal process sums up my philosophy in life. Made with love, and that life is full of imperfections—we have to look beyond to find the beauty in it.

As an advocate of #slowlife, what is your typical day like? How do you balance work, personal well-being and family?

I have been asked this question many times but my answer remains the same. Find your priorities. My priority is always my daughter, then yoga. By basing my decisions around that, I minimise time wasted on trying to figure out what is more important. I believe that by being in control of these situations, we make better choices for ourselves and time can be spent on our well-being. Learning to enjoy work as part of your passion and life is important too.

Why do humans sometimes get emotionally attached to ordinary inanimate objects?

It’s only human to be attached to ordinary inanimate objects, and they probably represent a different meaning to each individual. I call it positive attachment—objects that make us reflect on life or inspire us in many ways.

What are your thoughts on minimalists who buck the norm in a fervently consumerist society by dramatically paring back their possessions? Do you think less is more?

I’m one of them [laughs]. As I grow older, I find more peace within—hence the need to curate the objects in my life, and to declutter. You will find that the regular habit of decluttering helps clear your mind, allowing you to function better. It’s great for our well-being. I still consume, but opt for objects that provide me with more experience.