Home Tour: A Japanese
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Home Tour: A Japanese

May 20, 2023

Warm wood tones and subtle Japanese and Scandinavian decor nuances energise this Singapore home's modern minimalist interior scheme

If the realisation of one's perfect home is the fruit of meticulous planning, this top-floor condominium apartment in Singapore's River Valley neighbourhood would qualify as an unmitigated success. Crafted by KNQ Associates to suit the requirements of a couple with a newborn daughter, the 1,313 sq ft unit underwent a thoughtful redesign to carve out more space; the design firm also gave the abode a contemporary, neutral palette that highlights its use of natural materials beautifully. As the proverbial cherry on top, the apartment's existing layout quirks were played up with design highlights that amplify its overall Japandi (Japanese-meets-Scandinavian) aesthetic, sprinkled with touches of tropical influences in the use of rattan.Don't miss: How to decorate your home according to your horoscope

Stanley Tham, design consultant at KNQ Associates reveals that the owners desired a roomy abode that made practical use of space; this included creating an area for the husband to work at home. More hidden storage space was a must, along with a "clean-cut approach to the design of the apartment", says Tham, explaining this was in keeping with the wife's preference. The designers ended up implementing a minimalist scheme that incorporates subtle Japanese influences for a thoroughly modern interior that practically oozes warmth and an effortless sense of style.

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The owners wanted to retain the commodious living room—which was created when the previous owner tore down the partition walls segregating a third bedroom—yet find space for the husband's work zone. After much discussion on whether they should rebuild the partition walls or install collapsible glass doors to recreate another room for that purpose, the decision was finally made to maintain the existing open-plan layout for the living and dining areas for its spaciousness and to create a more flexible workstation which could be concealed by sliding doors when it wasn't being used. Additional concealed storage space is integrated at the sides, ensuring functionality.

KNQ Associates also enlarged the kitchen to carve out separate dry and wet zones, carefully planning the dimensions and functions of each area right down to where everyday items such as the mops and brooms would be stowed. To keep the spaces as open as possible, sliding pocket glass doors allow the two zones to be partitioned or "merged" to form one large cooking area, depending on the owners’ needs. Quality kitchen equipment from brands such as Miele, Grohe and Kohler add reliability and designer flair.

Tham used his first impressions of the home as a springboard for the overall design concept. "The irregular shape of the rooms inspired me to create a look that is more organic," he says. "Given that most homes in Singapore are very regular, rectangular boxes, I thought this ‘formlessness’ was both interesting and challenging." A deft hand was thus required to ensure an order and symmetry in the layout planning, which included scrutinising the exact sizes of individual furnishings and making adjustments accordingly to strike a balance between form and function. The addition of soft curves and rounded details complements the shape of the rooms, while a light-grey lime-wash finish on the walls ensures a clean, almost Nipponese feel. "The curves and rounded details play to the pre-existing shape of the spaces, resulting in a soft and ethereal ambience when the lights are switched on," says Tham. The TV in the living room is set against a Sangetsu Japanese natural-weave wallcovering from Goodrich; in a backlit alcove located at the end of a corridor leading to the child's bedroom stands a gold-rimmed vase, its tall form bearing dried branches and buds in a striking ikebana-style arrangement.

The generous application of wood and light timber tones injects a homely air into the design scheme. "The owners’ love of simple patterns and Shaker-style detailing also made me integrate some of those elements into the mix, which adds another dimension to an otherwise ‘templated’ look," says Tham. A delightful discovery awaits the curious explorer at every turn, be it the sculptural Haiku bamboo-bladed ceiling fan in the living room, the Kartell Charles Ghost stools at the bar counter, the hexagonal kitchen floor tiles in robust grey tones, or the intricate weave-patterned white wall tiles in a bathroom.

Completed in December 2022, the three-month renovation proved a fulfilling exercise for all involved. Tham was especially pleased with successfully maximising the use of space in the living room and kitchen to meet the clients’ functional requirements, while maintaining a sense of roominess despite the home's compact footprint. "The wife also brought many ideas to the table for discussion throughout the remodelling, and we contributed our own visual and functional solutions or alternatives, which made for a really successful client-designer partnership," he adds.


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KNQ Associates


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