The Chic Apartment

Living room full of life

The living room (above) has a feature wall that comprises oak panelling against a cement screed wall. The master bedroom (left) features a walk-in wardrobe behind the bed. Mr Jake Chia and Ms Astee Lim (right) created a nursery (left) with glass pane
Mr Jake Chia and Ms Astee Lim created a nursery (above) with glass panels so that people can keep an eye on the children.PHOTO: TIFFANY GOH FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
The living room (above) has a feature wall that comprises oak panelling against a cement screed wall. The master bedroom (left) features a walk-in wardrobe behind the bed. Mr Jake Chia and Ms Astee Lim (right) created a nursery (left) with glass pane
The living room has a feature wall that comprises oak panelling against a cement screed wall.PHOTO: TIFFANY GOH FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
The living room (above) has a feature wall that comprises oak panelling against a cement screed wall. The master bedroom (left) features a walk-in wardrobe behind the bed. Mr Jake Chia and Ms Astee Lim (right) created a nursery (left) with glass pane
The master bedroom features a walk-in wardrobe behind the bed.PHOTO: TIFFANY GOH FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
The living room (above) has a feature wall that comprises oak panelling against a cement screed wall. The master bedroom (left) features a walk-in wardrobe behind the bed. Mr Jake Chia and Ms Astee Lim (right) created a nursery (left) with glass pane
Mr Jake Chia and Ms Astee LimPHOTO: TIFFANY GOH FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Mr Jake Chia and Ms Astee Lim put the most effort and thought into designing their living room because they like hosting parties at home

In anticipation of their future children, married couple Jake Chia and Astee Lim designed a unique nursery in their marital home - one with walls made of glass panels.

The feature allows anyone in their living room to keep an eye on children in the nursery, says Mr Chia, 33, a business owner.

"The kids can have their own space in the room while adults can mingle in the living area," he says, adding that blinds can be installed after the children reach a certain age.

The couple, who have been married for two years, have an interest in home design, which took hold when they helped with the interior design of Mr Chia's parents' apartment six years ago.

"The project made me think about usability and functionality," says Mr Chia.

Similarly, signs of the couple's pragmatism are peppered all over their Built-to-Order five-room HDB flat in Punggol.

I suppose it reflects us as a hospitable couple - during Chinese New Year, we hosted more than 30 guests.

MS ASTEE LIM on the living room, which she and her husband put the most effort into designing

The kitchen counter was raised to 90cm - from the standard height of 85cm for most kitchen counters in Singapore - as this is a "more comfortable" height for food preparation, says Ms Lim.

At 1.65m tall, she finds the current 90cm-high counter more "ergonomic" for her.

Also, the base of the counter was raised by 15cm so that they would be able to stand closer to the kitchen worktop, says Ms Lim, 31.

She explains: "For a normal kitchen base, you would have to bend over or bend your toes in order to stand closer. Also, this creates a floating effect visually."

The couple also installed a kitchen storage system comprising pull-out shelves with open sides so that they will do not have to grope for items in enclosed cabinets.

The kitchen wall is a chic cement screed with an industrial look as Ms Lim, an accountant, did not like the original white wall tiles.

They did not appeal to her aesthetically and she also felt that white wall tiles with white grouting would be hard to maintain.

To make the most of the space in the 1,200 sq ft flat, the living area - with a sofa and coffee table - sits on a parquet platform that visually separates the living room from the dining area.

A smaller bedroom was converted into a walk-in wardrobe for more wardrobe space.

The old bathroom doors, which swung inwards into the cramped interior, were replaced with barn-style sliding doors.

The home was designed by the couple and they engaged contractors to do the work.

It took two months to complete and cost $55,000, excluding furnishings. They moved into their flat last December.

The Chias considered hiring an interior designer, but decided against it after consulting a few because "they did not offer any fresh ideas", says Mr Chia.

"We also more or less knew what we wanted," he adds, describing his home as versatile and modern Scandinavian, yet timeless.

There are grey and wood accents such as the long oak-panelled fixture mounted on the cement screed wall in the living room, which was inspired by a picture Ms Lim saw on content-sharing website Pinterest.

She wanted something similar as she felt it matched the wall. The television cables are hidden neatly behind it.

The muted colour scheme of grey, white and brown in the living room is accented with pops of colour on some furnishings - a coffee table with a yellow base; patterned red, white and green cushions; and a multi-coloured honeycomb-patterned carpet.

There are also black track lights, purchased from online shopping site Taobao.

The living room is the couple's favourite place in the flat, as it is where they put in the most thought and effort in design.

Ms Lim says: "I suppose it reflects us as a hospitable couple - during Chinese New Year, we hosted more than 30 guests."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 19, 2016, with the headline 'Living room full of life'. Print Edition | Subscribe