The Chic Home: Architect's BTO flat blends Brutalist edge with Scandi chic

The living room, the kitchen and dining and study areas blend seamlessly and feel like one large communal space. PHOTO: PHYLLICIA WANG
The ceilings and walls’ cement-textured paint carries through the brutalist theme. PHOTO: PHYLLICIA WANG

SINGAPORE - Two years before renovations began for the 1,215 sq ft, five-room Build-To-Order Housing Board flat of architect Kelvin Wang and his wife Jocelyn Neo, the design wheels were already in motion.

He says: "The design centres on the use of grey concrete, brown wood textures and the colour black - a neutral palette that's never out of fashion. We plan to live here for at least the next 10 years, so the design needs to reflect our aspirations, suit our lifestyles and stand the test of time."

As fans of Brutalist architecture, the couple in their late 30s wanted to incorporate its monolithic and volumetric articulation, as well as the raw textures and patina, plus the Japanese wabi-sabi philosophy of embracing imperfections.

However, they also acknowledged that the style would not be entirely appropriate for their home in Bedok South Road. To mitigate the harshness of the Brutalist style, they incorporated Scandinavian elements such as wood and the colour green.

Almost all of the apartment was completely gutted. Other than the walls around the two bathrooms, all the other internal walls were either demolished or realigned.

The floors were retiled or overlaid, the lighting and electrical layout was entirely reconfigured, and drop ceilings were introduced in some areas.

The heart of the home is the dining and kitchen area, as Ms Neo, who works in the financial industry, is a foodie. "She cooks, she orders delivery food and she snacks. When she eats, I eat as well," says Mr Wang.

That is how the kitchen island ended up doubling as a dining table. The black-and-gold Dekton top appears as a large stone slab on top of the carved wood with a tapered base - a monolithic form associated with Brutalist architecture.

An island finished in a black-and-gold Saint Laurent Dekton top is the centrepiece in the dining-cum-kitchen space. PHOTO: PHYLLICIA WANG

As a result of removing the bedroom walls nearest to the dining and kitchen area, natural light streams into the space. One former bedroom has become a study for Ms Neo. The raised platform defines the space and sliding doors provide privacy when desired.

The living room, the kitchen and dining and study areas blend seamlessly and feel like one large communal space. Mr Wang says: "We could be eating at the island table one moment and working on it the next, or hanging out with family and friends over drinks."

One former bedroom has become a study for Ms Jocelyn Neo. PHOTO: PHYLLICIA WANG

After some reconfiguration of the layout, the bedroom adjacent to the master bedroom is now a walk-in wardrobe. The master bedroom is an oasis of calm with an elevated platform bed that appears to float.

The bedroom adjacent to the master bedroom is now a walk-in wardrobe. PHOTO: PHYLLICIA WANG

A ceiling that curves into a curtain pelmet adds a softer touch to the cement-look finishes. It also matches the rounded edges of the plywood panels that conceal the bomb shelter and storage spaces.

Furnishings excluded, the renovation cost about $150,000, and the couple moved in just before Christmas in 2021.Due to the pandemic, a lack of manpower and other logistical issues resulted in the project taking five months to complete.

  • This article first appeared in the May 2022 issue of Home & Decor, which is published by SPH Magazines. Get the June and latest issue of Home & Decor now at all newsstands or download the digital edition of Home & Decor from the App Store, Magzter or Google Play. Also, see more inspiring homes at Home & Decor website.

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