The Chic Home: Feline-friendly flat design for couple and their five cats

The low-slung furniture, including the dining set and sofa, reflects the couple's preference for being close to the ground.
The low-slung furniture, including the dining set and sofa, reflects the couple's preference for being close to the ground.PHOTO: VEE CHIN, ART DIRECTION: KRISTY QUAH

SINGAPORE - For 29-year-old digital marketer Amanda and 28-year-old civil servant Toby, putting together their matrimonial home was not just about the two of them, but also about their cats.

When the couple - who wish to be known only by their first names - engaged award-winning design practice Asolidplan, founded by architect Wong Ker How, to design the interior of their five-room, 1,248 sq ft Housing Board flat in Tampines North, the British Shorthair brothers Merry and Pippin were a key consideration.

"We wanted a home that is bright, airy and cosy. Our cats had to have an open space to roam, so we opted for an open-concept design," says Amanda.

Most of the walls were removed to make way for a large open space. Even the sleeping area, up on a platform, has no walls or doors. It is defined spatially by a low, U-shaped partition.

This platform partially continues into the living area, where it wraps around the periphery of the space. It runs parallel to the windows along the length of the apartment to form a low ledge, ending as a television console feature.

This element of continuity creates "the sense of being able to sit down anywhere in the house, and not just on the sofa or chairs".

The low-slung furniture, including the dining set and sofa, reflects the couple's preference for being close to the ground. These - and the various steps, ledges and parapets - are also great for the cats.

Since moving into their new home in March last year (2020), Amanda and Toby have added three more British Shorthairs - females Blaine, Lyra and Laurie - to the family. The felines love strutting along the elevated surfaces and lying on the steps while propping their paws on a higher step or ledge.

In the mornings, the couple wake up to see the cats perched on the low partition behind the bed, or are woken up by Pippin meowing in their faces and Merry gently kneading their hands or heads with his paws.

The open concept gives the cats access to everything. PHOTO: VEE CHIN, ART DIRECTION: KRISTY QUAH 

Other pet-friendly considerations include the absence of small spaces or nooks that collect dust - which Amanda says the cats will snoop in and come out covered in old fur balls. Everything has been designed to be flat and gap-free.

British Shorthairs are a hefty breed. Merry and Pippin, the oldest, weigh 6.5kg each and will continue to grow until they fully mature in a couple of years. To avoid accidents, there are no tall, open shelves in the apartment.

"We are paranoid about their safety, so these considerations are important and give us peace of mind, especially when we are not at home," Amanda says.

Nicknamed “Cat Hotel”, this wooden den is where the cats hide out when visitors such as a handyman show up. PHOTO: VEE CHIN, ART DIRECTION: KRISTY QUAH 

The renovations took four months. The couple, who took off on their honeymoon for three weeks during that time, would swing by once a week to check on the progress once they were back.

The process was smooth and efficient - the couple did not even have to go through the laborious process of selecting tiles and colours. The design fee and renovation cost came up to about $90,000, excluding furniture and furnishings.

  • This article first appeared in the July 2021 issue of Home & Decor, which is published by SPH Magazines. Get the September 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 the Home & Decor website.