The Chic Home: Soaring 'marble' walls in two-storey Sembawang penthouse

The colour palette of the house revolves around browns and greys.
The colour palette of the house revolves around browns and greys.PHOTO: VEE CHIN WITH ART DIRECTION BY KRISTY QUAH

SINGAPORE - When a pair of business owners purchased an old two-storey, 2,300 sq ft penthouse apartment in Sembawang, they knew that it needed a major overhaul.

After trawling the Internet for a designer who could rise to the challenge, Lim Ai Tiong (Lato) Architects/ Design caught their attention.

"It was reassuring that (the firm's owner) Ai Tiong is an architect, so he would be able to handle a project involving lofts and double volumes," say the couple, aged 48 and 55, who declined to be named.

Their brief called for three bedrooms - a master bedroom and a bedroom each for their teenage son and daughter. The couple also needed a proper area for working from home.

They had planned to have the master bedroom-cum-study and their daughter's bedroom on the first storey, and the living room and their son's bedroom upstairs.

But Mr Lim convinced them to go for a more practical layout by having the living room and children's bedrooms downstairs, and the master bedroom and study on the second storey, where there is more privacy.

Various spaces in the first storey were also reshuffled. By removing the walls, an existing bedroom became the living area. Its location at the end of the apartment also makes the space more intimate.

The dining room was reimagined as a double-volume space to create a grander feel. Connecting the two is a long walkway conceptualised as a chill-out space, with armchairs and floor-to-ceiling timber shelves.


The wall behind the headboard has stainless steel inserts. PHOTO: VEE CHIN WITH ART DIRECTION BY KRISTY QUAH


A Louis Poulsen Artichoke pendant lamp hangs 4m above the dining table. PHOTOS: VEE CHIN WITH ART DIRECTION BY KRISTY QUAH

Walls that rise two storeys around the double-volume space are clad in laminate with a marble look. "I always look at the big picture when designing. In this case, the scheme is about the soaring marble-clad walls," says Mr Lim.

Laminates of different sizes, separated by steel inserts, were used because genuine marble would have been too heavy for double-height walls.

Selecting the right walls to cover was also critical. Mr Lim adds: "If all were clad, the interior would appear too busy. I eventually decided on three walls that provide strategic focal points."


The white marble look, courtesy of laminates, adds opulence. PHOTOS: VEE CHIN WITH ART DIRECTION BY KRISTY QUAH

During the renovation, he discovered that the false ceiling in the master bedroom concealed a pitched roof. He had it removed and restored the exposed timber rafters. The result gives the master bedroom a loftiness that makes it feel more like part of a landed property than an apartment.

The family moved into the home in early 2019, after a seven-month renovation that cost about $300,000, excluding furnishings.

• This article first appeared in the April 2021 issue of Home & Decor, which is published by SPH Magazines. Get the June and latest issue now at all newsstands or download the digital edition from the App Store, Magzter or Google Play. See more inspiring homes at the Home & Decor website.