The Chic Home: Two-bedroom condo unit full of surprises

The landscaping in the common area, coupled with the high ceiling, provided the catalyst for the design strategy. PHOTO: KHOO GUO JIE
In keeping with the purity of the design concept, the colours and materials are kept simple. PHOTO: KHOO GUO JIE
Matte grey tiles are used for the primary flooring, and the bathroom finishes to focus on the sloping ceiling and timber rafters. PHOTO: KHOO GUO JIE

SINGAPORE - A 30-something lawyer who works for a technology company lives in this two-bedroom, 1,119 sq ft ground-floor condominium unit in River Valley Road.

Wanting it to be a retreat to unwind after business trips and long working days, she sent a brief to Ms Lim Shing Hui, principal architect at L Architects and a long-time church friend.

Ms Lim says: "The living room and bedroom opened onto a beautiful patio with trees, plants and water features. I wondered if I could make the living room and bedroom feel as if they belong in a house where doors or windows open up onto a garden."

When the existing false ceiling was removed and the team discovered the additional ceiling space above, Ms Lim's vision came together. The landscaping in the common area, coupled with the high ceiling, provided the catalyst for the design strategy.

Although apartments on the first floor are not popular among home buyers, who prefer privacy and the views offered by higher floors, she says the team saw the project as "an experiment to bridge the landed house and apartment typologies, and reimagine the negative aspects of a ground-floor unit".

The original apartment was also old and dark, and it felt cold and sombre to Ms Lim. Maximising natural light was therefore essential. The original kitchen wall was removed to let more sunlight penetrate the interior and extend the dining area.

Green can liven up a room when selectively used in areas such as a kitchen counter. PHOTO: KHOO GUO JIE

The floor plan is now separated into three key zones: living, dining and the master bedroom. Because of the high ceiling, each area has a distinct pitched roof, creating the illusion of three little houses in one space.

Moving between each zone also requires crossing thresholds, with granite steps surrounded by river pebbles, which gives the impression of travelling from one house to another.

The original bedroom timber flooring has been stained to disguise tonal differences. PHOTO: KHOO GUO JIE

While many designers build lofts in apartments with high ceilings, Ms Lim chose not to add one because the existing open-floor area was enough for the home owner, who lives a simple lifestyle with minimal possessions.

Off-the-rack Muji open shelves are seamlessly incorporated into a recess in the dining area as an alternative to built-in carpentry. PHOTO: KHOO GUO JIE

She adds: "People often enter with preconceived notions of what a typical condominium interior should look like. Many are surprised and slightly confused when they realise it has an unexpected house form."

The home owner says the 12-week renovation has changed her too. She moved into the apartment in September 2020 and has since realised she prefers staying in to going out. "I love inviting friends over to enjoy meaningful conversations," she says.

  • This article first appeared in the January 2022 issue of Home & Decor, which is published by SPH Magazines. Get the March 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.

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