Mr Benny Tan's decision to buy this Chuan Park condominium apartment hinged on whether an L-shaped wall in the kitchen could be removed.
The old kitchen was almost completely walled up and was encroaching on the dining space. The enclosed space was also somewhat dark, with the only source of natural light from windows at the end of the long kitchen.
He asked Mr Lawrence Puah, director of home-grown boutique interior design consultancy Akihaus Design Studio, to find out whether it was a load-bearing wall.
Having ascertained that it was a non-structural element and could be removed, Mr Tan, a 50-year-old translator, went ahead with the purchase.
The floor area is considered large for a one-bedroom unit, of which a significant portion is taken up by a generously sized balcony that wraps around the periphery of the 1,280 sq ft apartment, stretching from the living room to the bedroom.
The previous owner had extended the living room out into the balcony. This, and the subsequent removal of the kitchen wall, made a difference in terms of opening up the interior.
Mr Tan, who studied in Japan and frequently travels there for translation, research and consultancy work, says: "I told Lawrence I wanted a Japanese theme for my home."
The three-month renovation cost about $120,000 and he moved in in July 2017.
Mr Puah's design approach involved distilling, and re-interpreting, the key elements of Japanese interiors. The neutral palette, comprising mainly brown, off-white and grey hues, achieves a tranquillity that evokes a natural sense of calm - reminiscent of Japanese interiors.
The style is contemporary modern, but the restrained execution and uncluttered character reflect a pared-down simplicity that is synonymous with Japanese style.
Mr Tan originally wanted to split the bedroom, so that his 11-year-old son, Yew Shyan, who visits weekly, could have his own space.
But Mr Puah had another suggestion. "Instead of having two small bedrooms, I asked Benny to consider incorporating a movable screen, similar to a Japanese shoji, between the living and dining rooms," he says.
"This way, the living room could be partitioned into a temporary bedroom when the need arises."
Mr Tan is receptive to the idea but it has been put on hold, as there is a possibility that the condominium may be sold en bloc.
The original bathroom was attached to the bedroom and the apartment did not have a common bath.
As Mr Tan lives alone most of the time, it would not have been an issue, although a bathroom that is more accessible to guests would be useful.
Hence, Mr Puah reconfigured the layout and introduced a corridor between the bedroom and bathroom, hence re-zoning the attached bathroom as a common one.
The corridor ends in the balcony behind the bedroom, thus providing common access to the outdoors.
This outdoor space has since been transformed from a neglected and under-utilised space into an inviting outdoor terrace where Mr Tan can have breakfast in the mornings or wind down in the evenings, while enjoying the panoramic city skyline.
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• This article first appeared in the December 2018 issue of Home & Decor, which is published by SPH Magazines.
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