Stepping into this light-filled home with open spaces and a lofty feel, it is hard to imagine that it used to be dark and oppressive.
The original interior was very compartmentalised, the ceiling was low and the natural light coming in from the small windows was limited.
When the owners purchased this semi-detached unit off Holland Road in 2017, they envisioned a hygge (a Danish catch-all term for all things comfortable and which imparts a sense of cosiness) home for them and their three children.
The wife says: "We wanted an inviting place where we could make memories as a family and entertain our friends."
The task of transforming the home fell on Mr Hsu Hsia Pin, Ms Eunice Khoo and Mr Amoz Boon from home-grown architectural practice Ehka Studio.
"Our approach embraces the existing structure and exposes it instead of trying to conceal it," says Mr Hsu, a partner at the firm.
The project was classified as a reconstruction because it involved major additions and alteration work. The design, submissions and tender took seven months, while the construction was completed in about a year. The owners declined to reveal the cost of the project.
An extension upfront creates a larger living area in the 3,300 sq ft home that opens out to a new garden patio.
A void was introduced in the slab above the living area to establish a connection with the family area on the second storey.
The double-volume space adds a vertical dimension to the spatial flow and allows light to filter into the heart of the home from the skylight above the stairwell.
To optimise the relationship between the dining area and the kitchen, the positions of the original kitchen and guest room were changed so that the new kitchen is now adjacent to the dining area. Functionally, this achieves a much better flow.
Full-height sliding glass doors that extend the length of the dining area replaced the old windows. "These allow more light and air into the deeper recesses of the interior, as well as form a link with the side garden," Mr Hsu points out.
On the second level are three bedrooms belonging to the children, a 14-year-old boy and two girls aged seven and five.
The rooms are arranged around a family area, where they can watch television or use the computer. It is also where the missus does her crafting.
The attic is a new addition to the existing two-storey property. It houses the master suite, comprising the bedroom, bathroom and a walk-in wardrobe. The pitched roof and ample headroom give the space a bright, airy feel.
One of the key design features of the master bathroom is the way the bathtub opens out to an external planter.
"We wanted a well-ventilated, spacious bathroom that's comfortable and relaxing," says Mr Hsu. The team addressed the issue of privacy with Venetian blinds and a row of plants outside.
The whitewashed interior provides a blank canvas for the lady of the house to express her creativity. Many of the decor and art pieces were collected during the family's trips abroad.
She says: "My style is eclectic. I do not constrain myself to any particular style, but I ensure that the colours of the furnishings complement each other.
"My input in the concept and execution has allowed me to realise a teenage dream of becoming an architect or interior designer."
It has been just over a year since the family moved in last April and she is still dreaming up new interior ideas. "I will rework the look of some of the spaces over time. The neutral wall and flooring make this possible."
• This article first appeared in the August 2020 issue of Home & Decor, which is published by SPH Magazines.
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