A Conservation Walk-Up Apartment Gets A Contemporary Makeover


When Luke Pang first viewed his third-floor walk-up apartment located along Joo Chiat Road, he had some reservations. Flanking the staircase to his home are two KTV lounges. But when he entered the 1,087-square foot space, he was impressed by the apartment’s potential. The thing that attracted the father-of-two was the unit’s pitched roof, which at 6.5m-tall, was left exposed with a few skylights that opened up the space to an abundance of natural light. He was also charmed by the apartment’s wide, open-plan layout and its exposed brick walls.

To quell his reservations about the neighbourhood, Luke revisited the site a few times at odd hours of the night. “In summary, my fears were unfounded,” he says, “It also helped that the feng shui of the apartment suits me. I really see this home as a gem.”

To transform the space into a man cave-meets-cosy haven, the homeowner went online to search for an ideal interior design team. After a few rounds of short listing, he decided to engage interior design firm Prozfile. Luke explains, “I had the best impression of Cadine Lim and her team at Prozfile as they seemed the keenest and at the same time, they gave me the impression that they have the expertise and experience to execute what I wanted for my home.”

One of the major renovation works done to the space was to construct a mezzanine loft and an accompanying staircase, effectively adding 400 square feet to the home. This new space contains two bedrooms, which are encased in a full stretch of glass wall and panels of Naco louvre windows over at the daughters’ bedroom. The construction of the mezzanine was done with utmost care – the design team secured steel beams at four corners of the second level’s base to keep it aloft.

The rest of the apartment’s original layout was kept – the open-concept configuration was already in place when the family moved in. Other features that the homeowner retained were the exposed brick walls and pillars that came with the original unit built in the 1960s.

As a new staircase leading to the second level was constructed, the design team decided to incorporate some interest to the feature by laying black-and-white Peranakan–style tiles over the sides. Next to this visually arresting element is the living room’s newly-constructed feature wall that has been laid over with blue-grey laminates. Not apparent to the untrained eye is that this expansive TV wall conceals a storeroom within. This amply-sized space allows the inhabitants to store and organise their luggage and other household items neatly thanks to built-in shelves and a generous depth.

The living space itself takes its cues from the man cave theme that Luke appreciates. Carefully furnished with a collection of classic pieces, like a Chesterfield sofa from Locus Habitat, lounge chairs from King Living and designer pendant lamps bought at Space Furniture, the living space is a cosy yet elegant zone to chill out in.

Another set of carpentry was incorporated into the dining room to house the homeowner’s wine chiller and other dry kitchen accessories. This space was left uncluttered save for a large 2.8m-long dining table and an industrial-style chandelier. In fact, this zone is homeowner Luke’s favourite area in the apartment. He explains, “I really like the dining area because it is a good representation of what the whole renovation is about – a space that is simple but exudes good space planning, sophistication and spaciousness.”

Soundproof windows were installed at the dining area to keep noise coming from the main thoroughfare below to a minimum. Because the apartment occupies a row of conservation shophouses, the homeowners had the Prozfile team source for thin-framed windows to match the 1960s Modern-style windows of the original building.

The windowpanes seen at the dining area are echoed in the area between the kitchen and the laundry room. Stretching from floor to ceiling, the glass wall works as a partition to separate the “dry” area of the kitchen from the “wet” area of the laundry room, all while giving the apartment a sophisticated New York loft vibe. An additional use of the glass wall with double-doors carved out in the middle is that it can keep the air-conditioning within the front part of the home.

Beyond the glass wall is the home’s laundry area and sole bathroom. Roomy and well-lit, the utilitarian space is large enough to hang laundry and, according to the homeowners, host barbeque parties. It also contains two large sinks with a wall of mirror and a generously-sized bathroom located right at the back. To construct this laundry area, the design team expanded on the existing balcony and enclosed the space with black-framed glass windows. The area was also kitted out in simple cabinetry like bottom-hung cupboards at the vanity area and a tall shelf housing the washing machine.

With its lofty vibe, cavernous interiors and unique details, this home proves that with the right approach, a wholly contemporary and well-thought out space can be carved out of a heritage shell.

This was adapted from an article originally published in the September 2017 issue of SquareRooms. Photo credits: Prozfile