When this family of five purchased this terrace house in Sennett Road, they were undecided about whether there was a necessity to tear and rebuild the property. Due to the internal layout and some architectural details of the more than 30-year-old house, the homeowners were unsure if it would cater to the needs of their young family well.
They then approached Lawrence Puah, the founder and director of akiHAUS Design Studio, for help. “Most homeowners don’t realise how much it costs it rebuild. After studying the property, I decided that it’s enough to meet their needs,” he shares. But some modifications had to be made. One priority was to tackle the small and narrow spaces to make them feel more spacious. He also aimed to optimise pockets of spaces to accommodate the storage needs of the family, as well as to bring more natural light into the home.
The first floor comes with a split level that places the living area in the lower section, creating a compact communal area that the homeowners were never able to address due to the constraint of the split level. Although raising the floor level to match that of the dining zone would have solved this issue, it would have created a need for steps between the living to the front terrace, and also reduced the ceiling clearance, both of which were not ideal scenarios. Instead, the living space was raised up by a platform that reduced the difference in floor levels between the living and dining to about 350mm. “This then allowed us to expand the living area into the dining zone by way of a custom-built sofa. This not only dealt with the existing structural constraints to create a living space that is wider, but also created a unique custom sofa that looks as though it was built into the home,” says Lawrence. The sofa also serves as a safety barrier, removing the need for the glass partition that the previous owner had installed.
To cater to the family’s storage needs, the team built full-height storage units that stretches from the living area to the back of the house. While the female homeowner loved the elegance of the classical style, she was hesitant to have Victorian mouldings in the home. So, the team pared down the details and used light timber and marble-like laminates, all of which create the illusion of a larger space.
Meanwhile, other on-site conditions the design team had to deal with involved the apartment’s pre-existing structural breams. For instance, the first floor had beams at differing heights and at odd locations, which made for an unappealing aesthetic. “Our solution was then to create cove ceilings over them, complete with cove lighting embedded within,” Lawrence explains.
Then, on the second floor, there was another issue with one of the beams situated above the balcony door. To rectify this, the designers installed a fake beam box-up along the two longer walls, essentially creating what looks like a perimeter of beams that encircles the study room. “This effectively makes the beams seem as though they have always been a part of the home’s architecture, rather than simply sticking out like sore thumbs,” the designer quipped.
Moving on, the original layout of second storey brought with it quite a few challenges. Firstly, the designers noted that the master bedroom was too long and narrow, and decided to shorten the master suite so that all three bedrooms could be hosted along the same side. By doing so, the bedroom next to the staircase was freed up. “This allowed us to open up the space by tearing down partition walls to accommodate an open study area. By allowing natural light to penetrate the space, it made the foyer of the second floor a lot more welcoming and conducive; a stark contrast to how dark and constricted it was originally,” elaborates Lawrence.
Next, the team also reconfigured the layout for the bathrooms to make better use of dead spaces. As a result, the second floor of the home now boasts a grand and generous master bathroom, as well as a smaller common bath.
By the end of the three-month project, it was clear that Lawrence and the rest of the akiHAUS design team paid extremely close attention to both the large and small elements of the home, ensuring that not only would every detail complement each other seamlessly, but that the home would also serve the family well in the long run.
This was adapted from an article originally written by Rossara Jamil published in the November 2019 issue of SquareRooms. Photo credits: akiHAUS