This Renovated Condo Combines Old-World Details With Modern Minimalism


It’s not uncommon for owners to contemplate acquiring a brand-new flat especially after residing in their timeworn home for a long time. Take for instance this middle-aged couple who has been staying at their two-bedroom condominium for more than a decade. The option to move out and start afresh was appealing⁠, since their home felt dated, overly cluttered and uninspiring. Nonetheless, the neighbourhood’s prime location and enviable views are a big pull, so they decided to stay put. That said, a major renovation was definitely in order for this condominium.

“The homeowners wanted us to reconfigure the apartment’s layout to maximise storage and, on a whole, make the space more functional,” says Kuay Mei Yee of DISTINCTidENTITY. The designer who led this project also shares that her clients had a penchant for elements with historic vibes. “They are particularly drawn to Peranakan motifs and old-school metal grilles.”

Instead of going full-on retro⁠—lest it turns out looking passé⁠—Mei Yee took a fresher approach by using traditional elements as accent pieces. Monochromatic tones, clean lines and modern finishes with the likes of metal and wood set the foundation for a modern minimalist setting in the renovated condo. Design elements influenced by the yesteryears dot the place to bring out the old-world theme in an understated way. The contrast between the distinct aesthetics also enables the intricate details and texture of the vintage-inspired pieces to truly pop.

One of the biggest impacts made to the home’s layout was the removal of a wall to convert two bedrooms into a single sprawling one, much like a studio apartment. This resulted in a much bigger master suite. Mei Yee says: “After removing the walls, I managed to carve out sufficient space to fit in a walk-in wardrobe, a dressing table and a full-height storage cabinet.”

The bedhead⁠ is a perfect marriage of old and new with a sleek contemporary-style design embellished with Peranakan-esque patterns along its sides. Taking pride of place on the wall, a structural piece that sports geometric forms referenced from vintage metal grilles stands out brilliantly against its ivory backdrop. Similar wall art panels can be spotted in several parts of the house, breathing a nostalgic aura into the modern minimalist residence.

It’s hard to miss the sliding lattice glass partition that now stands between the master suite and common area. Glass panels allow sunlight to suffuse through the apartment and across rooms freely, making a mile of a difference in brightening up the condominium’s interior post-renovation. But that’s not all⁠, as the feature’s black finish picks up on the other dark-toned accents within the proximity for visual cohesiveness.

To demarcate work from leisure, the condo’s workspace is now repositioned at the common zone right in front of the window. Venetian blinds let the man of the house take in a view of the outdoors unobstructed for whenever he needs to take a breather, yet offer full privacy when needed. The custom-made desk clearly exemplifies the home’s new aesthetics, featuring linear details, a minimal design, and subtle Peranakan motifs for old-world charm. Its sleek silhouette also means that the desk hardly hinders the natural light that streams through the window, keeping the living area flooded with sunshine.

Now that their condominium has been given a new lease on life, the couple can continue making memories in the same familiar neighbourhood that they call home. Only now it sports a fresh look, feels super spacious and is better suited to their lifestyle needs.

This was adapted from an article originally published in the March 2020 issue of SquareRooms.