Home to a pair of married creatives and their 10-year-old daughter, this five-room point block HDB apartment nestled between the Bukit Ho Swee and Tiong Bahru estates was destined to be unique right from the get-go of the overhaul. As designer-in-charge Clarence Lee of The Merry Men Interiors recalls, “With a deep appreciation for art and graphics, our clients sought a home that would be a colourful and playful backdrop to their creative work.”
Employing a theme that Clarence best describes as “a variation of soft minimalism with Muuto influences”, the new home now boasts a sophisticated yet playful interior that juxtaposes tailored furnishings and a carefully curated material palette set against a soft industrial backdrop.
For the living room, although quite unconventional, the owners requested not to have any downlights installed on the ceiling here. Instead, they preferred the shadowy yet romantic ambience that floor and table lamps bring to the evenings. This led Clarence to envision the idea of using polycarbonate sheets to create a partition wall for the television area, which also serves as a cosy light box at night. And seeing as both the entrance to the bomb shelter and a stretch of built-in cabinets are hidden behind it, the sliding screen also helps to soften the sharp edges of the fixtures while adding both textural layers and depth to the space.
Separated from the living room by a partition wall, the study was predominantly kitted out in loose furniture, creating a light and breezy ambience that is also conducive for handling work obligations. Concurrently, the homeowners wished to have more natural light flow into the home. To this end, a large opening was knocked into the wall and fitted with a glass screen to bring more light into the communal spaces. Against unfussy, slim-lined furniture and fixtures, the desk stands out with its unique design. Clarence recalls, “I wanted to give the family a worktable that was sculptural and conveys a certain material honesty. This was why I had it done in cast concrete and with a very slim profile so that the length of it suggests a certain gravity-defying quality.”
Seeing as the family bakes quite frequently, a galley layout was chosen for the kitchen to maximise the total counter space. While both sides feature quartz countertops, the backsplashes were different – with tempered glass on the side with the sink, and magnetised stainless steel on the opposite end. “As the latter area is used as their dedicated baking spot, the magnetised backsplash allows the family to use magnets to hold up recipes while they prepare the necessary ingredients,” explains Clarence.
Rounding out the communal zones is the dining area, which was simply furnished with a live edge suar wood table and bench from The Merry Men Interiors’ furniture arm, Herman Furniture, as well as wood-finished dining chairs from Ethnicraft. Along the main dining room wall, a display niche can be found carved out in the middle. “Given that the owners collected many interesting art books and magazines, this niche is the perfect spot to display those periodicals. It also lends some depth to what would have otherwise been a flat wall,” Clarence recalls. Meanwhile, for added functionality, built-in cabinets were installed parallel to the dining set as a means to conceal a shoe cabinet, the apartment’s distribution box, as well as to house a speaker unit.
A special request from the clients, deep turquoise shades adorn the four walls of their private living chambers. Concurrently, the custom-made bed frame boasts a striking deep maroon hue. “As the homeowners were set on the deep turquoise shade for the walls, we were determined to find a complementary laminated finish for the bed’s base,” says Clarence. Given that these two hues are considered to be opposites on the colour wheel, the result was an aesthetic that works very well together visually. Additionally, the frame also comes with drawers on both sides for storing linen, further enhancing the practicality of the built-in fixture.
Past the sleeping zone, the en-suite bathroom stuns with its all-black interior. With an intention to create a moodier ambience in this space, the design team opted for a carefully curated material palette of black square tiles with black grout lines on the walls, and a dark grey tiled flooring. This is then accompanied by a feature wall within the wet shower that was made up of matte black mosaic square tiles. But despite the abundance of dark shades, the bathroom feels far from intimidating. This is attributed to the use of different textures that makes the space feel layered, as well as the warm cove lighting embedded that adds an extra sense of cosiness overall.
One of the bedrooms that the homeowners’ daughter calls her own is grounded by a navy blue feature wall – a shade that was chosen by the young occupant herself. Paired against the other pristine white surfaces, this accent colour carves out a soothing, calm atmosphere that is perfect for her daily rest and leisure activities. And seeing as the partition wall here was removed to make way for the wardrobe units in the adjoining master bedroom, there was no space beside the bed for a usual nightstand. To counter this, the design team carved out a ledge on the back of the storage fixture to create a landing spot for all the books she reads before bedtime.
When asked to sum up his thoughts on the project, Clarence had this to say, “It was an attempt to be a little more experimental with materials, and it was also a slight breakaway from our usual design approach as we were tasked to incorporate colours into the experience of the space right from the onset.” But it’s safe to say that this venture outside of his comfort zone definitely paid off, for the home now boasts a stunning interior that combines aesthetics and functionality in equal measure.
This was adapted from an article originally published in the August 2019 issue of SquareRooms. Photo credits: The Merry Men Interiors