When the world outside is in a state of topsy-turvy, there is nothing like being in a home which exudes a sense of calm, comfort and familiarity. When Khai Toh, design director at Archlab, was designing his apartment in Ang Mo Kio a few years ago, he had no idea what 2020 would turn out to be.
All he wanted was a home that was “tranquil, monastic and understated – and comfortable”, says Khai. Step into the home and, immediately, a sense of calm takes over.
Five years ago, the Singaporean, who is experienced in architecture and urban design, returned home after 25 years in the US to look after his parents.
His home is a 1,300 sq ft apartment, picked for its size, convenient location, and also the view – it overlooks the neighbourhood park and Bukit Timah Nature Reserve in the distance.
Once he got his keys, Khai launched into a complete overhaul of the 40-year-old apartment. He tore down several walls, but left two bedrooms intact – one for guests and the other for himself. A third bedroom was converted into an open space, which doubles as a home office/study and dining room.
He gave expensive materials such as marble a miss in favour of modest concrete, vinyl and plywood. But with his expert touch, the end result is a home that looks several times more expensive than its cost.
“I wanted to bring out the dignity of these materials that no one might bother to,” says Khai, adding that the apartment is also easy to maintain.
As an interior architect, Khai understands the value of a welcoming entrance. So the first design feature that visitors see is a strip of black and white dotted tiles on the floor, leading from the front door right to the kitchen entrance. From afar, you can easily mistake it for a rug.