Banker, Shaun Lee and eatery owner, Andrea Tang viewed 50 properties before purchasing this four-room resale unit at Bukit Purmei Road.
The couple knew it was the one because of the Mount Faber views and interestingly, the original, 40-year-old pink marble flooring.
Who Lives Here: A couple in their 30s
Home: A four-room HDB flat at Bukit Purmei Road
Size: 1,000 sq ft
Interior Designer: Metre Architects
Interior Design Brief
They had some specific requirements in their brief. Apart from retaining the existing pink marble flooring, they wanted an open plan that would maximise natural lighting and cross-ventilation within the long and narrow flat.
Other requirements included an enlarged master bedroom with separate sleeping and walk-in wardrobe areas, a bathtub in the master bathroom, a multi-purpose guest room that can also double up as a storage, exercise and mahjong area, an enclosed kitchen and a modern Guanyin altar.
As Shaun is into pottery, Andrea is an avid reader and the couple loves to host family and friends and have a weakness for shoes and clothes, they also asked for a hosting space that can comfortably accommodate a party of eight, and ample storage for clothes, shoes, books and pottery.
The kitchen can be enclosed using sliding and folding glass panels that separate it from the living and dining areas or the bar counter, which can double up as a workspace.
Interior design mood board
Despite the extensive brief, the couple refrained from prescribing a preferred style or compiling a mood board – something that many of the eight design firms that they met with insisted on.
They eventually decided to engage architect, Woon Chung Yen, founder and principal of Metre Architects.
“Not only did his proposal meet our requirements most completely and uniquely, but more reassuringly, he appeared genuinely excited about, and inspired by the project,” says Shaun.
No Pinterest mood boards
For architect Chung Yen, the fact that Shaun and Andrea did not come to him with preconceived ideas gleaned from internet images of apartments that they wanted him to replicate was an indication that they understood that design is fundamentally bespoke.
“They did not short circuit the design process by looking at existing solutions, but instead focused on the requirements, potential and problems. This gave us the opportunity to be truly creative in coming up with a design that would transcend theme and style,” he explains.
One of the interior design constraints was a pair of columns located in the middle of the unit.
Instead of trying to conceal them, Chung Yen chose to express them as freestanding columns by hacking and shifting segments of the existing walls that were attached to these columns.
Detaching the columns from the old walls gives rise to a subliminal corridor between the columns and the new walls.
“This creates a sense of layering, as well as a buffer zone between the public (living and dining) and private (master suite) zones within the apartment,” says Chung Yen.
A fixed glass panel visually connects the private and public spaces and fosters a sense of spatial expansion by revealing or concealing from view as one moves about the spaces.
Glass Panel Partitions
The incorporation of two fixed glass panels within the master bedroom and walk-in wardrobe walls behind these two columns gives the impression of the columns having been displaced from the walls.
Each of these glass-and-column duo may reveal or conceal your view from or of the private or public spaces, depending on where you are standing, thereby inducing a sense of spatial expansion.
A sense of the apartment’s peripheral walls along its length and depth is immediately apparent upon entering the home.
This perception is conveyed through a series of spatial layers. Crossing the threshold and looking straight ahead, a low shoe cabinet defines the entrance foyer while introducing the first of many layers.
The second layer is a portal formed by a beam connecting the two columns.
The wall to one of the bedrooms was demolished to create an open, multi-purpose room that can be closed off using a curtain. This forms a third layer.
Turning right from the main entrance, yet another series of spatial layers is revealed.
The first is a new bar counter that takes the place of the demolished store room, followed by two sets of sliding-folding glass panels that separate the kitchen from the living/dining and the yard respectively.
$125,000 Renovation cost
The renovation took six months and the couple moved into their new home in March 2023. The cost came up to about $125,000 excluding furniture and furnishings.
A restrained colour palette throughout the apartment, including the bathrooms, creates a cohesive scheme.
Shaun and Andrea appreciate how Chung Yen guided them along the way very “organically”.
Andrea comments: “The home offers a glimpse of who we are and it also reflects who we grew into while creating it. Chung Yen has made us see and move within the house in a completely different way from what we expected when we bought it. We absolutely love it.”
For Chung Yen, he is guided by the philosophy that “design should come through us and not from us”. He believes that with a thorough understanding of the client’s brief coupled with an in-depth analysis of the floor plan, the design solution will present itself intuitively through this synthesis.