photos AKIHAUS DESIGN STUDIO

The homeowners are a couple in their 40s who work in finance. They purchased the home sometime in 2019, but shelved renovation plans due to the pandemic.

This gave the couple, their elderly parents and three children – a 15-year-old daughter and two boys aged 12 and 10, more time to consider what they wanted in their new home.

Who Lives Here: A 3-generation family of seven
Home: A semi-detached home at Seletar Hills
Size: 5,000 sq ft (Approximate land area); 3,310 sq ft (built-up area)
Architect: Akihaus Design Studio

The piano used to sit underneath the staircase before the renovation. Now that is has a more prominent location in the living room, the lady of the house and the children are enjoying playing the piano more than before.

50-Year-old semi-detached house

Their search for an interior designer brought them to Lawrence Puah, design director of Akihaus Design Studio.

“We appreciate that Lawrence has a background in architecture. He also has experience working on old houses and understand the challenges that these projects may entail,” say the homeowners.

As the house is about 50 years old, the homeowners did consider demolishing it and rebuilding. However, further discussions with Lawrence convinced them that it is possible to achieve their objectives without necessarily having to go down that route.

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The wide and open garden spaces around the home have been retained and enhanced.

Rebuild landed property in Singapore

“Owners who buy older houses often consider a rebuild because the existing interiors tend to be convoluted and dark, thus giving the impression that the spaces are very tight and limited. However, often times, all it takes is a reconfiguration of the spaces that will not only address the owner‘s modern day needs, but also open up the interior for more natural light and ventilation to make the spaces more conducive,” says Lawrence.

In this case, the house was originally designed with a modernist architectural style of the 70s and 80s, with beautiful cantilevered reinforced concrete forms both internally and externally, as well as an impressing double volume space.

“This made retaining the existing house more meaningful as it not only preserves a part of our built history, but its architectural DNA also makes for interesting design,” he explains.

As nature lovers, one of the things that the couple enjoy most about the property are the expansive garden spaces at the front, side and rear.

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The semi-outdoor patio is a conducive space for the family to share a meal surrounded by greenery.

Timber decking Singapore

It was important that these outdoor spaces be retained, but enhanced in such a way that would allow the family to better utilise the external areas that were formerly just turfing all round.

A timber deck has been added in front of the house just outside the living area. This serves as an extension of the internal space that heightens the connection between indoors and outdoors.

To the right, a hardscape comprising large slabs of granulated pavers surrounded by a border of lava stones balances the softscape of plants and greenery and also provides an inviting space for the lady of the house to practice Yoga under the sky.

Outdoor patio ideas

Located on slightly higher terrain a few steps up is a new, semi-outdoor patio beside the existing dining area. This is where the family gathers for dinner or simply just hang out with one another.

To brighten up the interior, the high-level louvres above the double volume living room were replaced with fixed glass panels and the ceiling timber strips were painted white. Hacking the wall separating the dining area from the kitchen and back-of- house areas and replacing it with sliding glass panels helps to open up the vista and the spaces, as well as enhance natural ventilation.

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A timber laminate feature wall that continues from the living to the dining room provides both visual interest and spatial choreography.

Beige living room decor

The interior features and finishes have been designed to reinforce spatial clarity. A timber laminate feature wall wraps around from the living area to the dining room, orchestrating the circulatory movement.

It also grounds the space and conceals the wiring for the television set and other entertainment equipment. As if striking up a dialogue, a white wall opposite leads the way upstairs.

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The layout of the living room was conceived such that the family can enjoy the garden view while seated on the sofa.

Dining room design

The dining room is located a few steps above the living area and one of the constraints was the low ceiling height. To overcome this, Lawrence hollowed out the ceiling space in-between the existing beams above the dining room and kitchen, which also makes for an interesting ceiling detail.

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The space in between beams was hollowed out to create more headroom in the dining area, which is located a few steps above the living room.

Semi-detached kitchen extension

The rear of the house underwent some reconfiguration. The former kitchen and bedroom are
now one larger kitchen with a generous kitchen island that runs along its length. The addition of high stools makes it a great place to have breakfast or grab supper.

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The new kitchen with a generous island makes it a conducive space for breakfast, as well as for a family cookout.

Semi-detached kitchen ideas

With a new kitchen that has been designed to meet their needs, the couple find themselves cooking more and also baking with the kids. Sliding doors run the length of the kitchen and allow the kitchen and dining room to become one seamless space or to be enclosed when required.

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Curved elements – from balustrades and door frames to the kitchen island and ceiling hollows, create an interesting aesthetic and take their cue from the existing form of the second storey mezzanine that overlooks the living area.

Semi-detached extension

By extending the footprint of the original house towards the rear, Lawrence carved out more space for the parents’ room that is located beyond the kitchen.

The room enjoys a lot of privacy, has direct access to the garden and its own attached bathroom. Being on the first storey also makes it more convenient for the elderly parents to head out for their daily exercise.

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The existing brown timber ceiling was given a coat of white paint, which totally transforms the space.

There are three bedrooms on the second storey. The two boys share a room, while their sister has her own room.

An all-white palette for the daughter’s attached bathroom gives a fresh and airy feel.

White bathroom tiles

The master bedroom overlooks the front of the house and the park opposite. Lawrence extended the existing balcony with an additional lower tier above the car porch roof to capitalise on this vantage point.

A grey-white-black scheme gives the master bathroom a clean and elegant look.

The bed has been reoriented to face the balcony and the park, so that the homeowners can wake up to a view of greenery. Replacing the old wardrobe is a new walk-in wardrobe that is appropriately located just outside the master bathroom.

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The wife’s study area is located within the master bedroom and slit windows offer a view of the living room below.

6 Months renovation

The family moved back into their home in November 2022 after a six-month renovation. Looking at the end result, the homeowners are glad that they went with the renovation option.

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The dark interior is now bright and welcoming.

As is common with rebuilding projects, there is a tendency to maximise the gross plot ratio, which results in houses that have limited outdoor open spaces.

“I am so glad that we are able to retain the generous garden spaces that the family enjoys so much,” shares the couple.

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