An open-minded and a lively exchange of ideas between the homeowners and the interior designer led to many pleasant design outcomes in this walk-up apartment.

When it comes to apartments of a certain vintage, it takes discerning owners to recognise what needs to go and what to retain to suit their lifestyle and aesthetic preferences while preserving the place’s character.

This was exactly the approach that 33-year-old Edward Seah and 31-year-old Joel Cheong adopted for this 37-year-old walk-up apartment. Armed with a detailed brief in the form of PowerPoint slides addressing the aesthetics and specific requirements for each area within the home, the doctor and business analyst duo reached out to Bowerman Interior Planner.

Who Lives Here? A couple in their 30s
Home: A three-turned-one-bedroom walk-up apartment at Keng Lee Road
Size: 1,006 sq ft
Interior Designer: Bowerman Interior Planner

House Tour: Mid-Century Modern 3-Room Walk-Up Apartment nearby Newton Food Centre
The study area is tucked away from the main circulation. A band of dark grey tiles demarcate the step arising from an existing plinth that could not be hacked.

“We wanted the space to have warmth, to feel lived-in without too much clutter, and to reflect our personalities. It should also be as open as possible,” say the homeowners.

Among the elements that they wanted to keep were the solid oak timber strip flooring, the common bathroom and some cabinets. They also preferred loose furniture over built-in carpentry, allowing the home to evolve over time.

The colours and materials in the living area complement that of the dining room. Walnut-framed sofa and armchairs are paired with a dark green wall that invokes nature
The colours and materials in the living area complement that of the dining room. Walnut-framed sofa and armchairs are paired with a dark green wall that invokes nature.

Style-wise, interior planner Ian Lai took his cue from Edward and Joel’s furniture wish list, which conveyed an inclination towards a mid-century modern with details such as pencil legs and fluted glass.

“Using this as a starting point, we presented various mood boards before eventually arriving at a scheme that is a blend of mid-century modern, bohemian, Scandinavian and luxe,” Ian explains.

One of the memorabilia and collectibles displayed in the home

House Tour: Mid-Century Modern 3-Room Walk-Up Apartment nearby Newton Food Centre

This is expressed through a combination of materials such as walnut, marble, rattan and metallic accents, together with colours such as grey, plum, sand and white that would complement dark green.

The key is not to overdo one material or colour and for the spaces to remain distinct from one another while coming together as a cohesive whole.

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House Tour: Mid-Century Modern 3-Room Walk-Up Apartment nearby Newton Food Centre

A vintage typewriter adds an old world charm

A shoe cabinet and bench settee were two things that the homeowners requested at the entrance foyer.

Positioned on either side of the main entrance, the duo create an interesting dialogue with their timber materials, wavy profile and rattan mesh. The top of the shoe cabinet is also where the homeowners place their keys and display their art.

House Tour: Mid-Century Modern 3-Room Walk-Up Apartment nearby Newton Food Centre
The dining area has a south eastern-facing Juliet balcony with full-height sliding doors that receives plenty of morning sunlight.

In their original brief, Edward and Joel had initially wanted the study to occupy the space immediately to the right of the entrance. They appreciate Ian for challenging their preliminary plan and convincing them to have the dining area here instead.

Ian elaborates on the two main reasons for doing so: “Firstly, a study inevitably involves a plethora of items such as desks, chairs, devices, stationery, documents and cables. A dining room, on the other hand, is far less cluttered and, therefore, more pleasing to the eye. Secondly, a dining table can be styled with floral centrepieces to enhance the welcoming feel upon crossing the threshold.”

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House Tour: Mid-Century Modern 3-Room Walk-Up Apartment nearby Newton Food Centre
The kitchen relates to the dining room decorated with wood and plants. A dark green, fingerprint-proof laminate is paired with a walnut laminate.

Finding the perfect dining table also reaffirmed their decision to make this swap.

“We wanted a live edge table and were looking at the more common suar wood options. But when we saw this mango wood piece, we fell in love with its unique grain and texture,” shares the couple.

It was the first furniture piece they purchased for the home, even though it was longer than what the dining area could accommodate. The offcuts ended up being repurposed as bedside tables.

House Tour: Mid-Century Modern 3-Room Walk-Up Apartment nearby Newton Food Centre

Apart from space for plants and storage for board games, Edward and Joel also requested display areas for their Lego and souvenir collections

Separating the dining and living areas is a trio of custom-built open shelves. Each one is self-supported by a metal pole that is deliberately positioned off-centre. Besides being a spatial divider, the shelves also serve as a “gallery of memories”, where Edward and Joel display collectibles and memorabilia from their travels.

The use of shelves as spatial markers is repeated in the open kitchen. Full-height cabinets provide a backdrop for the shoe cabinet at the entrance foyer while screening the kitchen washing area and any mess from the entrance foyer.

The cohesive material and colour palette unifies the interior spaces, with each flowing into the other while retaining their individual uniqueness

House Tour: Mid-Century Modern 3-Room Walk-Up Apartment nearby Newton Food Centre

Counter-height cabinets run along the window sill, then turn 90 degrees in an L-shaped, back-to-back configuration with the bookcase in the adjacent open study.

Tucked away from the home’s central circulation, this open study is the perfect work-from-home space. Any clutter is also less visible than if it was positioned right next to the main entrance instead of swapping it with the dining area.

When Edward and Joel purchased the apartment, the three original bedrooms had been remodelled into one bedroom by the previous owner.

House Tour: Mid-Century Modern 3-Room Walk-Up Apartment nearby Newton Food Centre
The centrepiece of the walk-in wardrobe is the pole system open closet.

However, a wall and two doors separated the master bedroom from the walk-in wardrobe. Demolishing these opens up the space and allows natural light from the bedroom window to filter through to the walk-in wardrobe.

A set of fluted glass sliding doors between the two spaces offers privacy when desired without compromising on the openness or blocking out the natural light.

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House Tour: Mid-Century Modern 3-Room Walk-Up Apartment nearby Newton Food Centre
Excess cuts from the mango wood dining table top were used to create bedside tables on black hairpin legs.

Ian was mindful of admitting as much light as possible.

Fluted glass panels are also used in the two small top-hung windows in the attached master bathroom. These are its only source of natural light.

House Tour: Mid-Century Modern 3-Room Walk-Up Apartment nearby Newton Food Centre
From the main spaces to the bathrooms, the look of the home eschews trends in favour of timelessness.

The homeowners were very hands-on throughout the entire design process, which took three months, followed by another three months for the renovation, which cost $85,000, plus an additional $25,000 to $30,000 for the furniture and furnishings.

House Tour: Mid-Century Modern 3-Room Walk-Up Apartment nearby Newton Food Centre

Dark green marble-look wall tiles give the master bathroom a touch of luxury

Although they have lived in their new home for almost one-and-a-half years since April 2021, the interior still continues to change.

As Ian puts it: “Good design does not stop when a project is completed. It is like a living organism that continues to evolve and grow with the people living inside it.”