4-Room Woodlands Flat's Reno Revolved Around Owners' Cats and Parrots
This home is as much for the animals as well as the owners!
With their vastly different needs, one could say that it’s tougher to design a home around pets than it is for children. But that certainly didn’t stop these homeowners from wanting a space that was not just catered to them, but to their pets – two cats and two parrots – as well.
View this project by Weiken.com
“This house wasn’t just a home for them (the owners), but also their pets,” says Lucas, their designer from Weiken.com. “We needed to find a balance between the homeowners’ own needs, as well as their pets – and as someone who has only ever kept terrapins, for me, this was quite an enlightening project to be a part of.”
At 106 sqm, this larger-than-average 4-room resale flat gave Lucas the flexibility to experiment with different layouts – but it also came with a few odd corners that proved to be a challenge. Keep scrolling to see how Lucas navigated through these obstacles to create a home that is as much for the pets as it is for his clients!
About the homeowners and their home
The house’s floorplan, pre-renovation
Lucas (L): This house is quite old; if I recall, it was built around 1996. There are a few odd corners here and there, so other than the usual renovation works, we needed to think of ways to fully utilise every inch of the space.
The house’s floorplan, post-renovation
Some of the walls had already been hacked by the previous owners – so from the start, we already had a wide, open space that could accommodate the homeowners and their pets. It helps that the house is bigger than your usual 4-room flat – if I remember correctly, it’s around 106 sqm.
Other than their pets, we obviously needed to cater to the homeowners’ needs. They’re a young couple living in their first home, so finding a way to future-proof this house was quite important. It’s partly why we went with a darker colour theme – I think the look is more timeless, and it’s easier for the owners to find loose furnishings that match.
WATCH: Weiken.com designer Lucas takes viewers on a tour around this home
About the living room
The living and dining area, pre-renovation
L: The living room was actually smaller last time; the kitchen was supposed to take up part of this space. The previous owners were actually the ones who opened up the space – we just decided to retain the layout and keep the space wide.
The living and dining area, post-renovation
My client was actually the one who suggested building a bird enclosure around this niche. He has been keeping parrots for a while, but they’ve always been in those small, metal cages – so we figured, why not use this entire space as a bird cage? It’s the best way for us to make use of this area, since it’s too small to fit in a study table or a cabinet.
Figuring out how to build this was quite challenging – after all, it’s not everyday you get to build a bird cage. We had a tough time trying to tie the branch to the ceiling, and we also needed to think of the best materials to use, since the birds poop a lot.
Eventually, we decided that metal frames and glass panes were the best materials to use, since they’re sturdy and also allow easy maintenance.
“The owners also intentionally left a wall empty so that they can put up a playground for their cats,” says Lucas.
Overall, we find that the impression you get upon entering the home is important. Because they weren’t heavy cookers, we prioritised accordingly to let the living space be more comfortable. There was a lot of balancing to ensure that the functional aspects were tailored to them.
On renovating the kitchen/service yard
The service yard, pre-renovation
L: Areas like the kitchen weren’t as important to the homeowners; they don’t really cook much, so they were willing to make do with a smaller kitchen to keep the living room open.
So, we turned the service yard into their kitchen. It was quite a challenge since this area doesn’t even exceed 3 sqm – but somehow, we were able to squeeze in a washer, dryer, kitchen sink, microwave, dish rack, hood, oven, and two hobs. There’s even a Steigen laundry rack here.
Doing this didn’t leave us enough room for a dishwasher, which the owners also wanted. So, we figured, why not put it outside? There was more than enough space for a dry kitchen there – which we thought would be a good place for simple food prep, like making a cup of coffee.
After that, the dining table and kitchen island followed. Putting the dining table parallel to the ceiling beam was a natural choice as it kept the overall look seamless, while the island was positioned the other way to allow easy access to its built-in niche, which is where all the condiments are.
Designing the master bedroom
The master bedroom, pre-renovation
L: The cats love to sleep with their owners, so we figured that they could use additional resting spots. You can’t really see it in this photo, but there’s a big niche in the master bedroom that we thought we could make use of by creating a little nook for them to hide in.
Plus, the carpentry gives the owners additional storage space, and conceals the aircon piping to keep the look seamless.
Here, we played around with dark colours to bring up a cosier vibe. Essentially, we wanted a timeless colour palette so that they can play around with the furnishings if they ever get bored of it.
About the study and walk-in wardrobe
The study/walk-in wardrobe, pre-renovation
L: Before this [renovation], the walls between the master and junior bedroom had already been hacked – while this gave us a larger master bedroom space, you also had the bathroom facing the bed, which is a feng shui no-no.
So, we experimented with a few layouts and found that the current one – with a divider in the middle of the room – is the most exciting one. The divider also has a functional purpose – it has wardrobe space that the owners use to store their daily wear.
And since we don’t have a study yet, we created a small one here. Luckily, the owners don’t really bring work home, so they didn’t need a huge work area.
The main wardrobe is built flush to the wall, since a conventional buy-off-the-shelf type won’t be enough for all their clothes. We ended up with quite a lot of space – but I think it’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it but not have it, since the latter will just lead to clutter.
Renovating the master ensuite
L: With the bathroom having your traditional HDB layout, the space inside is really tight. So, we thought of bringing the basin outside, which we placed on the other side of the divider.
In a sense, the space was reconfigured in a way to create a very nice private area. There’s a vanity here, as well as lots of storage space for things like make-up and skincare products – it’s essentially the owners’ ‘dry area’, where they get ready to go out.
Inside the bathroom itself, we used the same tiles for both the floors and wall. We were mainly going for a clean look throughout the space, and I thought this particular design did that very well. In fact, I think we waited one to two months just for it to come back in stock.
To sum up
L: What really stood out to me about this project was how the owners went above and beyond for their pets. Usually, people would include small features here and there, but these ones really upped their game to ensure that their pets can live there comfortably, while at the same time balancing their own needs and budget as well.
Overall, I’m really happy with the outcome. Every inch of the space was fully utilised – it’s not really a minimalist house, but I would say that we managed to incorporate the principles of minimalism. Each wall and corner serves some function – which I see as a good result, since the shape of the house was quite a challenge at the start.
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