It gave the owners the opportunity to install floor-to-ceiling fixtures and also create an overhead light feature with strips of wood.
“When my husband and I first walked into our home, our first impression was that the ceiling was really, really high,” says Elaine, who recently renovated this elegant condo apartment at Principal Garden. “I came in knowing that it would be quite high because the ceilings in condos are typically taller than in HDB flats, but I didn’t expect that it would be about 3 meters tall.”
Seeing an opportunity in this particular feature, Elaine was inspired to maximise the extra vertical room with some suggestions of her own. Her initial plan? To have a loft built in the apartment’s designated study area. However, this idea ultimately didn’t come to fruition.
“I had proposed this idea to the two Notion of W designers whom we worked with, Wein and Grace, but they advised against going ahead with it,” says Elaine. To find out why, we had a chat with Elaine who also shared more about the renovation process that led to her highly-personalised couple’s nest.
About herself and her home
Elaine (E): This is the second house that I’ve bought with my husband. We got our first home, which was a 4-room HDB flat, back when we were in our early 20s. At that point, we believed in having a space that’s simple and homely. But for our second house, we spent a little more time and money designing it because we wanted a more distinctive interior this time around.
I told Wein and Elaine that what I wanted was a home that carries elements from both of our favourite aesthetics – my husband prefers a Japanese Zen vibe, while I like Scandinavian interiors, so the creative process was really about coming up with a clean, contemporary space with elements that reflect our respective design tastes.
On making over the communal areas
E: Working with Wein and Grace was an interactive process – they listened to our ideas, thought about them, and then gave their suggestions; there was two-way communication between us, and that’s how some of the more unique features in our home came to be.
For example, the feature ceiling in the living room was Wein’s idea and that came about because my husband mentioned that he would like some wood elements around the house.
What’s really special about it are the lights embedded within the strips. We were initially quite sceptical about having these lights as the only source of illumination in the communal areas aside from the overhead lamp at the dining table, but they turned out to be bright enough; the lights can also be dimmed or brightened when we’re working in the living room.
The living room isn’t very large, and I do not like clutter as well, so our selection of furniture was kept quite sparse. That said, we definitely paid attention to the pieces that we bought, like the modular Playground sofa from Danish Design and the Qeeboo Rabbit chair from Journey East.
On most days, the Rabbit chair will be in the balcony beside the living area where there’s a customised shelf that holds my husband’s plant collection. We also have a very good view from our unit, and that’s why we wanted to keep the balcony as a simple space where we’re able to read or simply sit and chat.
One feature that came with the house which we kept is the marble flooring – it’s of a good quality, so we felt that it would be a waste to replace it. We did tell Wein and Grace to take the colour of the flooring into consideration when proposing the neutral tones for the surrounding spaces. That way, the overall look would turn out consistent, which it did.
About the entryway’s renovation
E: I don’t know how long the entryway is exactly, but it’s definitely fairly long and not to mention pretty wide as well. Wein and Grace felt that it would be a waste if we didn’t do anything with it, so they proposed a rather clever idea that adds functionality to the walkway but doesn’t chew up too much space.
I think most designers would typically suggest building a shoe cabinet into the space, but Wein and Grace took the idea one step further by removing the existing door to the kitchen and replacing it with a sliding glass cabinet that doubles as the new kitchen door.
I feel that it’s really cleverly done because blending the two built-ins together ensures they look like one continuous structure with nothing sticking out into the walkway.
Another feature that I really like about this built-in is the backing behind the display shelf. Wein added a piece of speckled translucent mirror glass and I like how it looks when the light shines on the surface and bounces off the ornaments on display; it’s these little touches that give the entire structure more character and allow everything to come together so nicely.
On changes made to the master bedroom
E: The current master bedroom was created by merging two rooms, and I like how this change gives us more space now. If we had left them as separate areas, there wouldn’t be a suite-like feel to the master bedroom. Our bed is located where the previous study room was, whereas the walk-in wardrobe occupies the original master bedroom’s area.
How the walk-in wardrobe is configured is very simple and efficient – there’s storage on both sides of the space, the left wardrobe is my husband’s and the right is mine. Wein was also able to incorporate a mirror into the walk-in wardrobe’s design, and I like how he did so without eating up much room.
Initially, I wasn’t too receptive to the idea of having the grey wall behind the platform bed because I like all things bright and cheery [laughs], but in the end, I decided to give it a shot – and I think it works. Because of the tall windows, there’s a lot of natural light entering the master bedroom, so even if there are darker tones, I don’t think the space will end up looking dreary.
About the master bedroom study’s renovation
E: As I said, one of my original plans was to have a loft in the house because of the high ceiling. In fact, another renovation firm had actually proposed a design. Just imagine, there would have been a cosy platform with a reading nook as well as stairs going up, which was what made it look really good on paper.
It’s why I brought up the idea to Wein in the first place. He listened, gave it some thought, and then came back to me saying that a loft would make the space feel smaller, and maybe even a little claustrophobic. That was when I took a look at the plans again and realised that having a loft might not be so ideal after all.
In the end, we opted to build a private study in the bedroom instead; it’s not huge and only one person can use it at a time – but that’s a conscious decision. Back in our previous home, I always found myself working at the dining area even though we had two huge desks in the study, so we only really needed a personal cubby hole for my husband, which I can then use from time-to-time.
Wein and Grace were also nice enough to adapt the design of the study’s metal sliding door to accommodate a strange personal habit of mine.
My husband is an early riser, and he often heads to the study to get his work done. Back in our old home, I would get him to leave the door slightly ajar to let some light come through – it’s a security kind of thing [laughs] and we told Wein about it. I didn’t think too much about mentioning this detail, but Wein had actually taken it into consideration and incorporated a small vent into the door’s panel.
I really like how well thought out this little feature is – not only is the vent located at a height where the light doesn’t shine directly into my face when I’m lying down on the bed, it also keeps the bedroom ventilated when the study door is shut.
To sum up
E: Both my husband and I love our home very much. We love it for many reasons – the location and view are great, but what really seals it for us is the design of the house. We’re happy to return home every day after work, and we’re glad that we were able to move in before the Circuit Breaker started because it made working from home so much more comfortable.
Both Wein and Grace definitely did a great job on the renovation and being able to have a home that feels this personal is a testament to how closely Notion of W listened to our requests.
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