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This 2-Bedder Home’s Kitchen Was Tiny. Now, It’s 50% Smaller

Far from reducing its usefulness, downsizing the kitchen of this two-bedder condo created greater overall functionality.

It’s no big secret: proper space planning is one of the most important steps in the renovation process. So, working out a suitable layout was naturally the first order of business when interior designer Lucas Ngan started conceptualising the new look of this 86 sqm Balestier condominium with its two owners.

“Both the husband and wife are very close friends of mine and they’re incredibly adventurous people, especially when it comes to new experiences,” says Lucas. “In fact, my friend was very hands-on during the renovation. He even changed the bedroom door handles personally because he wanted to learn how to do it!”

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View this project by Weiken.com

Considering the nature of their personalities, it’s no surprise then that the couple were more than willing to embrace Lucas’ use of 3D modelling and Virtual Reality (VR) during the space planning process for their home.

With this approach came efficiency as it allowed Lucas to “identify potential design challenges in advance”. But more importantly, creating VR mock-ups also gave both Lucas as well as the owners the confidence to shrink the size of the apartment’s kitchen by half because it allowed them to visualise the end result even before works begun.

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The condo’s floor plan before (left) and after (right) the renovation.

“One of the key drivers of the design process was to find out the best allocation of space between the living room and the kitchen/dining space, and by using VR, we were able to decide on an 8:2 split between the two areas. This ratio was determined by quantifying the amount of time the owners would spend in each of these zones,” explains Lucas.

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The outside (left) and inside (right) of the kitchen before the renovation.

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Built at a higher-than-usual, but comfortable height for the homeowners, the island also doubles as a breakfast counter for them.

To achieve this golden ratio between cooking and living zones, the exterior walls around the kitchen first had to be demolished, after which an island was built into the resulting space as a centrepiece.

“Upon entering the house, you’ll see the household shelter on your right, which we covered up with wood-look laminates and mirrors, then there’s the island,” says Lucas. “Although it’s tucked into one corner of the communal area, it’s still fairly close to the centre of the house so it’s a very good spot for guests to gather around.”

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Apart from demarcating the new boundaries of the kitchen, a set of discreet tinted glass doors were also installed to create a new entrance, which was relocated from its original position along the passageway.

Meanwhile, on the inside, the kitchen received a total revamp with its original built-ins swapped out for a new set of drawers and cabinets – including a small nook for a washing machine. “Since the yard is in the same space as the kitchen, it made sense to set aside some space for it (the washing machine) to give the owners convenience when they’re doing the laundry.”

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The living room prior to the renovation.

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Re-orientating the living room’s configuration to face the windows proved to be the right decision as it “created a more elongated look” according to Lucas.

As the owners requested to have a contemporary Nordic vibe for their home, Lucas fulfilled their wish by putting together a white-and-wood look for the living area, accompanied by modular furniture (specifically, a sofa with a flip-up back and an accordion chair) as well as vinyl tiles with a concrete lookalike finish for a touch of warmth.

“If you notice, there are also several oriental touches as well, like a folding screen and calligraphy art,” says Lucas. “These were gifts from the owners’ family and friends. At first, I was adamant about adding them to the living room, but after looking at the final result, I think they add an interesting, personal touch to what would have been a more conventional space.”

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The master bedroom before the renovation.

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To make up for the lack of space for side tables and night lights, the owners had a lamp installed above their bed, which also has a thicker headboard for placing belongings.

In comparison to the living area, designing the master bedroom was a more straightforward process. “The layout of the bedroom was kept mostly the same; the bed is in the same spot and so are the wardrobe cabinets because those were the best positions to have them,” says Lucas. “Unfortunately, we weren’t able to do away with the bay window because it’s structural.”

Lucas’ solution to the obstacle was to build a makeup desk and storage compartments over it. Says Lucas: “It was the most strategic line of action to take because that would mean having less cabinets, which would take up even more space in the bedroom, and making use of what would have been a hindrance.”

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While the master en suite’s original marble surfaces were kept, its vanity was completely revamped with a new basin, storage mirror and a granite counter.

Despite being an experienced interior designer, the two-and-a-half-months long process of renovating this apartment was an eye-opener for Lucas himself.

“Integrating VR into my personal workflow was a learning experience. I feel that it’s going to be a critical part of my creative process as well as the interior design industry from now on. With a VR mock-up, I’m able to confidently design a home that feels comfortable 5 to 10 years on,” he says.

“Also, I think it’ll give owners the assurance to make major changes to their homes, even if it involves reducing their kitchen’s size by half. [laughs]”

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