Open-concept Clementi BTO flat with whiskey bar ambience

Open-concept Clementi BTO flat with whiskey bar ambience
PHOTO: Home & Decor

Sometimes, a key statement piece can be inspiration for the interior design of a home.

WHO: A couple in their 30s

HOME: BTO flat in Clementi Avenue

SIZE: 1,184sqf

Homeowners Dave Lua and Tan Ai Ling chanced upon a dining table from Crate & Barrel and fell in love with it. They decided to buy it and have their interior designer friend, Tommy Lai from tld., design their living and dining spaces around the dining centrepiece.

“We have friends over quite frequently, so it made sense to have a large dining table as the heart of the home where everyone can gather,” Dave explains.

Apart from the dining table, the international trade manager couple pretty much gave Tommy carte blanche, but they did express an aversion to “Japanesque or Scandinavian” styles. This meant staying away from a light- coloured interior, which suited this particular apartment just fine.

“When I first visited the flat, I found the interior extremely bright because of the large windows and unblocked surroundings, so I proposed darker and warmer shades to help mitigate the glare,” says Tommy.

“Besides, the homeowners are whisky lovers, so a darker palette also adds to the whisky bar ambience,” he adds. The result is an industrial-style home that combines influences from Lower Manhattan warehouse lofts with subtle hints of a whisky bar.

Come to the table

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    “We have friends over quite frequently, so it made sense to have a large dining table as the heart of the home where everyone can gather.”

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    Wood reclaimed from Brazilian telephone poles add character and a sustainable sensibility.

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    Complementing the dining centrepiece is a row of Can lights by Studio David Pompa. These pendant lights are barro negro pottery, a special pottery style from the small village of San Bartolo Coyotepec, Oaxaca, that is characterised by its black hue.

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    “It makes for a good conversation piece without overpowering the space or stealing the limelight from the dining table,” says Tommy.

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    Dave and Ai Ling moved in at the beginning of 2017 and love the various spaces where they can live, work and entertain.

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    As the couple entertain quite frequently, an acoustic felt-lined wall takes the place of a conventional feature wall to avoid noise complaints from neighbours.

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    Shades of grey fit in well with the dark interior and brown furnishings.

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    A muted palette was selected for the master bedroom to create a calm and cosy environment. The Treku Bel bed and Folks Wonderbox coffee tables, used as bedside tables, are from Grafunkt.

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    This painting by a Vietnamese street artist was a gift from the couple’s friend, and takes pride of place against a blue wall in the hallway leading to the master bedroom.

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    The couple had no qualms about the black kitchen wall tiles, but it took some getting used to for their parents.

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    Tommy used pure white tiles to create a hyper sterile aesthetic that contrasts with the darker living spaces. The experience that he was going for was one of “stepping into a sterile box at the end of a work day to wash away your tiredness and worries”.

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    A study desk from Vietnam-based British design team Square Roots also doubles as a dressing table. The Lamb chairs feature black steel frames with slate fabrics and raw oak backs.

By removing a short section of the wall dividing the kitchen and dining and living rooms, the three areas became one big open-concept space within which the Phoenix dining table is the centrepiece.

Fabricated from reclaimed Brazilian telephone poles, its rustic quality is the perfect complement to the raw cement flooring.

Tommy did away with the original study corner and reoriented the living room layout, so the sofa now faces the windows.

“There is such an awesome view of the surrounding greenery, all the way to Bukit Timah Hill and beyond. It would be such a pity not to take advantage of this million-dollar view,” he exclaims. The Greenwich sofa from Commune is arranged parallel to the dining table and provides a notional spatial segregation between the living and dining areas.

Slight modifications were made to the walls around the kitchen, yard and common bathroom to better accommodate both formal and practical requirements.

Dark wood panelling is clad over the exterior of the common bathroom wall facing the dining and living room, and continues all the way to the kitchen. This creates a feature wall alongside the breakfast nook, as well as conceals the large refrigerator and air-conditioner trunking.

One bedroom adjacent to the master bedroom has been converted into a walk-in wardrobe that is now part of the master suite.

By repositioning the original bedroom and bathroom doors, Tommy created a transition space within the master bedroom that serves as a threshold leading to the walk-in wardrobe, master bathroom and sleeping area.

The pared-down aesthetics of the home heighten an awareness of the materials and detailing, as well as the relationship between spaces. There is also an appreciation of what lies outside the home.

As Tommy puts it: “Interior architecture should not be limited to what is within the box. It should also embrace the possibilities that the surroundings may bring to the living spaces.”

WHERE TO GO: tld., tommy_lai@me.com

This article was first published in Home & Decor.

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