Style and Stature


Singapore Tatler Homes - - JUN/JUL 2018 -

A look of un­der­stated lux­ury de­fines the sleek de­sign of this fam­ily res­i­dence

“This project was rather spe­cial to me,” says Ed Ong, founder of Dwell In­te­rior De­sign, on the makeover of this three-storey semi-de­tached es­tate. “It was one of the few in a year where the clients gave us pretty much full rein.” The own­ers, who have three young chil­dren, run an es­tab­lished F&B busi­ness. They wanted a mod­ern con­tem­po­rary space en­veloped in quiet opu­lence, but gave the vet­eran de­signer am­ple space to ex­er­cise his cre­ative free­dom. Ong was quick to con­coct a clear vi­sion in­spired by the theme of the de­sign: “I would ask my­self, what’s the story of the in­te­rior? Which im­me­di­ately begs the ques­tion, what are the main ma­te­ri­als and fin­ishes I want to use to com­mu­ni­cate this? A de­signer can­not think about the con­cept with­out think­ing about this.”


Wal­nut was one of the choice ma­te­ri­als se­lected for its warmth, re­fine­ment, and time­less­ness—its deep rich hue stood out against the neu­tral back­drop of light mar­ble floors and cream-coloured fabric walls on the first floor. The semi-de­tached house had an elon­gated pro­file with an en­tire length of wall run­ning across the in­te­rior. Ong dec­o­rated this area with wal­nut col­umns, each one metic­u­lously hand-built with two long and two short sup­port­ing mem­bers. This ar­range­ment was in­spired by the el­e­gant, struc­tured move­ments of the waltz and the up­right pos­ture of dancers. “The wal­nut col­umn mir­rors the phys­i­cal form of a cou­ple danc­ing in a waltz. It mir­rors two in­di­vid­u­als, feel­ing and mov­ing as one,” ex­plains Ong. “If one can imag­ine a grand ball­room where a waltz is per­formed by dozens of cou­ples, one would in­vari­ably feel a sense of grandeur. By re­peat­ing the wal­nut col­umns across the span of the walls, scale is achieved to com­mu­ni­cate the same in the home.”


An­other cat­a­lyst for the cre­ation of col­umns is the lay­out of the house. “When a space is this large with­out a pro­por­tion­ately high ceil­ing, it can feel some­what low,” shares Ong. Thus, he opted to fo­cus on ver­ti­cal de­sign el­e­ments as a coun­ter­bal­ance to cre­ate an il­lu­sion of height. Be­sides the row of wal­nut col­umns, which are also em­ployed at the stair­well on the sec­ond and third floors, the in­door wall pan­els and full-height ver­ti­cal gar­den at the en­trance boast sim­i­lar sil­hou­ettes as well. Ver­ti­cal light coves were also sculpted into the bound­ary wall by the lap pool. This mo­tif is car­ried into the gold cham­pagne-mir­rored fluted glass cladding part of the din­ing ta­ble and the bar is­land counter in the en­ter­tain­ment room. Both were cus­tom-made with whole slabs of black Cae­sar­stone, a solid and non­porous cen­tre­piece that lends a mas­cu­line so­phis­ti­ca­tion to the space. Chuck­ling, Ong re­calls the hefti­ness of the bar is­land coun­ter­top: “It was craned up be­cause they couldn’t make it up the stair­well.” The study cab­i­net—hand­made with un­even ve­neer pan­els—cues to the ver­ti­cal de­sign.


Cou­pled with the open-plan lay­out that pro­vides co­pi­ous light and ven­ti­la­tion to the ground floor, the in­te­rior main­tains a sleek look with pris­tine sur­faces and a mul­ti­tude of hid­den rooms. The wal­nut col­umns not only serve as a screen for the stair­case—these are also part of a mov­able wall that hides the en­trance to the util­ity room be­neath the stairs. What ap­pears as or­di­nary black-stained ve­neer pan­els be­side the wal­nut col­umns are doors to a walk-in shoe closet, for­merly a house­hold shel­ter and a pow­der room. Ven­ture to the en­ter­tain­ment space at the top floor, and you’ll see sim­i­lar pan­els sand­wich­ing a mounted tele­vi­sion. While the black acous­tic pan­els store AV equip­ment as a ver­ti­cal con­cealed TV con­sole, the outer wood pan­els hide a store­room to the left, and a bath­room to the right. To el­e­vate the lux­ury quo­tient of the in­te­ri­ors, Ong used fabric-tex­tured wall­cov­er­ings, a tac­tile el­e­ment that “takes mod­ern con­tem­po­rary up a notch, but is

“Style and stature was what they wanted in this home, with­out be­ing over-the-top”

still un­der­stated.” The sole struc­tural change was the re­moval of a wall on the third floor, merg­ing a lounge and a bed­room to cre­ate a larger en­ter­tain­ment space. The sec­ond floor fam­ily lounge was also re­designed as a tea room with a dis­play of Chi­nese tea sets the hus­band col­lects from around the globe. The two bed­rooms on the same storey were con­verted into a study and a chil­dren’s room with a play loft as well. “Ul­ti­mately, a good de­signer must di­rect the con­cept, the theme, and fi­nally the in­te­rior de­sign,” says Ong. “Style and stature was what they wanted in this home, with­out be­ing over-the-top. In this house, the con­cept is achieved very clearly, and it’s con­sis­tent all the way to the top. We were priv­i­leged to work with a client that al­lowed us to carry our vi­sion all the way through.”

LEFT TO RIGHT In the com­mon area, the black Cae­sar­stone din­ing ta­ble, teal arm­chairs, and dark wood touches serve as accents against a muted pal­ette PRE­VI­OUS PAGE Wal­nut col­umns con­ceal the cen­tral stair­way, while adding a sense of warmth to the abode

ABOVE Sitting in the en­ter­tain­ment room at the top floor is a glitzy bar counter that fea­tures gold fluted glass pan­els

OP­PO­SITE PAGE To cre­ate a seam­less look in the en­ter­tain­ment area, the pan­els ad­ja­cent to the TV hide the AV equip­ment, as well as a bath­room and stor­age area

LEFT TO RIGHT The mas­ter bed­room and ad­ja­cent tea room on the sec­ond floor are dec­o­rated in earthy pal­ette for a cosy am­bi­ence; smoky hues in the study and mas­ter bath cre­ate a sleek yet un­der­stated look

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