September 2018 Square Rooms Magazine

Square Rooms magazine featured the Tea House Behind in their September 2018 edition! Their article “Urban Zen” includes a walk-through of the full flat. Do drop us an email enquiry if you would like to know more about our work!


“Urban Zen”
Traditional Japanese design influences get a modern update in this cosy and serene four-room apartment.

There’s something tranquil about Japanese interiors. This is perhaps why they have become one of the most popular design styles amongst homeowners these days. Those who subscribe to the design philosophy of such interiors favour simplicity over excess. Minimalist and simple, it is exactly what the homeowners of this four-room BTO flat in Whampoa Dew wanted for their new home.

Occupied by two young professionals, the Japanese-style abode was created with the help of interior design firm Studio Super Safari. Devoid of over-the-top details, the space features essential elements of the Japanese-inspired design aesthetic that places importance on line, form, space and material.

In addition to the uncomplicated furnishings and fittings, simplicity is extended to the walls as well. Every vertical surface of the home is free from decorative items and attention-grabbing pieces that may have otherwise added bulk to the space. Not only that, the colour and material choices further enhance the Zen-like ambience. This can be seen through the muted brown tones and use of natural materials like wood and bamboo that establish a connection with nature to develop a peaceful sanctuary for the homeowners.

One of the main requirements the homeowners had for the living room was to have tatami mats and futons as well as pillows and low tables in the room. Meanwhile, an alcove made up of slatted timber panels takes up residence alongside the room’s floor-to-ceiling windows. Explaining the one-of-a-kind design feature – which is also his favourite part of the home – Studio Super Safari’s architect Kok Fong explains, “We wanted to give the homeowners a comfortable space where they can luxuriate in, no matter if they’re by themselves or entertaining friends and family.”

Kitted out with tatami mats that were custom-made and shipped over from Japan, the alcove was designed at a slant so that the owners could watch the television at a comfortable angle without being cut off by the edge of the timber panels.

As the homeowners don’t cook often, their designers decided to knock down the perimeter walls of the kitchen, immediately letting in more light and widening the space. While the space was predominantly occupied by a combination of white and wood tones, the textured grey backsplash provides a striking contrast.

The immediate area next to the large white quartz dining table saw the installation of another series of timber slatted panels. “As the kitchen and dining spaces are located right by the entryway, these panels provide a partial separation so that people eating at the dining table don’t have to be in direct view of those walking in and out of the home,” says Kok Fong.

In the master bedroom, the designers employed a restrained colour palette complemented by a pared down design to result in a clean and minimalist look. With the owners not wanting a traditional bed frame, an elevated platform was installed. At a height of 60cm, the 2.6m ceiling height was reduced to 2m.

In an adjacent room, a generous walk-in wardrobe was carved out. Similar to the master boudoir, dark wood laminates were also used on the built-in carpentry. “Compared to the cheery light-coloured tones in the outer spaces, we used this particular colour in these two rooms to give the space a cosy and relaxed vibe,” Kok Fong explains. Meanwhile, original swing doors were swapped out in favour of custom-built sliding doors. By doing so, the master bedroom and walk-in wardrobe are afforded privacy when needed.

By reducing the interiors and all accompanying elements to just the bare essentials, what results is a clean and uncomplicated home that embodies a poignant relationship between the natural and the man-made environment. And through the reinforcement of the idea that an uncluttered space offers peace of mind, the homeowners are ultimately afforded with a space that feels calm and relaxed.

[“Urban Zen”, in Square Rooms, issue 161, September 2018 (Singapore: Media Group, 2018), pp. 96-103.]

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