THE HOUSE THAT GREW (a metre taller)
October 2018 Home & Decor Magazine

We are very happy that our project: the House That Grew (a metre taller) was featured in Home & Decor magazine’s October 2018 edition. Look out for the article entitled “Storybook Interiors” to catch yet another glimpse into one of our favourite projects till date – this time drawing from references to the storybook adventures of Alice, following the rabbit, into Wonderland. Do drop us an email enquiry if you would like to know more about our work!


“Storybook Interiors”
You do not need to fall down a rabbit hole to have an adventure in this home, as Lynn Tan discovers.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland begins with Alive being bored by a book that her sister is reading to her. She gets distracted by a white rabbit and, while following him, falls down the infamous rabbit hole, after which begins a series of adventures in a fantasy world.

Likewise, when doctor-lawyer couple Lin Diyan and Desiree Tan were shortlisting interior designers for their home, they sat through some run-of-the-mill presentations, until Liew Kok Fong from Studio Super Safari came along with some very novel and interesting proposals. “It was his ideas and also his sincerity that won us over,” says Diyan.

During the course of the project, the couple had many ideas. “It was Kok Fong who helped distil this hotchpotch of ideas and bring everything together,” Desiree recalls. Unconventional and bold design decisions were made because they addressed the homeowners’ brief requirements and lifestyle needs. “The scheme is no style-driven but rather, it is generated by the clients’ personalities, which should come through in the interior design,” emphasises Kok Fong, who is also an architect.

Here are some intriguing aspects of the home that may just make visitors feel like Alice in Wonderland.

Up, Up and Away
Just as Alice grew after taking a bite of a special cake, and again after drinking a mystery cordial, the apartment also “grew” vertically. While stripping away the ceiling boards, the renovation team uncovered an additional metre of space that housed the air-conditioning ducts and various pipes. “It was a pleasant surprise and the extra headroom makes the space feel more spacious,” says Desiree.

The pipes were subsequently concealed within the walls and they did away with the central ducted air-conditioning system. “We wanted to retain the exposed red brick wall above the original ceiling, but was concerned that it may be too overpowering, so we cleaned up the gaps and painted it white instead. This helps to tone down the effect, while retaining a sense of authenticity and connection to the home’s past,” explains Kok Fong.

Lofty Playground
Inspired by the discovery of the additional ceiling space, Kok Fong introduced a loft in the study. A platform was erected to create the loft, with a 2.1m space below. A study desk was constructed beneath the platform, and pedestal shelves double as steps leading up to the loft. The structure, which Kok Fong likens to a “tree house made of built-in furniture”, injects an element of fun and playfulness in a typically serious study environment.

The loft can be used for storage purposes or as a quiet corner for reading or chilling out. It also provides access to a “secret chamber”, which is actually additional storage space hidden in the ceiling directly above the corridor leading to the rooms. A pull-out shoe rack is integrated into the shallower section, while the other section is deep enough to accommodate suitcases and other larger items.

Through the Looking Glass
The bedroom wall had to be moved inwards to carve out more space for the walk-in-wardrobe. As the homeowners do not spend much time in the bedroom, except to hang out in the living room or dining area, they were fine with the smaller bedroom. “It is all about priorities,” Kok Fong points out.

A sliding door installed at one end of the corridor facing the living and dining rooms allows the walk-in wardrobe to be closed off, in order to create one large private suite including the bedroom, study and bathrooms.

The mirrored wardrobe doors conjure up the effect of a visual mirror maze, a Hall of Mirrors so to speak. What has been created in this apartment is not just sturdy functionality but also fixtures and elements that have a touch of whimsy. Who says storybook interiors have to be absurd?

[“Storybook Interiors”, in Home & Decor, October 2018 (Singapore: SPH Magazines, 2018), pp. 90-5.]

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