In his seven years as an interior designer, Edward Seet has worked his way through every home configuration – large, small, odd-shaped, and more. But for his latest project, he had a vested interest – his own cosy apartment at Depot Road which he shares with his wife, Karen.

The couple’s first home went on to bag a silver at this year’s Design Excellence Awards in the Best Residential Design category – for apartments under 1,000 sq ft. The awards are organised by the Interior Design Confederation Singapore.

Mr Seet, principal designer at Arche, challenged himself to make the 700 sq ft apartment feel more spacious than it is.

While the apartment was under construction, Mr Seet prepared his design based on the floor plan. “But I had to throw the ideas out when I finally stepped into the apartment, because there were just too many walls,” he recalls.

But after Mr Seet tore down some of them, a new shape emerged. He could then be more experimental, converting one of the bedrooms into an open plan walk-in wardrobe, with a curtain separating it from the main living area.

“Since it is just the two of us, we only needed one bedroom,” says Mr Seet. The couple also wanted a king-sized bed, which would have completely shrunk their already small bedroom. So what he did was create a sunken sleeping area to fit their mattress. The remaining space was turned into a small path to the windows, and he even managed to fit in storage space at the far end of the room.

“The room instantly looks bigger,” he adds. He also had sliding doors installed as a space saving measure.

Bathroom and wardrobe doors are all identical, made of solid plywood with a dark laminate finish, and running the length of the apartment. “By keeping all the doors uniform, the apartment looks more expansive,”he says. “Plus, I like things to look neat.”

Mr Seet enjoys cooking, so he made the kitchen bigger by doing away with the laundry area. A washer-dryer handles their laundry needs, and is neatly tucked behind a cabinet.

With no space for extra doors, Mr Seet designed the cabinet door to double as the kitchen door. Visitors who come are none the wiser.

Considering he cooks regularly, the kitchen looks hardly used. “I like things to be hidden away,” Mr Seet says, pulling out drawers with a customised depth to fit different items. At the touch of a button, a mechanised cooker hood rises from the countertop. “We didn’t want the conventional kind mounted from the top,” he says.

They also invested in an integrated sink dishwasher, which isn’t big, “but can accommodate a day’s dishwashing which meets our requirements. There’s no need for a big machine.”

The dining table is customised, made of quartz and set at bar counter height, connected to the kitchen counter. Because of space constraints, there is no TV console. Instead, the TV is hung from the ceiling, and Mr Seet designed a small wall recess to house TV equipment. The TV is tilted at a certain angle, so that it can be viewed from both the dining and living areas.

The monochrome look

Mrs Seet, a secretary, loves reading so her husband designed a book cabinet for her. To display his collection of design magazines, Mr Seet created an open shelf in the living room.

While she left most of the interiors to her husband, she had her own wish list. “I didn’t want too much wood, especially those with a natural stain,” she says, because she feels it looks dated. “I prefer the monochrome look.”

But her husband likes solid wood for its warmth. “We came to a compromise. I could still use wood, but it would be stained black,” he says. Since combining it with white would look too stark, he paired black with grey.

The monochrome look extends into the his and hers bathrooms. Mr Seet’s bathroom has black tiles, while his wife’s bathroom is in contrasting white.

The apartment perfectly suits their couple lifestyle for now, but when they are ready to start a family, the plan is to upgrade to a bigger apartment. What design tricks Mr Seet will pull out of his sleeve, they don’t know yet, but his wife offers a hint.

“Maybe then, I’ll let Edward use more wood in the home,” she quips.

This article was originally published in The Business Times.


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