Every level of this 70-year-old terrace house has a fresh and inviting new identity, thanks to its designer and owner Kelvin Teo. ROSSARA JAMIL takes a tour.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Dynamic, sleek and functional, each floor serves a different purpose. 


A family of four

HOME 1950s corner terrace house

SIZE 1,350 sq ft (land area) 1,900 sq ft (built-up area) 

My Reading Room

The fish scale feature is composed of acoustic panels made of felt. After coating the wall with magnetic paint, Kelvin glued strong magnets onto the felt scales before attaching them to the wall. 

My Reading Room

What looks like wood panelling is the entrance to the bathroom. A door that slides over the display cabinet conceals the refrigerator and pantry. And a mirror door leads to the storeroom. 

The vintage architecture and pitched roof of this compact corner terrace house built in the 1950s sealed the deal. Drawn by the charm of its architecture, designer Kelvin Teo retained its structure. “I’d been on the lookout for property in District 13 for a while,” says Kelvin, the founder of Space Sense Studio. “The house was also in its original state, which was one of my criteria.” This gave him the freedom to transform the house – with a built-up floor area of 1,900 sq ft – to his taste.

He dressed the facade with grey bricks and steel cladding, instantly giving it a contemporary update. Past the main entrance, Kelvin overhauled the entire layout of the ground floor, creating an open-concept communal space with a “fireplace” cabinet beside the sofa, and used acoustic wall panelling with a fish scale pattern for the feature wall.

Its installation was not without trial and error. The same goes for concealing the bathroom door, fridge, pantry and storeroom door which he tackled with L-shaped wood panelling. 

The furniture and interior designer shares: “My design narrative was to create a different concept for each level that was based on a monochromatic palette. Each space forms its own personality and identity, and their themes were enhanced through the use of natural materials with strong, visible textures.” 

My Reading Room

With its greenhouselike glass roof and full-height windows, this cosy dining area brings in elements of nature. 

My Reading Room

Kelvin keeps the second floor free from distractions by leaving it clean and spare. 

The dark flooring gives the ground level a bold, masculine vibe. A variety of textures, like the burnt wood-textured flooring, oak veneer wood strips, marble surfaces and acoustic wall panelling, enriches the setting. Kelvin’s Paper Fold chair, which won the President’s Design of the Year Award in 2009, adds a splash of colour.

Further in, the kitchen has a floating island counter that’s connected to a pull-out dining table. In addition to full-height windows, a glass roof lets in more natural light. “I like the feel of standing in the rain without getting wet. That’s the idea of having the glass roof. I get to experience the raindrops,” he adds. 

My Reading Room

The ground floor is for meeting clients and entertaining family and friends. It provides flexibility with three areas: a sitting lounge, an island table with a bar and a retractable dining table. 

My Reading Room

The minimalist black and white staircase leads to the loft. 

The second level, with epoxy flooring and brick walls doused in white, is a double-volume space. Furnished with tables and bookcases, this minimalist home office is designed to promote focus.

Up above, the pitched ceiling sits over solid wood planks salvaged from other projects. He shares: “I’ve always liked interiors with attic roofs. It gives the emotional, laid-back and cosy feel of a cottage, a farmhouse or a summer house.”

The sleeping space is in the loft, away from everything else and reachable by a narrow flight of steps. Inspired by the Danish concept of hygge, its wood-textured vinyl flooring complements the wood-clad ceiling.

With this home, Kelvin enjoyed the challenges of birthing new ideas and implementing his experiments. “As a designer, the nature of my role is to experiment with new things and to challenge myself. It’s always exciting to create unique designs – even when I know I will be getting my hands dirty.” 

My Reading Room

The staircase, fashioned out of an ultra-thin metal sheet folded into steps, and the sculptural bent steel handrail, transform this space into a work of art. The frameless door opens up to the second-level bathroom. 

My Reading Room

The floor, wall, vanity and door panel use the same material for harmony. 

My Reading Room

The sleeping area that sits under the roof is at once cosy and spacious. It is furnished and decorated sparingly with treasured collectables. 

My Reading Room

The glass floor section in the loft provides additional space and creates a connection with the floor below. 

My Reading Room

The main entrance is through a wooden alcove with a large steel and glass door fitted at an angle. The wood pattern warms up the grey. 

My Reading Room

Peek into the bathroom on the ground floor, and you will see a stand-alone vanity island with different counter heights. An artificial vertical garden livens it up. 



My Reading Room

Constructing the 3D origami shaped main gate that he designed called for Kelvin to be hands-on for the fabrication.