Interior designer Kelvin Teo redefines the industrial look with warm wood accents and a contemporary style in this spacious apartment home.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Interior designer Kelvin Teo redefines the industrial look with warm wood accents and a contemporary style in this spacious apartment home.

The kitchen is a perfect microcosm of the flat’s brawny theme and striking colour palette.

WHO A couple in their 30s and their pet dog

HOME Five-room premium BTO flat in Bukit Batok

SIZE 1,184 sqfHD

My Reading Room

So committed were they to the colour scheme that the homeowners even spray-painted their living room’s Venetian blinds black. Bean bags from Doob, fire hydrant dustbin from Taobao.

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After deciding on the design direction with Kelvin, Norica and Jaret shopped for accessories to suit the industrial look of their home.

When Norica Ng and Jaret Sim received the keys to their BTO flat, they were faced with a myriad of ways to design their dream home. The young couple were open to radical concepts and wanted to do away with conventional furnishings, such as a sofa and dining table.

While they didn’t have a specific look in mind, they knew that it had to be easy to maintain and complement their modern lifestyle. In addition, the forward-looking homeowners required plenty of storage space to keep their home clutter-free.

Leaning towards an industrial style for their abode, they consulted a few interior designers before deciding on the ideas proposed by Kelvin Teo of Space Sense Studio. The homeowners were inspired by Kelvin’s vision of adding a twist to the industrial look with unique accents, door and ceiling treatments.

Ceiling masterpiece

Stepping into the home, the masculine interiors of black, grey and silver, with eye-catching red accents, make for a visually arresting sight.

The first thing that catches the eye is the impressive ceiling – LED tube lights criss-cross the wood panel-design wallpaper, with black steel beams that intersect it along its width. One of Kelvin’s masterpieces, he explains that the design was inspired by the look of loft spaces overseas. “I wanted to make the home look like an apartment in New York, and not a normal HDB unit. The ceiling is critical when one wants to really transform a space,” he says.

He shares how the ceilings of traditional cottage houses in the West are rarely bare, with exposed structural beams and panelled ceilings, and his design is a modern reinterpretation of that look.

Bold and beautiful

Kelvin got creative with his designs to substitute the sofa and dining table that the couple ruled out of their home. To replace the ubiquitous living room couch, Kelvin built a platform for the couple to rest and relax in front of the TV.

The platform, too, sports a unique design. Built above two steps, the platform’s wooden decking is seemingly supported by I-beams, which can be made out from its edges. “Initially we wanted a cosy area for us to watch TV without a couch,” says Jaret, “but I think Kelvin’s platform idea turned out nicely. When we lay on our bean bags to watch TV, it is very comfortable because the screen is at eye level.”

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A storage area was carved from the space next to the TV console and closed off with custom-designed doors resembling those of armories.

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These metal latches, inspired by the flight cases used by musicians, were sourced from overseas.

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A coffee table-cum-storage compartment can be pulled out from the two-step platform.

The couple went for cement-look vinyl flooring in the living room, which complemented the industrial theme to a tee.

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Jet-black granite was used as the surface of the kitchen countertop.

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Guests to the home are greeted with an industrial push button doorbell.

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Up close, the cabinet doors of the TV console look persuasively like actual lockers.

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Steel bolts were added to the top and bottom of the couple’s walk-in wardrobe doors to make the concrete and steel encasement aesthetic more realistic.

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One other interesting point of this home is that there are no pendant lights to be found. Instead, lighting in each space was handpicked to match the industrial theme, such as these vintage cage lights in the kitchen.

The TV is nestled within a full-height console built with storage cabinets, with metallic angled vent detailing on the doors, making them look like lockers – another unique product of Kelvin’s design.

The couple take their meals at the peninsula counter, which was extended into the spacious living room to expand the footprint of the kitchen. The external face of the kitchen counter is clad in wood-look laminate, while the cabinet door panels look like gear cases used by touring musicians to store their equipment.

Kitchen appliances and accessories are thoughtfully aligned to the colour palette of the house: Grey in the concrete screed walls; black touches of the cooker hood and checkered steel plate for the splashback; and pops of red in the kettle and spray-painted pipe.

Rugged inspiration

Kelvin wove in features borrowed from industrial worksites for a more compelling theme. For example, the cage lights in the kitchen are “shipyard-inspired”, and the design of the steel metal mesh door next to the TV console, which conceals more storage space, was taken from armories.

Door designs

Surprises abound in this modern home. What appears to be a door for an escape route turns out to be the entrance to the common bathroom. This cheeky touch is enhanced with a fluorescent exit sign over its fire engine red door and a decorative crash bar. Inside, the wall tiles of the shower area sport the same striking hue accented by tints of beige. The master bathroom is clad in the home’s other standout colour, black.

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Kelvin designed a long wooden closure, with planks randomly nailed across it, mimicking the hastily sealed doors of old buildings. This closure seals up the old opening of the adjacent bedroom.

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The wall tiles of the shower area in the common bathroom are the same hue of red as its door. Tiles from Hup Kiong.

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The wall between the master bedroom and adjacent bedroom was partially hacked and fitted with a barn door for extra privacy.

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worked in this flat because of the controlled usage of red as an accent colour, rather than in applying it in large swathes.

Kelvin’s design of the home extended beyond the interiors, such as the front gate – the grille gate has unfinished wooden planks nailed on it in a random but tasteful fashion. To create an adjoining walk-in wardrobe to the master bedroom, the wall between two bedrooms was partially hacked and fitted with a sliding barn style door.

Element of fun

Despite the home’s seemingly serious palette, it is evident that the homeowners are a fun-loving pair.

A larger-than-life hand-painted mural of a geisha girl, inspired by one of their favourite artists, becomes the focal point in the living room. The couple also shared a wonderful design chemistry with Kelvin, and gamely sourced for accessories to suit his interior design, such as the fire hydrant dustbin and beanbags.

The five-month renovation set the duo back $70,000, excluding furnishings, but Norica and Jaret love their new home and enjoyed the journey of creating it with a designer who knew just what they wanted.


Space Sense Studio, TEL: 6858-5258