UNO Interior turned a four-bedroom walk-up apartment with awkward spaces into this fashionable one-bedroom, open-plan home for a couple working the design industry and their fve cats. ASIH JENIE Finds out more.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

The kitchen, dining, living, and working areas share one big open space. The windows have been enlarged and fitted with custom metal mesh to keep the cats safe.


A couple in their 30s and their five cats

HOME A one-bedroom walk-up in the Bukit Timah area

SIZE 1,313 sq ft 

Homeowner Candy Chen has always wanted a walk-up apartment, but finding one in a convenient and quiet location was not easy. So when she and her husband found one above a quaint coffee shop in a tranquil area of Bukit Timah, they looked past its awkward existing design, focused on its potential and immediately made an offer.

The 40-year-old unit had four bedrooms and just one bathroom and a toilet as well as a narrow service yard. The living and dining areas shared one window that didn’t provide sufficient natural light. The three common rooms with an underutilised triangular balcony wedged between them, on the other hand, hoarded all the natural light.

And the master bedroom, positioned more like a service bedroom, was tucked away at the end of a long corridor, accessible only from the kitchen – once you got past the toilet and the shower ( each housed in a separate, snug space). A narrow service yard capped this corridor. 

My Reading Room

The pivoting door to the master suite features a circular opening for the cats. The cupboard next to it conceals a washer and dryer. 

My Reading Room

The additional powder room. 

Today, this once-perplexing unit is a sun-drenched open-plan apartment with a dark and sleek material palette, thanks to the capable hands of the designers of UNO Interior, who designed the owners’ previous home.

“We engaged UNO Interior again because we worked so well together before, and pretty much gave them free rein for the design,” says Candy. The brief was simple: the couple wanted ample light, enough room and amenities for their five cats and lots of open space where Candy’s husband, who works in the design industry, could easily and quickly locate his items. “This was a challenge for me because when everything’s out in the open, things clutter easily. Call it an occupational hazard, but I like to keep everything neat,” says Candy, who owns a small boutique in Haji Lane.

UNO Interior had little trouble meeting both their needs and delivering a sweet spot that appealed to both their personalities. Completed in 15 weeks, their new home has just one bedroom: the master bedroom. The other rooms and living and dining areas have been merged into one large, open space lined with storage and dotted with pocket areas for different activities. 

My Reading Room

Separated by a glass wall, the shower and toilet are completely open to both the bedroom and walk-in wardrobe. 

My Reading Room

An uninterrupted view of the master suite from the walk-in wardrobe, where clothes are hung according to colours, just like in a boutique. 

While other walls were removed and fenestrations enlarged, the kitchen was left completely open. The dining counter, featuring Sensa by Cosentino granite top, segues into a working space. The bedroom at the far end is now a sitting space, featuring a bookshelf that flips open into a spare bed that can accommodate overnight guests. Brought indoors, the triangular balcony is now another sitting area with planters. The living area consists simply of a sofa, a coffee table and a TV mounted on a pole that has the space visually seamless.

The entrance to the master suite has been shifted to make space for a powder room and given a new, oversized pivot door that also leads to the walk-in wardrobe with rows of open racks with clothing neatly hung by colours. It sits in a space that used to be the kitchen.

Further inside, the original layout of the shower and toilet remains, but all the fitting and finishes are new. Now, there are no doors that separate the three areas in the master suite, leaving the visual and spatial flow entirely uninterrupted. “We’d like to maintain the openness since it’s just us and the cats here,” shares Candy. 



My Reading Room

The master bedroom pairs screed cement and calming navy blue. The area next to the bed used to be the rather narrow service yard. 

The cats, of course, helped shape the home’s aesthetic. “One of the challenges was how to cat-proof the place without making it feel like a cage,” shares the design team. One of many other solutions: a custom black metal grille on the windows, giving the space a decidedly industrial feel where they can roam independently.

The pivot door to the master suite features metal mesh to allow them to climb up to the open shelving above the kitchen cabinet. Round openings in the carpentry provide hiding spots and hide litter boxes.

The couple’s previous home was an HDB unit dressed mostly in white. This new home shifts the material palette to the opposite end of the monochromatic spectrum, playing up grey and black shades accentuated by teak, plants and mirrored finishes.

“The walls and ceilings are clad in screed cement to give a neutral base,” says the team. It goes with the grey terrazzo flooring containing white marble chippings, giving the entire home a subtle, rich texture. Now, here is one fashionable home that’s truly tailored for the homeowners – all seven of them.