It’s always a compliment to designers when a homeowner re-engages their services and requests that her new home looks just like the previous one. Lynn Tan finds out how the designer went about creating a similar feel while turning constraints into unique features.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

When the homeowner, Mrs Ng, purchased this apartment, she instinctively knew that she wanted an open concept kitchen and a concealed household shelter door. She also wanted to have the same “mood and style” as her previous home, which was designed by Distinct Identity. Having established a good rapport with the team, it was natural that she entrusted the project to them once again.

For Ambika Chowdhry, interior design executive at Distinct Identity, the challenge was in coming up with a design that would make the apartment feel as spacious and luxurious as the landed home that the family had moved from. “Besides hacking the kitchen walls and integrating it with the dining to create an open living concept, the interior has been designed in a modern luxe style with clean lines and a cosy feel,” says Ambika.

The family loves to host, especially during festive seasons, so the main living, dining and kitchen areas have been designed with this in mind. “Back in our previous home, we had a wet and dry kitchen and we spent most of our time at the dining table in the dry kitchen, either working from home or catching up on each other’s day,” says Mrs Ng, an accountant who shares the home with her husband and mother-in-law.

They wanted something similar in their new home. The integrated dining and kitchen are the main features of the home. With the existing kitchen walls removed, the kitchen counter and dining table form a linear element that extends across both spaces, with a slight variation in height between the two as a dining table is typically lower than a kitchen countertop. Dekton is used on the kitchen counter and backsplash and it follows through to the custom-made dining table, establishing a continuity that ties the two spaces together. A series of full-height, built-in cabinets behind the dining area provide valuable storage space for the family, conceals the shelter door, and serves as a feature wall.

One of the challenges in designing the kitchen and dining areas is the structural column right in the middle of the two spaces. “I wanted the column to stand out on its own, which was why I opted for a raw concrete finish to add a different texture to the space and give it more character,” Ambika explains. The raw concrete column, the wooden laminates of the feature wall and the solid grey kitchen cabinets create a visual composition that is well-articulated, yet harmoniously balanced. The colour scheme is also similar to that of their previous home.

Another challenging but interesting aspect is having to incorporate fengshui into the built-in carpentry, television console and dining table. “I not only had to check that the various measurements complied with fengshui requirements, but also bear in mind their proportions, as well as ensure that they were appropriately-sized for their respective spaces and functions,” Ambika highlights.

The clean lines of the master bedroom are consistent with the rest of the interior. Ambika reconfigured the layout such that the bed is now positioned with the headboard against the floor-to-ceiling window. This arrangement takes advantage of the length of the room so as to accommodate a king-sized bed and proper bedside tables. “It gives an interesting twist to the room and provides me with more storage space, as well as a clean wall for the television set and console,” comments Mrs Ng. Replacing the original swing door to the attached master bathroom with a sliding door also helps to fully utilise the space within the room.

After eight weeks of renovation that cost around $100,000, the family moved in just before the lunar new year in 2019. Mrs Ng is full of praise for Ambika: “She understood my tastes and preferences well and was able to incorporate my ideas and fit our lifestyle into the design.” For Ambika, the project not only addressed the client’s brief, but it also achieved the aesthetics that they wanted while “keeping the design practical and functional for the homeowners”.

My Reading Room

Concrete recessed lights above the dining table take their cue from the raw concrete column.

A suspended shoe cabinet at the entrance foyer is visually appealing yet practical. The materials offer a hint of the mood and theme of the interior.
My Reading Room


A couple and the husband’s mother HOME A three-bedroom condominium in Kembangan SIZE 1,300 sq ft
My Reading Room
My Reading Room

The living room was kept open and spacious as the designer already managed to carve out sufficient storage spaces within the dining and kitchen areas.


Tinted mirror panelling makes the entrance foyer feel more spacious, while allowing the homeowners to check their appearances before leaving home.

The raw concrete and wooden laminates contrast starkly yet coexist harmoniously.
My Reading Room
The corridor leading to the bedrooms transcends its utilitarian function with trench spotlights that add to its character and ambience.
My Reading Room
My Reading Room

Bold tiles give the master bathroom a strong character.


The custom-made leather-upholstered bed incorporates a metal structure. It is positioned against the floor-to-ceiling window, so it needs to be able to withstand the weight of someone leaning against it.