An architectural design language was applied in this home to address both aesthetic and practical considerations.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

An architectural design language was applied in this home to address both aesthetic and practical considerations.

My Reading Room

The dining area is where Derek surrounds himself with all his favourite things.

My Reading Room

The bottom of this full-height shelf – which runs the length of the dining area – features additional storage drawers that double as steps for accessing the open shelves above.

WHO A 47-year-old bachelor

HOME A three-bedroom condominium in Upper Serangoon

SIZE 1,119sqf

My Reading Room

A mirrored surface gives a sense of arrival at the entrance foyer and creates a hotel-like ambience, together with a Danish Design sofa, Boconcept lounge seat and marble coffee table from Homes To Life.

My Reading Room

The verticle nature of the open shelves informed the design of the built-in ceiling light.

My Reading Room

This is a home where good design meets excellent craftsmanship.

For the interior design of his home, accountant Derek Liew made reference to some of his favourite hotels. “I am impressed with these hotel room interiors and I wanted my home to have a similar look and feel,” he says.

Alvin from AO Studios adopted an architectural approach with a design concept that was contemporary, timeless and one that exudes the warmth of a luxurious abode. “The design needs to blend form and function. Every feature serves a purpose,” Alvin emphasises.

Heart of the home

As Derek lives alone, he requires only one master bedroom and one guest room, so the third bedroom was opened up to become a dining room.

With a proper formal dining room, there is no need to squeeze both the sofa and dining table into one space, and Derek gets to enjoy both the living and dining rooms in their entirety,” Alvin explains.

The wall between the original bedroom and living room was removed, connecting and elongating the two spaces. “The living and dining areas are my favourite parts of the home. Opening up the two spaces is especially convenient when entertaining guests,” shares Derek.

The new dining room also serves as a backdrop of sorts to the living room. Part of the existing bedroom wall facing the corridor leading to the bedrooms was retained to create a display feature. The original door, however, was removed and the doorway enlarged to make the dining room feel more like a space and less like the room that it used to be.

 In stark contrast to the lighter Scandinavian tones in the rest of the apartment, the dining room dons a darker colour. The black wall shelving and displays continue up to the ceiling to form an enveloping “man cave” ambience that is totally different from the other spaces. “Black, as always, took some convincing, but Derek eventually warmed up to the idea,” Alvin reveals.

My Reading Room

A Grafunkt dining table complements the contemporary style of the home. It is paired with chairs on one side and a bench on the other, also from Grafunkt.

Up, up and away

To get around the apartment’s limited ceiling height, Alvin tried to incorporate as many vertical lines and elements as possible into the scheme, borrowing imagery from the upright architectural fins commonly seen on building exteriors. The design intention was to accentuate the vertical dimension, thereby creating an illusion of loftiness.

The living room feature wall, for instance, is a composition of vertical timber strips that seem to have a lively rhythm of their own. It flows towards the main entrance on the left and leads visitors into the home. At the base of the feature wall is a custom-built TV console made of closely spaced, vertical timber strips. The same detailing and construction was adopted for a ceiling feature that wraps around the periphery of the living room. Even the material of the living room curtains was specifically selected for the way it hangs to form distinct, vertical pleats when drawn back.

This verticality is carried through to the design of the master bedroom, where vertical veneer panels have been lined up to form a full-height headboard feature. Alvin inserted a horizontal band that runs across its entire width. Aesthetically, it creates a visual balance to the predominantly vertical arrangement. Functionally, it serves as a recessed ledge for a clock, photo frame and other bedside paraphernalia.

Now you see it, now you don’t

Both Derek and Alvin share some common pet peeves – exposed cables, wiring and clutter, to name a few. The timber strip design of the TV console screens off unsightly wires and other multimedia players while maintaining porosity. Bottom-hinged panels open up to allow access to the equipment when necessary.

The box-up ceiling feature around the living room with the same design adds a lightness to the space. It also serves practical purposes such as concealing the air-conditioner and providing additional overhead storage.

But more importantly, Alvin made use of this element to align the varying ceiling and beam heights within the foyer, corridor, living and dining areas, partially due to the removal of the walls to the existing third bedroom when converting it into the dining room. He confesses to being “extremely particular about uniformity, scale and proportions”, which explains why he went to great lengths to mitigate the differences between various levels, heights and surfaces. The ceiling above the foyer and corridor clad in timber and the timber box-up ceiling feature all form a design language that demarcates the circulation flow within the home.

Alvin spared no effort in addressing every corner where the wall turns and every junction where two surfaces meet. In some cases, the transition is so seamless to the extent of being imperceptible, while others were deliberately articulated into an architectural expression.

My Reading Room

A free-standing display shelf between the corridor and dining area.

My Reading Room

Alvin’s design reflects an architectural approach that’s applied to home interiors.

My Reading Room

Derek’s bicycle does not fit in the store room, so Alvin turned it into a wall feature in the guest room.

My Reading Room

The master bedroom’s headboard features recessed detailing to receive the Grafunkt bed frame.


AO Studios,

Text LYNN TAN Photography VERNON WONG Art Direction NONIE CHEN