IN-EXPAT x UPSTAIRS_ is an all-in-one building and design consultancy that is the result of a unique partnership between builders and designers.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

IN-EXPAT x UPSTAIRS_ is an all-in-one building and design consultancy that is the result of a unique partnership between builders and designers. Design studio UPSTAIRS_ focuses on the conception, design and spatial planning of both architecture and interiors, while IN-EXPAT manages the building and construction aspects. This collaboration brings about a dynamic synergy to create one-of-a-kind bespoke designs that reflect the homeownerʼs personality and lifestyle. 

My Reading Room

Eric Lee (right)


Bertrand Koh (left)


Dennis Cheok (middle)


8 Changi South Street 1 Tel: 6299-0650

My Reading Room

Townhouse in Watten Estate Road



The homeowner Nico grew up on the beaches of southern France and wanted a home that would evoke the seaside nostalgia of his childhood. While the style of the home is unmistakably beach house with a hint of romanticism, Dennis was mindful not to make it overly thematic, and kept it contemporary instead. 

The palette is primarily white, complemented by touches of natural stone and timber such as white Carrara marble, natural ash and sun-bleached timber. A variety of textures were introduced to balance the monochromatic colour scheme. As the property has changed hands many times and undergone multiple renovations, the challenge for Dennis and his team was to visualise the spaces stripped bare of all the existing works, in order to conceive a new design that would enhance the home according to the clientʼs brief and requirements. 

There were, however, some existing elements that were assimilated into the new home. Skylights fill the interior with abundant natural light, and Dennis took advantage of these by transforming the spaces below them into a bedroom alcove and a meditative nook. In the process of removing some of the existing plasterworks and other wall and floor finishes, the team discovered the original bricks, timber strips and even Peranakan floor tiles. These were carefully restored, treated or painted and integrated into the new interiors.

My Reading Room

The living room, dining room and patio spaces on the first storey flow seamlessly into one another, addressing the homeownerʼs preference for open spaces. The smooth, white engineered wood flooring, the rough exposed brick wall that has been painted white, and the white canvas Wendelbo sofa imbue a richness to the white tapestry, articulated through the different textures. These are complemented by natural accents from the ceiling joists in solid ash timber, recycled sun-bleached timber used on the patio decking, and various furniture pieces such as the Gilda armchair with timber frame and June dining chairs from Zanotta.

The space on the second storey belongs to the homeownerʼs young son, Jules. The futon placed on top of a custom-built solid pinewood and plywood pallet, together with an adjoining study alcove constructed entirely out of raw plywood, give the room a rustic and playful vibe.

The master bedroom on the third storey is the homeownerʼs private lair. The super king-sized bed sits on an elevated alcove above a series of steps incorporating storage drawers. Another interesting feature is the clawfoot bathtub that takes pride of place in the bedroom, adjacent to the master bath. As with the rest of the house, the different textures of materials such as the white-painted exposed brick wall, white composite lumber plastic decking, ceramic mosaics and subway tiles add a complex dimension to a simple palette.

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