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Art Design Home Tour: A Minimalist Apartment Designed In The Style Of A Modern Ryokan

Home Tour: A Minimalist Apartment Designed In The Style Of A Modern Ryokan

Home Tour: A Minimalist Apartment Designed In The Style Of A Modern Ryokan
By Karen Tee
October 02, 2019
Tatler Focus
Intelligent spatial planning, natural light, and Scandinavian influences transform a spacious family apartment into a calming and cosy abode; this project has been nominated for the Best Living Room accolade, as part of the Readers' Choice category of Tatler Design Awards 2020

Surrounded by lush gardens in a prime district, this 3,500sqft residence already exudes calm, restorative vibes. What the family needed from Dennis Cheok, creative director of Upstairs_, was to reconfigure the apartment’s sprawling plan of isolated nooks and crannies that had become neglected with disuse into a cohesive, welcoming space.

Their passion for Japanese culture is evident through their carefully curated collection of antiques, furniture, and artifacts which add character to the home. So, it was not surprising when they had a precise brief—to create a modern ryokan (a traditional Japanese inn) with Scandinavian touches.

(Related: Temples, Ryokans And Tombstones: A Slow Travel Guide To Kyoto, Japan)


1/4 Gathering Space

A large living area, delineated into zones by sunken floorplates and elevated platforms, evokes the layered spaces of a ryokan. Comfortable, oversized sofas create an inviting atmosphere for family time while a levitating Naguri-textured plinth, hand-carved out of Japanese chestnut, is both an entrance step into the lounge as well as a tatami seating platform when the situation calls for it.

(Related: This Boutique Hotel In Japan Is A Must-Visit For Nature Lovers)


2/4 Meditative Moments

The open-concept kitchen features a 5m-long island counter to enable a direct connection from food preparation, to the counter seats, or to the dining table. The result is a delightful communal space for family members to interact effortlessly with each other.

(Related: This Boutique Hotel In Japan Is A Must-Visit For Nature Lovers)

3/4 Japanese Influence

The seigaiha (a traditional Japanese wave-like motif) pattern is featured on a screen (pictured above) and satin glass, which bring warm light into this transitional space that connects the living area to the bedrooms. “Furnishing-wise, we kept this space pristine and ceremonial—the emphasis is on the spatial quality that is a delightful pause point to behold. It is a nod to Japanese minimalism,” says Cheok.


4/4 Restful Sleep

Like a welcoming Japanese inn, the cosy master bedroom is clad in timber panels. Taking cues from how one would live in a ryokan, the furnishing is intentionally kept low to the ground. Varied strips of Japanese chestnut timber forms a low bedhead with artistic flair.

A tatami ledge, on which a low tea table is located, delineates the bedroom, bathroom and balcony. Echoing the theme in the hallway, a seigaiha screen divides the rest area from the master bathroom. “A pristine, stone-clad bathroom offers a visual and sensorial respite from the textured, timber-lined bedroom,” says Cheok.

(Related: 5 New Hotels In Japan To Check Into On Your Next Holiday)


Founded in 2011 by architect Dennis Cheok (seen on the left), Upstairs_ is a spatial design studio that strives to experiment and push new boundaries in traditional crafts and material innovation in the field of interior design. Past projects by the firm include the N.Tyler flagship boutique in The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, the Crocodile concept boutique at Vivocity as well as an elegant array of homes in Singapore.

Upstairs_ | 8 Changi South Street S(486790) | 6299 0650 

This project has been nominated for the Best Living Room accolade, as part of the Readers' Choice categories of Tatler Design Awards 2020. The winners will be announced in the February 2020 issue of Singapore Tatler Homes; online voting will close on November 11.

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