Home Tour: A Minimalist House With Japanese-Style Details
Perched atop a hill on a tranquil cul-de-sac, this striking bungalow overlooks the lush landscape of its neighbourhood. And the house is not just green on the outside. As an avid gardener who has planted “more than 1,000 plants” in the estate, it is no surprise the man of the house wanted a nature-inspired design. The owner tasked Brenda Ang, director of Lab Architects, to create a cosy sanctuary with ample social spaces for the family.
“One of the most challenging aspects of the project is to carve out spaces that encourage good cross ventilation, minimising stale air within the huge rooms,” shares Ang, who gave the house a C-shaped layout. This new configuration makes room for a spacious patio and pool at the centre of the home, while filling the interiors with plenty of light.
Every part of the house has been meticulously planned and thought out, from the entrance to the location of facilities such as the gym. This fitness area has been separated to improve the flow of the home as well—the gym is housed in a freestanding pavilion beside the pool.
On the ground floor, what was once a poorly-lit area is now a Zen resort-style entryway. It features fish ponds illuminated by skylights and rustic stone walls, some of which cleverly conceal the electrical and storage rooms. A pair of elevators takes the family and guests up to the first floor, where the living, dining and kitchen areas are located. The second floor houses the children’s bedrooms, while the couple has the third floor and a sprawling roof garden entirely to themselves.
The residence boasts wood-panelled glass windows, teak flooring and a spacious backyard that the family man likens to a vegetable farm. The exterior of the three-storey property is also partially clad in full-length wood swivel-panels, which open up to unfettered views of the greenery while maintaining a degree of privacy. Made from Accoya wood, a durable material used to construct bridges, these panels temper the harsh rays of the sun.
In the living room, these panels are banked with a row of foliage by the glass windows. “The strong rays are filtered by vertical panelled screens and a huge indoor planter,” shares the architect. “These vertical panels are supported by a horizontal trellis that serves to air and water the huge indoor planter even when these panels are closed.” It has also become a favourite spot in the house for the owner. The panels are adjustable at the click of a button, in case of rain. Not only does this protect the furnishings from the damaging effects of direct sunlight, it also keeps the heat out. A double roofing system, another cooling technique, aids in the ventilation. It is built on a slant, following the angle of the top-floor balcony, to capture a wider view of the scenery as well.
Having spent many holidays in Japan with his family, the owner wanted the house to celebrate these joyful memories by including subtle references to the Land of the Rising Sun in the interiors. Inspired by Shoji doors (traditional Japanese wood-framed doors with paper screens), light wood screen panels are used as a headboard feature in one of their children’s bedrooms, and as a closet door in the master bedroom. The sliding doors in the living and dining rooms also feature a similar Japanese-style wood pattern in a darker hue.
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A feature that the homeowner had his eye on from the get-go was the Hinoki bath tubs, which he brought in from Japan and placed in each of the master and junior master bathrooms. Made from three century-old Japanese cypress wood from the Kiso region, and boasting antibacterial elements, the tubs give off a sweet aroma and encourage blood circulation during a long bath.
True to the Japanese sensibility of the house, the sleeping quarters feature a minimalist, pared-down look. Most of the doors to the bedrooms are flushed against the wall in the corridor. Hidden doors are incorporated all over the house, such as the two storage compartments on the second floor and the entrance to the powder room and wet kitchen on the first floor.
To complement the streamlined look, the colour palette of its interiors are monochromatic with pops of yellow.
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From the travertine walls in the bathrooms to the three-dimensional natural stone feature wall in the dining space, the colours used are light and understated.
The house wasn’t built for him, says the husband. Every little detail was crafted with his family in mind, in particular his wife. “It’s like a gift to my wife,” says the husband. He adds: “So when my wife saw it for the first time, she was speechless.”
This story was adapted from Singapore Tatler Homes Oct-Nov 2018
- Art Direction Khairul Ali
- Photography Jasper Yu
- Photographer's Assistant Tan Ming Yuan