A soulful resale flat with a secret passageway

In designing their own flat, the founders of interior design studio Ofthebox have created an entertaining-ready home with a hidden linkway for private moments.

  • A soulful resale flat with a secret passageway

Home Type: 5-room HDB flat

Floor Area: 1,260sqft

Text by Disa Tan

As interior designers designing their first home together, couple Charmian Tian and Jay Chew share a very distinctive design vision. They say: “We wanted something very different from normal homes. We loved bright colours but acknowledged it would not be an enduring look. That made us opt for a cleaner colour palette of maroon and navy blue.” 

limewash wall

Sweeping across the ceiling of their living area is therefore a bold but tranquil touch of navy blue. The first-time homeowners of this resale flat, who are also founders of interior design firm Ofthebox, wanted elements of a raw-looking resort style and with hints of modern luxury. That has been accomplished using limewash paint and tiles in a similar stone-look finish for the television console.

ambient lighting

A mood-lifting effect is achieved with ambient lighting, which extends along the back of the curved wall. The couple says: “This lighting strip offers some illumination when we are watching a movie in the dark, and also boosts the mood in the space.” 

limewash shelf

The curved ceiling feature works well in masking the low beam that used to be a conspicuous feature in the previous master bedroom. A part of the original bedroom in this resale flat has now merged with the living and dining zones to form a larger communal space. A limestone paint finish fills the recessed wall, which has storage slots to display books and other decor items.

5-room resale flat dining room

All attention falls on a unique stone-look privacy screen of iridescent colours in the dining area that blocks prying eyes from the front entrance. This fixture is a custom-made design and was originally a 1.2-metre by 2.4-metre tile slab from Hafary. The homeowners reveal that it was an arduous task to transport the large item through the stairs as the lift was not able to accommodate it. They then had it cut into half and two circular openings were carved out for a stronger visual impact.

5-room resale flat

The entrance to the kitchen is fronted by a peninsula counter which is well-utilised by the homeowners as a bar and breakfast counter. The curved edges not only make a statement of modern luxury, but the counter itself is a functional extension of the kitchen with its extra work surface. 

kitchen island

Previously enclosed, the kitchen in this resale flat has been downsized into an open-plan space that merges with the service balcony. The homeowners explain: “We don’t cook often so the layout has been reshuffled to create a smaller kitchen and a much more spacious living area.” The space-efficient galley setup is now decked in Dekton surfaces from Cosentino along with anti-fingerprint laminates for fuss-free maintenance. 

resale flat colourful kitchen

A palette of deep maroon hues promotes an ambience of optimum rest and relaxation for the new master bedroom which was previously a common bedroom. Instilling design uniformity is the rounded detail for the wardrobe. Charmian and Jay say: “This curved portion was created deliberately to conceal the air-con trunking.”

5-room resale flat bedroom

The entrance into the maroon-hued master suite is through a hidden passageway which used to be part of the study and original master bedroom. The couple reveals: “We turned this linear space into a connecting walkway to link the master bathroom to the new master bedroom.”

resale flat with passageway

Using the long walkway to host additional storage within the settee and to accommodate practical amenities like the study and walk-in wardrobe, this area features arched entryways in an alternating arrangement. According to the couple, the design intent here was to break away from rigid angles, and from the look of typical arches. 

resale flat with passageway

Perhaps the most telling detail of this passageway is its two-way mirror set between the wall shared by the study and the pantry on the other side. The homeowners are able to look through this opening from the pantry and into the hidden walkway.

resale flat with passageway

Located in the living area, the pantry with the two-way mirror is dressed to the nines with wallpaper in bold jungle motifs.  


Big format wall tiles bring a classic touch of luxury to the master bathroom. It has been laid with epoxy grouting for easier maintenance. 

classic luxury bathroom

In contrast, the common bathroom has a lighter colour palette and projects a more minimalistic sense of luxury. The walls and floors are decked in microcement and bear a similar-looking finish with the tiled television console in the living area. 

microcement finish bathroom


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