A serene home inspired by Taiwanese cafe culture and Japanese aesthetics

For a homeowner with a passion for travel and baking, d’Phenomenal crafted a calm and inviting residence using natural materials and Japanese design elements.

  • A serene home inspired by Taiwanese cafe culture and Japanese aesthetics

Home Type: 4-room HDB flat

Floor Area: 1,002sqft

Text by Olha Romaniuk

In this four-room resale flat, a serene space tailored to the homeowner’s hobbies and lifestyle pursuits unfolds as a series of connected vignettes that pay homage to his travels to Taiwan, where he had spent time visiting cafes and hiking. Sitting down with the interior designers from d’Phenomenal, the owner requested for a home that would evoke the feel and functionality of some of the places that he enjoyed visiting during his travels – a home that felt close to nature and allowed the owner to share his passion for baking with friends and loved ones.

cafe inspired flat

To set the right tone from the get-go, the design team at d’Phenomenal wanted to instil a sense of being transported into a different setting as soon as the owner entered the residence. To create this feeling of transition, d’Phenomenal separated the main entrance from the rest of the home by introducing a secondary set of doors to form an enclosed foyer laid with pebbles and stone slabs on the floor to set a distinct mood of entering a zen space right from the entrance.

The usage of stone had its additional advantages: “Stone surfaces can help regulate indoor temperature,” explain the designers. “In hot weather, they can feel cool underfoot, providing a refreshing sensation when entering the house. On the other hand, during colder weather, they can help retain some warmth.”

cafe inspired flat

Within the living room, the owner’s request was to incorporate three things – a display cabinet, an altar and a television. With the living space kept pared down, the main feature here became an arched partition, introduced to establish connectivity between the living room and the other spaces within the home and to add a touch of softness.

Creating a recessed niche for the altar, d’Phenomenal found a suitable wallpaper that referenced a water effect to line the backdrop. The intention was to create an effect of the deity floating on water, in accordance to the feng shui master’s guidelines.

cafe inspired flat

For the dining and kitchen concept, d’Phenomenal took references from a relaxed cafe setting, where the homeowner could showcase his baking skills from the vantage point of the windows facing the dining area. The designers experimented with upward-folding windows, much like the ones that can be seen at a cafe, to visually connect the kitchen and the dining space.

Raw finishes, like grey concrete-inspired floor tiles and a cement screed settee, balanced with warm elements, like rattan, create a dining space that feels both industrial and inviting. The designers selected the rattan pendant light for its intricate, woven design that has lent an additional touch of warmth, with a diffused glow filtering through the gaps in the woven patterns to emanate the dining area.

To ensure that the Zen concept carried through the entire house, special attention was paid to lighting selection and placement to create indirect and delicate highlights within the home. Placing the lights at the same level as the stones at the corridor ensured that attention was drawn to the path to add a sense of subtlety to the design. Likewise, instead of overpowering or flooding the spaces with light, wall lights were added to provide more gentle illumination to complement the natural light. According to the design team’s intent, “the light gently washes over the stones, creating interesting shadows and highlights, adding depth to the design.”


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