See how Goy Architects turned the kitchen in a small HDB flat into a full-fledged living space to socialise and connect.
8 June 2021
Home Type: 3-room HDB flat
Floor Area: 700sqft
Interview by Janice Seow
Photography by Fabian Ong
When you have a household of four living in a three-room flat, the common response would be to find all ways to maximise every space in the house. But understanding the lifestyle of her client, Goy Zhenru of Goy Architects has focused on the kitchen and made it the heart of the home, even extending it into the living room. She tells us more about this rather unusual move.
The client, Kerrie, is a dear childhood friend of mine. As I knew her so well, she gave me a free hand in deciding what would best suit her lifestyle. Kerrie loves cooking and is also a very social person, so the design brief naturally had to accommodate in this relatively compact 3-room flat, spaces that could be used for socialising, cooking and relaxation.
The original kitchen was very small and would not have provided sufficient space for her to bake, cook together with friends, or even place ingredients around when cooking.
Firstly, we removed the existing kitchen walls to create one continuous space from the living room to the kitchen.
Connected by a flip-up slab, the counter can also extend from the kitchen to the living area, or be converted into the bar/dining table for a generous and comfortable seating arrangement for eight (quite an uncommon arrangement for a small flat).
When it’s not used for meals, it is also a very conducive work space for all the work from home days where it doubles up as a 2.6-metre-long desk (equipped with powerpoints on three sides of the counter).
Also, every dinner party we’ve had in her home has ended up as a drinking fest. We’ve therefore designed simple shelving where she can keep and display all her bottles.
We had to keep the two bedrooms as there are four people living in the flat. We did away with the typical TV feature wall, and replaced it with a custom made timber bookshelf which is also her garden shelf.
The other ‘simple luxury’ in the apartment is this 2.5-metre-long daybed/sofa that allows one to fully stretch out arms over head. It’s even longer than an actual bed! We always joke that she got the penthouse suite of the block, as she has an uninterrupted view of Labrador Nature Park and an amazing natural ventilation through the apartment. The perpetual wind makes it even more amazing, and all the more reason to snuggle up with a blanket and a hot cup of tea during a cool day.
The nice thing about this layout configuration is that someone could be in the kitchen cooking, another finishing up work at the extended bar top, yet another could be chilling at the daybed, each having their private space, but yet socially connected at the same time.
Kerrie is a professional outdoor adventure polytechnic lecturer. She has a love for nature and her indoor plants. We wanted the space to be cosy while translating some natural textures into the apartment.
We chose a sandblasted granite slab for the countertop instead of the usual polished or honed finish to give the space a more tactile quality.
For the flooring, we used pebble wash for the entryway and kitchen area, Asia walnut for living area and bedrooms, and homogeneous tiles for the bathrooms.
We wanted a more robust and tactile sensation on the foot when we entered the apartment, and also as a spatial strategy to connect the entryway with the kitchen space.
This is also the area where Browsy, Kerrie’s adopted mongrel, would get her paws cleaned, leashed up, and basically get prepped before going out or coming back into the flat. At the bar area, we used handmade ceramic tiles that were produced specially for this project in Bali. I wanted to feature the handmade textures that naturally display a variation of colours and character on each tile.
As a visual treatment to the internal elevation, I needed to keep the wall, door and fridge one consistent colour. We chose the chalkboard black paint to be applied to wall and door; the whole surface is used for meal preparation menus, love messages and reminders. It’s basically an old school interactive surface for communication.
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