Light-filled house with stacked gardens

This tranquil house by The Design Abode makes the most of the outdoors with a staggered layout and utilitarian aesthetic.

  • Light-filled house with stacked gardens

Text by Stephanie Peh

Located within a landed enclave in the vicinity of Sembawang Hills, this charming and light-filled inter-terrace house belongs to a family with two young children. In consideration of the modest plot of 2,520 square feet, the brief was kept simple: the homeowners requested for the necessary communal zones, a room for themselves, their children, and an additional guest-cum-study room. The family is a returning client for The Design Abode who completed their utilitarian Marine Parade HDB flat many years ago.

inter-terrace house with stacked gardens

Working around a tight budget, The Design Adobe advised the homeowners to keep their gross floor area compact while creating room for the outdoors. “While the rooms were small, every one of them had a ‘borrowed’ space from the outdoors,” says The Design Abode. Keeping the architecture compact, the rooms take up half the site’s width, leaving the other half open for gardens, and granting every room a meditative and tranquil quality.

inter-terrace house

Only a few elements from the original site where a single-storey house once stood were retained. Walls dividing the bedrooms and communal zones were kept as a framework for the new floors above. The old facade walls that adhered to previous URA regulations of a six-metre setback were also preserved. Inevitably, the newly constructed upper floors had to comply with the new 7.5-metre setback, resulting in a tiered elevation that informed the architectural concept.

inter-terrace house with stacked gardens

Architecturally, the house was constructed using a lightweight pre-fabricated structure from a local fabricator – conceived in collaboration with The Design Adobe’s architectural arm, WKL Architects.

eames lounger

Inside, The Design Adobe referenced the classic Eames house where modest functionality was key. “Elements were kept honest and unembellished with whitewashed walls and structure, bare marine plywood joinery, cement screed and classic ceramic and terracotta tiles,” says The Design Abode.

house with daylight and  gardens

The living and dining spaces form an open area that comes alive with an abundance of indirect daylight that enters the house from the atrium. Timeless furniture such as the Eames Lounge Chair by Herman Miller and mid-century Scandinavian pieces from Noden completes the theme. The only built-in is a plywood display system to showcase a tasteful curation of collected objects from books to candles to glass bottles.

light-filled kitchen in inter-terrace house

The kitchen is composed of natural terrazzo counters, a stainless steel backsplash and exposed marine plywood carpentry with raw “kueh lapis” edges on display. Views of greenery from the rear garden and inner courtyard, ample daylight and cross-ventilation from the atrium and rear windows make up for the narrow kitchen.

light-filled kitchen in inter-terrace house

Opening to the front terrace, the master bedroom is enveloped by warm marine plywood panels that form a small walk-in closet. The children’s shared bedroom opens up to a side terrace that serves as the outdoor play area. Future-proofing the house, a partition segregates an indoor play area that can be turned into a second room when the kids are older and need more privacy. As it opens out to the roof terrace, the attic was designated as a multipurpose zone fit for hosting and entertaining guests.

kid room with outdoor garden

Overall, the down-to-earth house features comfortable and homely spaces that feel “just enough” and not overly grand – a motif that threads throughout the house.

house with stacked gardens

The Design Abode

Photography by Finbarr Fallon 

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