Walk-up apartment for easy, laid-back living

A freshly converted 1950s walk-up apartment becomes the perfect place to slow down, relax and enjoy life at home.

  • Walk-up apartment for easy, laid-back living

Home Type: Walk-up apartment

Floor Area: 1,100sqft

Text by Redzman Rahmat

Designers Royston Ivan and Cher Lin from Oblivion Lab approached the renovation of this walk-up apartment from the 1950s with the aim of creating a space where the homeowners could escape and relax.

The space used to be an old office, complete with carpeted floors, green-tinted windows and a lowered false ceiling. Cher explained that they removed everything to give it a fresh start, while also exposing the apartment’s existing details (a high ceiling and unique structural pillars).

laid-back walk-up apartment

The complete overhaul of the apartment led to its rebirth as free-flowing and open-concept home filled with laid-back vibes. Rooms have been moved around to make way for a more conducive spatial flow. The master bedroom now sits where the kitchen used to be, and the outdoor balcony has been opened up to fully maximise the natural flow of light.

Now, an oversized steel frame glass door creates an indoor/outdoor segregation that also minimises visual obstruction. The balcony is definitely one of the highlights of this home. Here, plants, wood-effect floor tiles and accompanying wood-look laminates come together to form an area the designers describe as a “slow space” for the homeowners to retreat to.


What initially appears to be a simple, neutral colour scheme for this laid-back apartment proves to be a well-thought-out design decision. Cher points out that there’s a subtle gradient effect throughout the apartment. “We started with a relatively lighter palette for the living and dining area, and the balcony,” Cher explains. “We worked predominantly with light oak and dark walnut wood elements.”

laid-back dining

“When we transit into the kitchen, the vibe shifts from laid-back to contemporary cool. We focused on ambient lighting while using black as the background, and added stainless steel laminates and concrete effect floors that make the space feel edgier.”

The bedroom, meanwhile, explores multiple layers of black shades and textures. From the black slate vinyl floors to the black tinted glass to the jet black drapery, the room exudes a heady mix of mystery, drama and glamour.

bedroom view

The colour gradient story concludes in the bathroom. “It’s a full descent into a dark, delicious mystery,” Cher says. The interplay of materials and textures (cement ceilings, wood effect walls, honeycomb tiles and matte steel frames) present a space that’s both welcoming and mysterious.

dark and mysterious bedroom

This home’s studied interplay of light and dark is no accident, as Oblivion Lab has been known to introduce dusky interiors into their projects. “We specialise in filling spaces with alluring lighting schemes, which transform shadowy dark interiors into scintillating scenes,” Cher shares.


The kitchen happens to be the homeowners’ favourite part of the home. “It’s where the couple catches up with a glass of wine after a long day,” Cher explains. “Or it’s where they would host friends and family over the weekend.” This newly opened space rests on a slightly raised platform that subtly segregates it from the rest of the home. An island counter sits in the centre, housing the sink and doubling as an impromptu dining table when paired with bar stools.

open-concept kitchen

Minute yet consequential design decisions help to dictate the direction of this kitchen. For example, the design team equipped the space with four different lighting options: general lighting on the ceiling, a pendant lamp, LEDs on the backsplash and LEDs along the platform edge. “It’s for them to set the mood for different activities and occasions,” Cher explains.

Another studied design choice was to minimise the homeowners’ concerns over home maintenance. The cabinets are clad in laminates that are anti-fingerprint, anti-bacterial and scratch resistant.

The overall result is an apartment that’s well considered on many levels, but never comes across as heavily designed. Essentially, it’s a laid-back home where the owners can escape the bustle of everyday life.

Oblivion Lab

Photography by Seeck Photography

This article first appeared in Lookbox Living issue 64

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