“This project was rather special to me,” says Ed Ong, founder of Dwell Interior Design, on the makeover of this three-storey semi-detached estate. “It was one of the few in a year where the clients gave us pretty much full rein.”
The owners, who have three young children, run an established F&B business. They wanted a modern contemporary space enveloped in quiet opulence, but gave the veteran designer ample space to exercise his creative freedom.
Dubbed the Noce House, this project has been made even more memorable for Ong—it was one of the award winners at the A' Design Awards, in the Luxury Design category. Held in April in Como, Italy, the design competition celebrates stellar projects by designers around the world.
The semi-detached house had an elongated profile with an entire length of wall running across the interior. Ong decorated this area with walnut columns, each one meticulously hand-built with two long and two short supporting members.
This arrangement was inspired by the elegant, structured movements of the waltz and the upright posture of dancers.
“The walnut column mirrors the physical form of a couple dancing in a waltz. It mirrors two individuals, feeling and moving as one,” explains Ong. “If one can imagine a grand ballroom where a waltz is performed by dozens of couples, one would invariably feel a sense of grandeur. By repeating the walnut columns across the span of the walls, scale is achieved to communicate the same in the home.”
Another catalyst for the creation of columns is the layout of the house. “When a space is this large without a proportionately high ceiling, it can feel somewhat low,” shares Ong.
Thus, he opted to focus on vertical design elements as a counterbalance to create an illusion of height. Besides the row of walnut columns, which are also employed at the stairwell on the second and third floors, the indoor wall panels and full-height vertical garden at the entrance boast similar silhouettes as well.
Vertical light coves were also sculpted into the boundary wall by the lap pool. This motif is carried into the gold champagne-mirrored fluted glass cladding part of the dining table and the bar island counter in the entertainment room.
Both were custom-made with whole slabs of black Caesarstone, a solid and non- porous centrepiece that lends a masculine sophistication to the space.
Chuckling, Ong recalls the heftiness of the bar island countertop: “It was craned up because they couldn’t make it up the stairwell.” The study cabinet—handmade with uneven veneer panels—cues to the vertical design.
Coupled with the open-plan layout that provides copious light and ventilation to the ground floor, the interior maintains a sleek look with pristine surfaces and a multitude of hidden rooms.
The walnut columns not only serve as a screen for the staircase—these are also part of a movable wall that hides the entrance to the utility room beneath the stairs. What appears as ordinary black-stained veneer panels beside the walnut columns are doors to a walk-in shoe closet, formerly a household shelter and a powder room.
To elevate the luxury quotient of the interiors, Ong used fabric-textured wallcoverings, a tactile element that “takes modern contemporary up a notch, but is still understated.”
The sole structural change was the removal of a wall on the third floor, merging a lounge and a bedroom to create a larger entertainment space.
The second floor family lounge was also redesigned as a tea room with a display of Chinese tea sets the husband collects from around the globe. The two bedrooms on the same storey were converted into a study and a children’s room with a play loft as well.
“Ultimately, a good designer must direct the concept, the theme, and finally the interior design,” says Ong. “Style and stature was what they wanted in this home, without being over-the-top. In this house, the concept is achieved very clearly, and it’s consistent all the way to the top. We were privileged to work with a client that allowed us to carry our vision all the way through.”
This story was adapted from Singapore Tatler Homes June-July 2018