Cover The use of elevated platforms adds visual interest and places emphasis is on the spatial quality of the home

The work of Singapore-based interior design studio SS+D, this idyllic abode draws its cues from minimalist Japanese interiors

Japanese interior styles are often admired for their sense of zen—these spaces typically feature a peaceful, minimalist aesthetic with a sense of serenity. Through an elegant mix of natural textures and off-white tones, this apartment situated within the Coco Palms condominium complex is a cosy and inviting cocoon for a small family. 

Designed by founder Sam Loh and project manager Wu Zhen Phang of Singapore interior firm SS+D, the abode exudes a quiet, meditative ambience. Keeping the owners’ admiration for modern Japanese houses in mind, the design team envisioned the house as a modern, open space with simple, minimalist detailing.

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To start, the team opted for an open-plan living area in order to secure a generous and airy feel within the small apartment. “The existing unit had a compact layout, which did not suit our client’s current lifestyle,” says Loh. “Therefore, the challenge of this project was to uplift and enhance the overall flow to help blur the boundaries between the different spaces within the unit.”

The living room is an intimate area for the family to gather and unwind in. The white walls help create an ethereal setting, whilst reflecting light from the windows and expanding the sense of space in the home. Furnishings in neutral tones were carefully selected to create a cohesive, welcoming space.

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The Japanese sensibilities of the home are conveyed through the use of timber-clad finishes and wooden furnishings. Fabric stone and granite look-alike tiles form a path along the common corridor and master bedroom, imitating the essence of nature with their resemblance towards stone paths. 

The dining area is delineated from the living space via an elevated platform. This inviting space is perfect for the owners to host and entertain guests. A cosy tea corner to the side features a low tea table and a straw-like rug that references the tatami mats found in traditional Japanese-style rooms.

A built-in bench seating to the other side of the room cleverly maximises the use of space and creates an appealing space for the family and guests to gather. Additional storage can also be incorporated under the bench areas. The use of height and a creative mix of furnishings in various textures and materials creates a layered look.

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Wooden grid doors with frosted glass panels segment the kitchen from the laundry area. This feature is a modern reference to the shoji sliding screens that can be found in traditional Japanese architecture. The use of frosted glass also helps to introduce warm light into these transitional areas, brightening up the isolated nooks and crannies of the home. 

With serene, restorative vibes, the master bedroom is an extension of the tranquillity found in the rest of the home. “The space is redefined by a raised platform with timber finishes, which also creates more storage spaces under the platform,” explains Wu. The space further references the Japanese interior aesthetic where furniture is intentionally placed low to the ground.

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Timber panels that run the length of the room not only adds texture to the space, but also provides hidden storage for an uncluttered style. Integrating cohesively into the layout of the master bedroom, the walk-in wardrobe to the side features the same wooden grid doors with frosted glass panels found in the kitchen. 

With a pared-back design approach and an abundance of natural materials, this timber-clad family home is a tranquil respite amidst the bustle of the city. The well-crafted home is a result of a harmonious and trusting relationship between the clients and designers.

“The most enjoyable part of this project is the interaction between the client and us,” says Loh. Wu agrees: “Throughout the design process discussion, they were very open-minded, which allowed us to explore more possibilities and to envision our thoughts to reality.”