House Tour: A 32-Year-Old Joo Chiat Townhouse’s Modern Makeover

It’s not easy to create a cohesive interior out of an ageing property that had been renovated multiple times by different owners. A superb owner-designer teamwork saw this Joo Chiat...

by Lynn Tan

Anthony Huang and his partner were initially apprehensive about the rather dark interior of the 32-year-old townhouse. The previous three owners had renovated this property several times, so it was somewhat incongruous.

For example, multiple changes obstructed the spatial flow on the first floor. The layout was also less than ideal – a storage room occupied almost half of the dining area, and the master bedroom did not have an en suite bathroom.

Despite its unappealing condition, they knew they’d found their forever home. Anthony, a finance professional, says, “We saw its potential and knew it could become a spacious, light-filled home where we could make many happy memories together.”

Instead of providing a prescriptive brief, they described the look and feel they wanted to Dan Chua, a senior designer at Rubiks Studio: an uncluttered home with clean lines and full of plants so they could host family and friends.

The house is a corner unit in a row of townhouses, with a patio along the side.


Dan and his team transformed it into a light-filled dining room fit for a lavish dinner party or casual brunch by adding full-height, foldable glass doors and opening up the adjacent wall with three arched openings and a doorway.


For spatial continuity, the terrace and floor levels of the first floor were consolidated into one uniform level throughout and finished in grey Italian terrazzo tiles.


Bocci Series 28 pendant lights in mixed colours hang between two arched openings.


The dining room is physically connected to the living area by an arched doorway, while the other two arched openings create a visual connection between them.


“The slide-and-fold doors enhance the versatility of the space and open to create a semi-outdoors, garden ambience,” explains Dan.

(You may also like: House Tour: A Courtyard Tropical Home With an Inverted Roof in Johor Bahru)


Under the arched openings facing the dining room at the side of the building and the tall windows towards the front is a built-in L-shaped bench with a bay window.

As Anthony is an early riser, it is one of his favourite spots. “I like to lie down on the bay window with a lot of cushions and go back to sleep,” he says.

One of the living room highlights is a custom mustard B&B Italia Camaleonda sofa that took four months to arrive.


Moving the dining room to the former patio created a dry kitchen for Anthony, who loves to bake.


An island provides ample workspace for baking, and he has plenty of storage space for baking equipment and ingredients.


Additionally, the island doubles as a dining counter and incorporates more storage cabinets and drawers.


“I can bake in my dry kitchen, and my partner can cook outside in our wet kitchen,” he says.


Anthony precisely determined what he wanted to put in the open shelves behind the living room and gave Dan specific dimensions, including the measurements for the cups.


The living room and dry kitchen are more open, with the existing storeroom out of the way. Initially, the windows enveloping the stairway were tinted, stained glass-like panels that made the vertical circulation dark and gloomy.

These were replaced with clear glass panels with slim frames that allow abundant natural light to filter in, and the staircase has a new, custom-made black metal balustrade.

(You may also like: What Rose 900% in 15 years? Shophouses are the Next Hot Real Estate Investment)


The powder room on the first storey continues the black and white theme from the adjacent dry kitchen.


The second floor houses two guest rooms and a bathroom, while the master suite, which underwent some structural changes, occupies the top floor.

By moving its entrance from the staircase landing into the master bedroom, the former common bathroom on the third floor has become an en suite.

Also, the former study is now an entertainment area within the master suite.


“As the client wanted a bedroom with an open floor plan, we were able to create more flexibility in the room by placing built-in wardrobes along the wall,” explains Dan, who also removed the old platform bed and walk-in wardrobe.

Now, a Japanese aesthetic meets John Pawson-inspired minimalism in the main bedroom.


The attached bathroom follows the same design aesthetic with its grey terrazzo flooring and matte white subway wall tiles. An interior finished in neutral colours creates a calm atmosphere.


“We believe in putting things in the right place based on a feasibility assessment of the client’s ideas and aesthetic preferences,” says Dan.

“Anthony and his partner had a crystal clear direction on the house that they wanted. Through constant communication, we’ve translated their ideas into reality and created a house that truly reflects their personalities.”


Even though they moved in in January 2021, after a nine-week renovation costing about half a million dollars, Anthony considers their home a “work-in-progress”.

The big-ticket items and key pieces are in place, but he is still adding things. He says, “I sometimes pinch myself to make sure this is not a dream.” For him and his partner, this is the perfect home.

(You may also like: Villa Balbiano From The ‘House of Gucci’ Is Now on Airbnb)

This article repurpose by which originally appeared in Home & Decor

, , , , , , , ,

Type keyword(s) and press Enter