Many of us can’t wait to travel, especially to Korea – and its many aesthetic cafes are one of the reasons why. And while cafe hopping is all good and grand, this resale executive maisonette (EM) in Tampines has got all the details of a Korean pastel cafe. It even has a dedicated play area with a two-storey rock wall for the kids to scale.
Homeowners Kok Weng and Jacelyn first consulted a Feng Shui master to identify a facing that would be best for them, then they chose to work with the team behind The 80s Studio to help them achieve their dream Nordic-Korean home.
Two-storeys of pastel colours & terrazzo details
Whimsical Nordic dining area
The faux fireplace which doubles as a display for family mementos adds a Nordic touch
Walking into the home, we were struck by how much the home resembled a pretty pastel Korean cafe. To the left of the entrance sat the family’s dining area, a whimsical nook of the home decorated with a generous amount of rattan and macramé, creating a cosy space.
The otherwise plain corner is brought to life with the addition of a faux fireplace that houses a delicate arrangement of keepsakes and ornaments, iconic of the minimalist Korean aesthetic.
Beige overtones were further accentuated by the soft, light tones of the vinyl wood-inspired flooring. The owners chose vinyl over tiles for several reasons, one of them being that it would be easy to replace individual pieces without incurring too much cost should any damage happen.
Minimal open-concept kitchen
Majority of the walls on the first floor were hacked away to create an open-concept kitchen-cum-dining area with a sleek bar counter doubling up as a kitchen island. This allows light to stream into the home from both the living room and the service yard, creating an expansive look to the entire first floor.
Just like the dining nook, the rest of the first floor is a soft, all-white space with pops of pastel pink. The home has also got the cute cafe look down pat with its dainty pendant lamps and rattan furniture.
The kitchen bar counter, or what the owners call, “the breakfast table”, is a focal point in the home with its pink fluted side panel, the trio of Mid-Century, Venetian glass petal pendant lamps, and matte marble counter.
Father of two boys and husband, Kok Weng, joked that he let Jacelyn have these pink items, like the water filter, “to keep the feminine touch”.
Sticking to the simplicity in Korean interior design, the homeowners remodelled the kitchen to make it compact, with only the bare essentials needed for whipping up their healthy meals.
Jacelyn shared that they rely heavily on their Thermomix to avoid the lingering smell of fried food and oil that comes from heavy cooking. The kitchen sports an electric stove, and the couple went an extra mile to ensure the safety of their young children by concealing the switches within their shaker cabinets.
While gold may come across as tacky and traditional, it takes the right amount and colour matching to transform it into something contemporary. The centred, gold handles on the kitchen cabinets perfectly tie the white and the pinks of the kitchen together, giving the home an elevated touch.
Right down to the iridescent pink backsplash, it was evident that Jacelyn’s favourite colour was pink. The herringbone pattern here also gives the stove top an added dimension.
Moving deeper into the first floor, we found that the Scandinavian brief was executed to a T, with soft neutral furnishings and abstract art pieces creating a minimal, yet hygge living room. Their Samsung The Frame TV also caught my eye, as it was a seamless fit with the other photo frames of the family on the white shiplap wall.
We spotted terrazzo in the form of a coffee table in between the neutral grey settee and framed TV. The white wooden Venetian blinds pull double duty in dialling down harsh sunlight while lending to the overall Korean-Nordic look.
Rattan is abundant in the home, with more accented rattan accessories making up the statement pieces in the home. The choice of rattan furniture adds on to the Nordic theme where the warm browns match the pastel palette of the home.
The circular display shelf contrasts the rectilinear cabinet, all together serving both an aesthetic and functional purpose. When asked where she got her furniture from, Jacelyn pipes with a chuckle, “they’re all from Taobao! My home is 50% Taobao!”.
Service balcony-turned-play area
From the settee, one can get a view of the Pinterest-worthy balcony-turned-play area.
Image credit: Kok Weng & Jacelyn
Arches in interior designs are currently the trend. Instead of the run-off-the-mill rectangular entryway, the IDs created an arched corridor that draws guests into the colourful and playful space. The arch also helps to soften the look of the room with a welcoming frame.
Terrazzo tiles give off a playful mood with its colourful speckles
Most service balconies of maisonettes feature double volume ceilings but instead of leaving the walls blank, the homeowners here decided to fully utilise the space by transforming the balcony into a vibrant kids play area. The highlight of the space, naturally, is the 3-metre-high rock wall crafted by Peggy Board.
This inspiration hit them at the start of the pandemic when many outdoor play areas were cordoned off, hence, the couple sought to make their balcony into a fun area where their children would be able to exhaust their energy.
The wall is also customisable, giving Jacelyn the freedom to rearrange the climbing holds to repurpose the wall for educational purposes, such as sticking flash cards on the wall for her son to retrieve, taking “learning through play” to the next level. When the kids aren’t using the balcony, Jacelyn uses the space for yoga as well.
Staircases are exclusive to EMs and it’s not often that we see a mixture of materials in the architecture. Here, the stairs sported a unique mix of terrazzo tiles for the stair risers and wood for the stair treads. Turns out, it was The 80s Studio who suggested incorporating the leftover tiles into the stairs, making them one-of-a-kind.
Whimsical master bedroom & pastel en suite bathroom
The upper floor of EM houses the bedrooms, and one of Jacelyn’s favourite places because she gets to “relax and chill with her drama shows”.
Over at the master bedroom, the king-sized bed reminded us that the home was about a whopping 1570 sq ft. Despite the size, the use of rattan and pastels make the perfect pairing for creating the cosy retreat. Typical of the Korean chaebol apartment that we only see in dramas, a gilded full-length learning arch mirror adds a feminine spin.
The traditional Scandi theme is accented by the bronze corner ceiling fan, along with the unique ceiling light and patterned rug.
Day and night layered curtains allow the room to be illuminated in the day whilst giving the owners the privacy they need, and black out curtains ensure that the room is perfectly dark for movie nights in. With the home situated close to Changi Airport, the couple are also treated to occasional glimpses of planes flying by.
The rattan panels and macramé wall hanging make another appearance, this time it gives off a Bohemian-chic finish to the room.
The Korean pastel palette takes over the room in dynamic tones of brown, creams, and pinks. Gold tints in the pendulum lights and clothes rack promote the chaebol vibe. The unique bedside table follows suit with a honey-coloured wood finish with rattan details for the top drawer, tying the look of the room together in true Nordic-Korean fashion.
Another favourite of Jacelyn’s is the master toilet. She specifically requested for a double vanity, and the IDs accomplished just that. The vanity consists of twin sinks adorned in pink and marble to match the cabinets. The traditional bronze faucets add a touch of old-world charm to the modern bathroom.
One of the gems in their hefty Taobao haul was the smart mirror. Equipped with a light sensor and anti-fog mechanism, it even tells time and displays the temperature so Jacelyn can plan her day whilst getting ready.
Playful kids’ room and common bathroom
The childrens’ study nook was fitted with a quirky shelving unit that perfectly held toys and figurines. Set right next to the window, the study table received plenty of natural light. Roman blinds could be drawn if sunlight became too harsh.
The terrazzo trail from the stairs transitions into the flooring of the common toilet. Here, the colours veer off from pink and transition to Moroccan-style turquoise wall tiles. The homeowners felt the pastel greens were a better fit for the kids bedrooms over blue and complemented the pink accents of the home.
A pretty, pastel, Nordic-Korean home
Image credit: Kok Weng & Jacelyn
The couple took pains to create a home suitable for raising their young boys, ensuring that furniture could be moved easily to accommodate growth. The choice of furnishings down to their placements in their home pays tribute to the modern Korean apartment.
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Photography by Clement Sim.