Having a beautiful house is one thing, creating a practical house is another.
Tue, Jul 12, 2011
By Willy Wilson
Interior designer Aloysius Chan says that having a beautiful house is one thing, but creating a practical house is quite another. Finding the balance between these two factors, he argues, is the perennial problem every homeowner faces.
|Beautiful but practical home|
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The good news is that an aesthetically beautiful house doesn't have to come at the expense of practicality - and vice versa. Chan's recent project, a 2,800 sq ft terrace house located in Bandar Utama, is a perfect example of a beautiful and practical house.
"One shouldn't sacrifice aesthetic due to the limitation of space, but one should prioritise practicality if space is a concern. This is what I believe in when designing for terrace houses or condominium units," he explains.
The homeowners, who prefer to remain anonymous, are working professionals who desire a house with easy maintenance. They also express their affinity for the wood element to Chan.
Unsurprisingly, wood has a strong presence in this house. From coffee table, dining table, study table, fitted kitchen compartments, bedheads down to wardrobe cabinets, each item has incorporated wood veneer.
An architecture graduate from RMIT University, Chan is a virtuoso of wood construction with a modern bent. And as a firm believer in mix-and-match style, Chan says a house shouldn't conform to a single interior concept. However, he is quick to add that one must know where to draw the line.
"In this project, I deliberately infuse contemporary aesthetic in the woodworks by keeping the design simple and, more importantly, practical and functional," he points out.
Modern twist The entrance of the house consists of a lush garden, a panel of tall windows and a main door. The door, covered in wood veneer and mirror, ushers guests to a living area that dons a stylish contemporary concept.
"The furniture and finishing in the living room have been carefully designed to bring about a contemporary atmosphere, which was quite challenging given the strong presence of wood element," Chan adds.
Here, the furniture is clean and simple, and the decorative items are kept to minimal. Further emphasising the contemporary feel is the colour palette, which sees a combination of earthy tones such as black, white, grey and bronze. The same palette can be found in the dining and kitchen, which are located behind the living area.
Meanwhile, two bedrooms are located on the first floor. A harmonious pairing of bronze and brown, together with a thoughtful lighting arrangement, delivers a sophisticated air in the master bedroom. By contrast, the kid's bedroom is coated in blue wallpaper despite the apparent presence of earthy tones.
Practical and functional When asked about the challenges working on a terrace house, Chan admits the size of the house did pose some difficulties. Fortunately, as an architecture graduate, Chan knows a thing or two about floor plan. Determined to give a more spacious feel to the living area, Chan decided to "flip the layout - quite literally!"
"The original layout of the living area saw the cabinet located on the right side of the room (when viewed from the main door). The new layout, however, sees the television on a low console, propped against the wall on the left side, and flanked by a staircase and a display cabinet," he explains.
He also tossed out the old furniture and brought in a set of new items - an L-shaped sofa, a TV console and a display cabinet - that has been proportionately designed for the space.
"By putting a proportionate items and rearranging the layout, we have expanded the living area from 200 sq ft to 400 sq ft," says the designer with a hint of pride.
He explains that when it comes to a compact area, every furniture item must be proportionate and functional. The display cabinet in the living room is a case in point.
Located right next to the main door, the display cabinet consists three planks, arranged horizontally. The house column and the wall support the planks on each side. What's interesting is that the lowest hanging plank is also used as a study table.
Concealed compartment idea is also employed to counter the spatial issues. Take, for instance, the shoe compartment, which is hidden behind a wall feature in the living room.
"I counted every of space here. In the kitchen, there is a 6-inch compartment next to the oven. Instead of leaving it unused, I decided to build a compact drawer where the owners can store itsy bitsy there," says Chan.
A smart compartment system is also evident in the master bedroom, where a walk-in wardrobe and a bathroom are concealed behind what seems to be a plain wall.
A successful renovation, according to Chan, must offer a more spacious feel to the house. He advises homeowners to "make an effort to understand what you want" and "work with a team of professionals who understand your lifestyle and needs".