A display of vodka bottles is the centrepiece of this Bidadari BTO by Hock Hoon
Some homes have a strong focal point — the first thing a visitor notices when they step through the door. It could be a stunning view, a beautiful painting or a show-stopping piece of furniture. For this four-room BTO apartment at Bidadari designed by Hock Hoon, what immediately draws the eye is a collection of vodka bottles.
“He had hundreds of bottles to display,” shares Ng Ci En, Creative Director of Hock Hoon, of the client’s desire to make his collection the centrepiece of his home. “He had been collecting them for years. Some of them were rare, some were gifts from friends, while others had been purchased from abroad.”
Ng went on to choose a prime position for the vodka collection — the wall between the living and master bedroom — and designed it such that it would fit the TV as well as the display cabinets that house the bottles. That everything looked seamless was important. “We wanted cabinets that flow well with the space,” he says.
Achieving this was a challenge. The bottles were of different heights and heavy. “The shelves needed to be adjustable and able to withstand heavy weight,” says Ng. “So we came up with a unique solution, concealing the heavy-duty adjustable AA tracks between the backing and the side panels. This resulted in the effect of the shelves being suspended with no tracks in sight.”
The client also wanted the display shelves enclosed in glass to keep the dust away. “Hinges of glass doors don’t usually look great, especially for a display cabinet, so we looked to Italian wardrobes for a solution,” Ng shares. “Their hinges have a slim aluminium profile and are easily hidden away but they also provide soft closing.”
Aside from that, the guiding principle for the overhaul of this 93sqm flat was to maintain a sense of openness. “We hacked out all the walls that we could, removing the boundaries between the living room, master bedroom and the second bedroom,” says Ng, describing a renovation that took three months to complete, and involved removing the false ceiling, flooring and all existing carpentry as well.
Spaces were melded or transformed — the master bedroom was increased in size, while the kitchen tripled in function as its island, topped by a huge slab of quartz, worked additional storage space into its roomy confines, while also doubling up as a dining table.
Ng also had to take his client’s belief in feng shui into consideration, especially when designing the master bedroom. He constructed a false low wall with a 20mm wood frame stretching across the entire length of the bedroom to push the bed out from the windows. He also used black-out curtains with cove lights running above it to create the illusion of length for the window.
The other requirement was that the bed would not face the bathroom. “I built a storage cabinet with curved edges that extended into the room from the vodka display cabinet in the living room,” Ng says, of the solution he came up with.
“It functions as a TV wall, a partition to block the bed from the bathroom and also carves out a transitional corridor that leads into the sleeping area from the bedroom entrance.”
The layout of the bedroom meant that the additional features had to be worked in for light and ventilation. “We chose fluted glass for the bedroom door to let in natural light from the living room, as the windows and curtains in the bedroom will be closed most of the time due to feng shui requirements,” the designer says.
“We also incorporated an opening into the cabinet structure to allow for air exchange between the living room and the sleeping area.”
When asked about his design philosophy, Ng says, “The client’s lifestyle is the first thing I consider when working on a project. During our consultation with clients, we lead them to share more about their living patterns.”
The open concept kitchen and abundance of display shelving are direct reflections of the inhabitants of this flat — a couple who do not cook often but have a fondness for collecting, not just vodka bottles but also Lego sets.
Overall, Ng is pleased with what he has been able to accomplish with this abode. “Opening up and redefining the entire space has allowed us to design a canvas for the clients to curate the collectables that will grow together with them over the years,” he says.
“It truly reflects their unique identity and is a perfect balance between functionality, aesthetics and feng shui, which is often hard to achieve.”