Living room of an Japanese-inspired BTO flat in Tampines

The home of Matthew Lee and Alee Wee is exactly what their Instagram handle, @thewoodyhome, describes – a cosy space dressed in warm, woody elements.

“We love teak wood as it is hardy and looks so raw,” the couple said. “Interestingly, both of us grew up surrounded by teak furniture – so this is also our way of bringing a piece of our childhood into our new home!”

Japanese Influences

When designing their 5-room HDB flat, Matthew and Alee took inspiration from Japanese architecture. “During our trips to Japan, we noticed that glass and wood are frequently used as the main interior design elements. The result is a rustic yet contemporary look – something we wanted to replicate for our home.”

Entrance area of japanese inspired woody home at Tampines
Wood and glass elements are used throughout the flat

The kitchen and home office carry the strongest Japanese-inspired influences. In the kitchen for example, the couple opted for wooden shelves to mimic the minimalism of Japanese home kitchens.

Dining area of Japanese inspired woody home at Tampines
Half-height cabinets and open wooden shelving are main features of the Japanese-inspired kitchen
Sink area of Japanese inspired woody home at Tampines

Across the room, the wood-framed glass windows of the home office recreate the look of Japanese cafés. “We hacked the top half of the wall to incorporate windows. Beyond aesthetics, the windows also brighten up the space by letting in more natural light—it’s a win-win,” Matthew explained.

Living room of Japanese inspired woody home at Tampines
Study room in woody home at Tampines
Apart from making a design statement, the wood-framed windows also help to brighten the space by letting in natural light

The couple mainly opted for loose pieces in their home to highlight the spaciousness of the flat. Besides the teak furnishings that they love, they also added rattan pieces to the mix. “Rattan is a common element in Japanese homes. Plus, the varying texture of rattan furniture also helps with creating dimension within the space,” Alee says.

TV console area in Japanese inspired woody home at Tampines
Chairs in the living room of Japanese inspired woody home at Tampines
Rattan furniture such as the TV console and armchairs help to create variety within the flat

Mix and All Match

With shades of brown and white making up the primary colour palette of the flat, pops of colour are used to liven up the space. The living room for instance, is decorated with rugs and cushions of different textures and tones.

Sofa of Japanese inspired woody home at Tampines

Colour is also added in the form of a shoe display that features the home owners’ sneaker collection. “The sneakers add a dash of personality to the space and frankly, serve as reminders of what we already own,” laughs Alee.

Shoe rack of Japanese inspired woody home at Tampines

The mix and match design also extends to the bathrooms. While the walls of the common bathroom feature a mixture of terracotta and white tiles, the couple took a different design approach in the master bath by combining different wall finishes.

Bathroom of Japanese inspired woody home at Tampines
Bathroom of Japanese inspired woody home at Tampines

“We were planning for a combination of green and white tiles for our ensuite bathroom,” Matthew explains. “However, we were unable to find the exact shade of green we wanted, so we decided to paint the upper half of the wall instead!”

Maximise Space, Minimise Built-Ins

While built-ins in the home were kept to a minimum, the key ones that Matthew and Alee opted for—the kitchen island and wardrobe—were meant to add storage space.

Dining area of Japanese inspired woody home at Tampines2

“The kitchen island provides more countertop space for cooking prep, and acts as an extended dining table for when we have guests over. It also triples up as a storage space where we keep our tableware,” the couple says.

In the master bedroom, the couple pushed back a wall into the adjoining room, to enlarge the wardrobe space.

Bed in Japanese inspired woody home at Tampines
Wardrobe area in Japanese inspired woody home at Tampines
To maximise space, the depth of the wardrobe was extended by pushing the wall into the adjoining room

On her favourite spot in the flat, Alee says, “I love the dining area. Now that we’re working from home, I spend even more time here. This spot is spacious and allows me a panoramic view of the house.”

While Matthew’s go-to spot is also in the communal area, he shares why the living room is his favourite. “I like hanging out in the living room – especially on the sofa,” he grins. “Since I grew up with a teak couch, I really appreciate having a cushioned resting spot.”

Photos by Adrian Tan

  • Adeline Ang

    Content producer who writes too much and edits too little. Usually has a cold brew coffee in one hand as she stalks you on social media with the other.

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