A home that is a toast to Japan

Kanpai! Step Inside This Singapore Flat Designed After a Japanese Izakaya and Ryokan
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This 1,590 sq ft home may be located in a typical Singapore flat, but step inside, and you are instantly transported to a traditional izakaya and ryokan in Japan.

The homeowner has been living in his four-bedroom maisonette with his mother for 17 years, before deciding to renovate it with a fresh look that’s imbued with charm and personality. He went to interior design company Sync Interior with a clear vision – to have a design that combines the concept and aesthetics of a Japanese izakaya and ryokan.

“He wanted to retain the purity and authenticity of a Japanese izakaya and ryokan,” says Eric Chua. “The look should be traditional, but with modern technology incorporated. Furnishing-wise, we try as much as possible to get everything from Japan, made in Japan!”

The homeowner’s interest in Japanese culture soared when he started going to Japan for work, cultivating a deep love for sake. Hence, the key element is the idea of getting together with friends, just like how colleagues gather after work at an izakaya, so there are pockets of space with platforms everywhere for his friends to gather.

As the Japanese aesthetic is grounded on simple, functional beauty, the home’s overall design minimises defined spaces and fixed-purpose rooms, or the use of conventional furniture other than dining table and chairs from Hommage Lifestyle.

Rather, the design was based mainly on customised built-in structures and furniture to bring out the theme. For instance, light oak tones, platforms and shoji paper screens (a translucent paper made from Japanese mulberry trees or shrubs) are some of the distinctive elements included.


“The tatami-finished panels that were custom-made in Japan were ordered from The Tatami Shop,” adds Eric. “Carpenters constructed the sliding doors and pasted the shoji paper with gold flakes on one side of the acrylic.”

The panelled sliding doors separate the living area and the front part of the flat, where the entrance, kitchen and staircase leading to the bedrooms upstairs are. Upon entry, visitors see the kitchen counter, which takes its inspiration from the design of a sushi bar. Further, there is a glass showcase where visitors can admire the homeowner’s extensive collection of Starbucks mugs.

The drinking corner is a comfortable area and hidden in the platform is an automated table that can be raised when needed. It also doubles as a guest sleeping area, when the table is lowered into the platform and a futon is added. 

Taking on a similar aesthetic as the rest of the home, the homeowner’s bedroom upstairs is built atop a platform laid out in tatami mats. Internal windows look out into the stairwell and the tall bamboo plant that links the first and second floor, inviting light, air and greenery into the private spaces.


“Futons are used instead of beds, so every morning they are packed up and the space left empty,” says Eric. “Once the futon is removed, it’s just another space. This demonstrates the concept of simplicity and functionality, key aspects of Japanese aesthetics.”

Internal windows look out into the stairwell and the tall bamboo plant that links the first and second floor, inviting light, air and greenery into the private spaces.

The renovation took about three months and costs around S$120,000.

Tags: homedesigninteriorminimalisttatamiizakayaryokansakeJapanSingaporetraditional
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